OTTO ~ Perception and Imagination
The brain is one of my favorite topics because it is the shell that contains everything that is you. Your external body might have some importance to you, complexions, height, weight, skin tone, and so on but none of these things is as crucial as the state of your brain. This OTTO may end up being a two part series with another for (the) Brain later. For now lets discuss Perception and the interesting notions of Imagination.
Our entire external form is basically an intake system for the brain. Our skin senses the environment around us, our mouths process fuel sources, our eyes take in light waves, our ears take in sound waves, and when all of this is joined we are left with a respectably detailed image of the world around us. A computer can think faster, can see better, hear better, and even feel better than us but to this day we have not been able to make one truly see. There is a deeper comprehension that we feel that has not been relayed to computing quite yet, it will, there is no doubt that we will design a computer that can act exactly like a human. At the end of the day we are organic computers and there is nothing impossible about replicating our processes, it just takes time and passion.
But think for a moment about imagination, visualizing memories in your waking hours and your dreaming ones. There is a reason this is so vivid for so many people and that quite simply is that the actions taken to imagine a scene and those to physically experience that seen are effectively the same. Sure the intake is from a different source but the end processor is exactly the same. Your brain is the final stop for all this data and at that point every bit of detail before is entirely moot. There is a moment where data jumps from being intake from the physical world and becomes part of your imagination.
It is the relevancy of our processing after this point that adds an extra layer of depth and importance to real world intake. Those things we imagine cannot be tangibly interacted with, we can however print them audibly, visually, or perhaps through interpretive dance (I shudder, but it is not an art meant for me).
In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true. – Buddha
Every person needs to be critically aware that everything comes back to the same failure point. Our brains are the weak link in the chain of our reasoning. This can be best expressed when watching magic shows or when taking powerful narcotics. Your entire world turns upside down and you are left perplex, elated, terrified, and/or convinced.
David Copperfield has been able to make a Space Shuttle seemingly disappear in front of hundreds (or thousands) of people at once, live. Go back to the introduction of the television and you have people who thought they were really seeing murders or events unfold. Further back still and people watching plays for the first time were (in some cases) utterly convinced they were watching reality unfold before them.
War of the Worlds was entirely on Radio and managed to create such drama and terror that over 12 thousand articles were written in response.
It is utterly crucial that people discern their imagination from reality. The reason that it feels so real is that the very same processing device used for feeling real things is also used to feel imagined things. There is an illusion that only holds sway if people take no time to think about it that they can tell when something is real or fantasy, it is the moment that any person confidently asserts this that they are utterly up for grabs. Completely and utterly ripe for the pickings.
Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us — and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along. – Carl Sagan
In my own lifetime I’ve been tricked, when I was younger I swear I saw a man saw a woman in half. I had such vivid dreams that much of my childhood is a wash and I can’t really tell you what did or did not happen without throwing darts blindly at a list (with a few major exceptions).
I’ve seen birds spring from nothingness, men float over fire, entire busses lift into the air. I’ve seen people locked in a cage of water be hidden behind a sheet for a second and then when the sheet fell they vanished only to appear on the other side of the room. I’ve seen a film that suggest how this last trick is done and I wouldn’t dare to speak it for fear of spoiling a fantastic film.
I love my imagination, I love the stories that can unfold in raucous disregard for realism amidst the folds of my grey matter, I love that on occasion I can see the faint silhouette of ghosts fluttering about my irises. But at the end of the day I must accept that all sensations, all observations, must be continually scrutinized.
Every magic trick in the history of humanity has either been an outright lie of the author or a marvelous trick of the performer. A good story is a beautiful thing, but we must remain skeptical of our processors. Take nothing for granted, enjoy the adventure, enjoy a good performance, but never be suckered in by it.
We are awash in a constant synchronized experience where our imagination and the perceptions of the real world mix. For some people this split is more easily discerned than for others but for all parties it must be accepted and embraced otherwise the risk for a misguided or wasted life is critically high.