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Perception and Being

March 24, 2011

I’m reading four books right now – all non-fiction. As I think of it, this flurry of reading was preceded by two non-fiction books as well. I don’t always know what’s occurring in my mind as I choose books. Certainly, two of the books I’m reading have been inspired by my employment by a startup. As we posture and position and enter the launch phase, I have a desire to read about “buzz.” So, it’s not surprising that I returned to The Anatomy of Buzz, by Emanuel Rosen, which has recently been updated and is under the title, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited. Since reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, the power of word-of-mouth fascinates me. More exactly, how humans have a need to share information fascinates me. Humans are a natural for social media. Our tools are just catching up with our tongues.

A co-worker suggested I try Rework, by Jason Fied and David Heinemeier Hansson. This fast-paced read challenges marketing strategies that have been the platform for modern business for decades. It’s a refreshing look at how ingenuity should be brought to market. I’m enjoying it.

Alongside these work related books, I’m reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard and Twelve Moons of the Year, by Hal Borland, both gifts from someone who appreciates my appreciation of nature.  I hope soon to begin work on converting my nature photo blog, SilverLining, into a book. I’m reading these books to inspire that endeavor.

There’s not a grand point to this post. Actually, what got me thinking about writing it was a thought rooted in Annie Dillard’s writing, that I found myself mulling over as the sun set beyond the forest of trees that are out the windows that are across the room from where I sit at my desk. Writing the introduction to the post got me side-tracked about the books I’m reading.

So, here’s the thing I was thinking about. In the initial pages of her book, I think Annie Dillard is setting up the reader to be aware of visual perception, so that we are prepared as she shares her mentally challenging (to the reader) perceptions of the natural world. As an exercise to stretch our understanding of the brain’s interpretation of sight and depth perception, she tells about the first life-long blind patients of cataract surgery and their initial reactions to having sight. In more than one instance, the newly seeing patient describes vision as blotches of color – the implication being there is not yet meaning in what the blotches are. Equally interesting is the expressed idea of these patients that the color is immediately before them – there is no distance between them and the “colors” – which are objects known to life-long seeing people. So the net effect was that when these people walked, they perceived the colors as parting, as giving way to their passage – kind of like the way we displace water when we swim through it.

Anyway, my random thought that caused me to post today, was that I found myself sitting here picturing myself passing through the palette of colors before me – across the room and out the wall of glass, and over the deck and into the air that leads to the woods and on toward the setting sun, all without bumping into anything, as if molecules could absorb my being and carry me through and into the infinite sunset. This was the perception of the once blind – the perception, as Annie points out, of every newborn. I believe she challenges us to consider if we construct our own constraints.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. LeeAnn permalink
    March 25, 2011 2:50 pm

    Lovely post to ponder! Last night at dinner our 7 year old asked her father why the ocean is blue and that sparked a very deep dinner discusion about color & how we “see” it, etc. Some very interesting questions came from our little 7 year old! That got us talking about our amazing brain and how it works….that got us into a Nova episode about the brain….all very interesting stuff. Thanks.


    • March 25, 2011 11:32 pm

      Thanks for sharing the scene around your young daughter’s questions.
      She’s constructing her world.


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