Interpretation And Blindness
By the time perceptual information reaches consciousness, each individual has transformed it into something new and unique. Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman
There are two potential perils in personal perception. Perception is not only fallible; it is also partial. Perception is defined as: the recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli, based chiefly on memory (dictionary). Herein lies the first peril: Subjective Interpretation, which leaves room for error, “wiggle room”. Whenever there is interpretation there is room for mistakes and biases. We tend to see more through our thoughts and opinions than through our eyes, Jon Kabat-Zinn. Believing is seeing.
The second peril of perception is found in our Partial Blindness, our inability to see the wholeness of reality. We are visually impaired observers”; what we see is not all there is. Our view of reality is partial, incomplete: an “isolated observation”, a snapshot; not the “big picture”. In all visible things there is a hidden wholeness, Thomas Merton. We can never see the whole iceberg.
Following are two personal visual strategies that help me overcome my perception perils. I don’t claim that I am always successful. Try it, you might like it.
1. I can’t see things without me. The way I see things is the way I see things. Objectivity is the subject’s delusion that observation can be done without him, Heinz von Forester.
I can’t get outside of me, or eliminate me from the way I see. But remembering that I am the one observing is helpful. If perception involves interpretation, then I am the one interpreting. I ask myself, “Why doesn’t everyone else interpret it the same way?” The answer of course is subjective interpretation — the result of personal experience, beliefs, biases, limited memory, point of view.
There is no “out there” out there, independent of what’s going on “in here”. Fred Allan Wolf
2. I can change the way I look at things. Keep my eye on what I don’t see. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change, Wayne Dyer.
I am a visually impaired observer because I can’t see the hidden part of reality. This of course is my partial blindness. If I look at viewing reality like viewing the iceberg or the forest, I can imagine what is hidden, visualize what I don’t see. Therefore, out of sight is not out of mind; this might overcome some of my visual impairment.
We only see the world we look for. Henry David Thoreau