Residual self-image

Baking in the oven for quite some time now: residual self-image. The mental projection of what you [must] seem like to others. This is a really interesting concept made popular by the Matrix series.

In reality, they’re all bald, with metal sockets all over the place, silent homage to tentacle hentai I’m sure. But in the Matrix, they’re all glamourous, dressed to kill in dead animals, straight out of a PETA-activist’s nightmare. The point being, that piece of code, that controls what they’re wearing and what they look like, is user-controlled. They get a haircut in the Matrix; was their hair “really” cut? They seem to think so. And it appears so even as they believe it to fall in front of their eyes, and the new hairdo is what others in the Matrix see as well. But why?

If others in the Matrix see themselves as what they choose to be like, why don’t they see others in the same way, with the same personalised preferences? So now we are actually discussing, is your red my red?
We don’t know for sure if others are actually seeing what you think you look like or see in the mirror. I find it easier to deal with numbers when explaining this.
400 to 700nm is the frequency range of the visible light spectrum. Closer to 400 is red and closer to 700 is blue/violet. If I perceive at 400nm frequency, a color that corresponds to what you understand as a color that you associate with 700nm, but I’ve been instructed from the day I was born that that color is blue, then both of us will agree the color is blue, but I will be actually looking at what you think is red.

Now if this mutual swap is conserved system-wide, then there would be no apparent disagreement, no problems at all, but we are in fact looking at two very different things. Yes, on the biological side, you have the cones and rods…unless there’s an objective way to identify colors without sight, and an analytical methods to understand how the brain perceives color, there is no way to prove what we see is the same as what anyone else sees. If you can’t even trust colour recognition, what about shape, and distance perception? What happens when you’re high and hallucinating?

Arguably our vision is selective, filtering out noise from Spelke objects. But the whole process seems to rely on association and recognition. No wonder we find comfort in familiarity; it’s the only thing we recognise.

Do you see soot particles and grain boundaries of ceramic tiles? Nope.But are eyes weak in terms of MP? Hell no. We get this whole lot of information and we just screen out the details. If only because we weren’t taught to recognise such details.

Senses are but electrical signals interpreted by the brain and it can get really wacky and noisy at the synapses.

If we are so unclear about what can see, what about what we can’t see or sense otherwise? Maybe we have appendages in more than 3 dimensions. Maybe to truly feel dark matter, you have to, I dunno, be in limbo with extremely sensitive ears so you can make out the net pull of gravity when trying to establish a local vertical. Enough with the hypotheticals. What I’m trying to set up is a pseudo-scientific premise. Let’s move on.

If we can’t know what we don’t know, can it be argued that certain things, on a cultural context, will just escape our attention simply because we’ve never been alerted to it? Magic really exists, but we just can’t see it, likewise for ghosts?

If you’ve never been told how to perceive something, and look for symptoms of its presence, how would you if there’s something there? Ever had the experience where someone points at something and you just keep looking and looking and just can’t wrap your head around what the friend was really pointing at until he/she expressly describes where to look and what excatly you should be looking for? And then there is a glimmer of comprehension, and suddenly disbelief in your mental well-being: how did you even miss it before?

Helen Keller lost language at 19 months and only got it back when she was seven. In her own words, she says, “We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honey-suckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten, a thrill of returning thought, and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. From:

It’s easy to forget how hard it was to associate an idea with a sound or a word and yet that is what separates human language from animal communication. The ability to permanently fix meaning onto syllables. And writing was the next step. Now the syllable is given form. The image then, refers to a syllable which in turn alludes to an idea. Pretty cool.

If you’ve never seen a ghost before, and you don’t know how to go about seeing one, then how would you see it?
If the concept of UFOs weren’t made popular in the media, would we even understand what the hoaxes meant? A round disc in the sky. So? Big deal, anyone can throw a frisbee right? And then you wonder, if it was really a series of hoaxes all along, how did the initial idea come about?

So there’s a lot of things we sense that we don’t really sense in full glory. Either by omission or plain ignorance. And what we do sense, is a fraction of what we don’t. Abilities in the animal kingdom >> human abilities. The only advantage we have is the ability to think and yet, the Darwin awards get more stupendous every year. Depressing really.

So can we really blame anorexic/bulimic individuals for thinking they look fat in the mirror? Any LSD user [some of them famous] will tell you the things they saw during the high were enough to keep them fuelled for a lifetime; that the hallucination felt more real than sobriety. Planes of consciousness and all that.

As I said, this was supposed to be the premise, a set-up to a larger discussion, but I do get ahead of myself most of the time and at this rate, this post will get unhandily long before long. So this will be number one in a series. Stay tuned. And comment if you have additional points.


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