Sunday, September 21, 2014

Perspective + Illusion

It's all a matter of perspective: we all look at the same things, just not the same way. Sharing a point of view can be illuminating, as in a group exercise I once participated in while attending a healing workshop at the first annual Gathering of the Tribes event in Tok, Alaska. Everyone sat in a large circle with an object that was symbolically representative of the issue facing the tribe/village/family in the center. A "speaking stone" was passed around the circle, and whomever held it had the floor as it were and spoke of their particular take on the problem. The theory was by the time the stone had traveled around the circumference of the group, a full picture of the issue would have then been created by the sharing of each person's unique perspective from their own point of view, since for example I couldn't possibly see things the same way as someone sitting across the circle from me, nor could they necessarily relate to a facet as seen from where I sat.

Another "trick" taught to me by an instructor in an art class was to hold a pencil at arm's length (held at one end so it is vertical), then extend a raised index finger (think "you're #1" gesture) and then, while closing one eye, move your finger about half the distance between so that it is centered over the pencil, effectively blocking your view of it. This is how most folks see the world. Now, as a metaphor for expanded vision, open both of your eyes: that is how meaning is revealed. Wooo...

Additional insights can always be gained through additional pursuit of different perspectives. Years ago I attended a lecture on UAF campus as part of a class in metaphysics: a traveling creationist was extolling the failings of science by way of bolstering his religious agenda. As part of his presentation he showed us the infamous perceptual illusion of an old woman/young lady figure as a way of insisting that our biases would color our interpretation of data.

The lecturer didn't have anything to say when I mentioned the picture he showed was actually created by British cartoonist (it figures) William Ely Hill, who drew the image in 1915, based on other popular incarnations of the original design, as a deliberate example of illusion - as in it is both. Point being through a little research one can often arrive at a truth, sometimes even the truth. Asking questions is a start, listening to answers is also a part of the process... as is making fun of it all.


  1. For many minutes I couldn't get the old lady to appear. I guess we know my bias.

  2. Coulda been worse: I still see a duck and a rabbit.