Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Know I'm Not Really a Cat, Right?

How does a frog tell the difference between a fly and the myriads of other flying, moving, drifting, floating objects in its world?

Perception is a process by which sensory stimulation is organized and translated, and stored into ‘usable experience.’

How does the mind or the brain translate stationary flashing lights on a screen into moving pictures, a kind of temporary ‘reality?’

How does an artist see colours? There are approximately one-point-four million hues visible to the naked human eye. How or why does the artist see them, and how is he or she able to mix pigments and put them into a painting? If you made a hundred artists all paint a picture of ‘an apple and nothing else,’ all the pictures would be different. You as an observer would see different things—different skills, different styles, different techniques, different lighting, different compositions.

You would find some are ‘better’ than others. You might be able to pick a favourite.

All of the raw, unorganized data that enters the brain is subconciously and instantaneously ‘corrected’ into ‘percepts.’

This is thinking at the level of the forebrain, a subconscious, animal level. It is instinctive more than learned. In tests, newborn babies backed away from visual cliff-images, yet they clearly had no experience of cliffs, or even of falling.

What this means, is that a car on a highway is immediately recognized as a full-sized car, no matter how near or how far away, no matter the ‘apparent size’ of the object. It is rare to mistake it for a model car, or a cartoon.

For centuries, gravity was taken for granted, it was 'the Law of God.' People assumed the world was flat, even when you can see its curvature from any big hill.

People felt the wind on their faces and never gave it a thought...because they couldn't see it. They simply could not see it, and therefore it did not exist. The notion that air was a substance was a breakthrough in thinking.

Previously it could not exist in their world.

A musical theme can be followed—otherwise it is just noise—no matter how many times the composer has changed the key, or the timing, or the volume, or what selection of instruments is playing what section or bar of music.

For a person to underperceptualize would be to experience the world as chaos. To overperceptualize is just as bad. This means ‘to organize sensory stimuli to the extent that stimuli not fitting into that organization are shut off.’ This would be to experience ‘reality,’ or the world in a depressive or hallucinatory state. It is to shut out reality, or to deny its meaning.

Perhaps one part of the brain is lying to another part, or more likely misinterpreting data from sensory stimuli. Perhaps this may cause autism or mental illnesses of various sorts.

Classical theory states that once an object has been perceived as an identifiable entity, it tends to be seen as a stable object having permanent characteristics. This so called ‘constancy’ is, according to Ludwig von Helmholtz; ‘The measure of a person’s ability to continually synthesize past experience and current sensory cues.’

In many ways perception is reality. To suffer from flawed perceptions would be to perceive a flawed reality.

There is no objectivity in art. Art is purely subjective. To produce art by polling results is to miss the point.

Once the numbers were in, artists would inevitably begin trying to anticipate the demand…which leads to stagnation in pursuit of an ever-narrowing ‘ideal.’

As an artist, to imitate another is the kiss of death.

This is vital, so read closely:

‘Only when one is experiencing an illusion, or when one is misreading visual cues, such as when cars and houses appear like toys from the altitude of an airplane, does one become aware of such sensations, and gain some insight into the role of the organization of percepts.’ –'The Encyclopedia'

Much testing has been done in experimental research using the testing of subjects with illusory material, in an attempt to separate individual percepts from the process as a whole.

Now, the reader obviously knows I'm not a cat. But how do you know?

How do we know what we know? What do we mean, when we say we know?

This is more than a Monty Python sketch revisited. It is our opinion that philosophical conjecture is the highest vocation.

Whereas all that has been written since the dawn of time, on the subject of metaphysics, has been a total waste.

It is our job to question the very nature of reality itself.

At Shalako Publishing we like to challenge all of our assumptions.

All of them, ladies and gentlemen.

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