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Notes on perception
  ProjectionsReality is an illusion based on perception and memory. ~ Peter DukeIf you are reading these words, the image that you see, is in your brain, in yourconsciousness, is a projection.That projection is not unlike a movie, shown on a screen. I think Werner Erhard oncesaid (I'm paraphrasing) something like life is a movie, playing in the back of your head .The words you read appear to you as symbols on a screen or paper, but in reality, thoseglyphs are part of an imagined universe, an invariant model, created by your brain tomake sense of your sensory inputs.You or, better yet, Thou, are (just) the audience. Perhaps it's more accurate to say thatthe components of your personality are the audience. Sigmund Freud might describethe audience as the Id, the Ego, and the Super-Ego. A priest might describe them asthe Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Greeks and the Norse might describe theaudience as the pantheon of Gods or Daemons, but in any case, they are the filters bywhich we interpret the projection. We watch and interpret the projection, which is ourpersonal model of the universe.Your eyes, you see, only are capable of delivering a very small piece of the world at anygiven instant. Likewise your ears, mouth, nose and skin have limited capabilities, butyour brain does a very efficient job of reconciling those signals into a coherent model foryou (thou) to act on.Neuroscientist and inventor Jeff Hawkins points out in his book On Intelligence thatour minds create these invariant models, and then our brain makes predictions about iswhat assumed to be normative.If things don't line up, we notice .In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig illustrates that one canpass many rocks on the road, but it's the one that pitches you over your handlebars thatyou notice. He quotes Emanuel Kant and dives into his concept of a priori knowledge ,but Hawkins' theory is a simple and elegant explanation for the phenomenon. The rockdidn't fit the model of the universe constructed by the rider, and so things happen thatgarner attention, one notices and then a new correlation of facts (data) is requisite.It's hard for us to separate the little movie theater in our head, from our self (selves),because it is, for all intents and purposes, our personal construct of the universe.  We know nothing else.Our experience of the world is a constant comparison between an image, a model, ofwhat we think the world is, and what it actually is. When those images don'tcorrelate, our survival often depends on a reconciliation.In many ways, photographs create a mirror or tableau that fills our internal projectionwith an alternate world view.Photographs make it possible for us to project our fears and desires internally on our selves without actually being somewhere, there is no Darwinian penalty. Toexperience something that only a very few actually ever do experience, and often toexperience something that no one, not even the creator of the image has experienced.Depending on our state-of-mind, a photo can also be a reflection, in that we often relateor overlay the subject of the image to ourselves. Our feelings control our responses,often of fear or desire.Our assumptions are based on our orientation and ego; internalized vs. externalized. Inthe case of desire I want that vs. I am that , in the case of fear I don't want that vs. Iam not that .Ultimately, there is always the correlation between what we see and what we know.Straight male example: Angelina Jolie never looked at thou that way, but thou cannothelp the feeling that her look delivers, (even in a two dimensional still photograph).Substitute Brad Pitt if Angelina doesn't work for you. ;-)It's cortical.Photo-real imagery, both still and moving, has the capability of filling our optical datachannel with a complete world view, that is separated from our known universe, butoften with equal impact.We compare what we see, with what what we know, and make a value judgementbased on the feeling generated.Juxtaposed concepts and visual irony is an easy formula for creating compellingalternate realities. It creates surprise, as it fools our predicted assumptions of the world.Nympholepsy, the spontenious desire for something, ultimately, unattainable isclassically cast as an old man's desire for a young, undespoiled female (once he has   her, she is no longer undespoiled), but it is just as valid to juxtapose any combination ofdesires, dependent on a) the audience and b) the desired outcome.Wayne Maser's Guess campaigns in the 1980's and Bruce Weber's currentAbercrombie & Fitch campaigns were crafted to do one thing. Exploit a rebellion gapthat occurs between an adolescent and their parental units.Any image that causes an adolescent and her parents to swoon in oppositeappreciation will deliver the desired brand value.Example:Daughter: that's cool Mother: that's obscene A good photograph represents an alternate reality. A great photograph allows theobserver to project oneself into it, or experience it as a reflection, transforming the lurkerinto Narcissus.Someone (Camille Paglia?) once defined pornography as something that causes you toconsider or contemplate that which you do not normally want or desire to contemplateor consider. (Interestingly enough, Jesus on the cross fits into this definition right alongwith Linda Lovelace.)So we are always comparing our assumptions of the world, with that which we observe,others with ourselves, sitting in the little theater in the back of our heads.Our feelings are the thumbs up, thumbs down critique of the image projected into ourconsciousness. Those feelings pass through the filters of our internal audience. Theiropinions and biases promulgated by the culmination of all of the images / experiencesobserved and processed earlier.It's no wonder that Television and Motion Pictures, and now Video Games, have thepower and sway over audiences. The escape is seamless for many, as good as aHolodeck could (or can) be.Interestingly enough, non photographic representations, like comics or animation, alsohave transformative characteristics.Could the white square, bouncing across the video screen really be a tennis ball?Suspension of disbelief is almost enhanced in many cases where the fantasticalness ofthe adventure supersedes visual presentation. The brain stops comparing what itexpects, with what is known, allowing the predictive nature of our minds to tween , to  fill in any missing information, and in-turn, feelings.Hawkins theorizes that our dream state is simply our prediction engine feeding backthrough our dormant sensory pathways. Replaying projected variations of our invariantmodel like some kind of Twilight Zone reruns.Dreams seem somewhat real because the mechanism of experience is almost identicalto the way we perceive the real world. A projection.So if our perception of the universe is simply the projection of a model, created by us,based on our sensory understanding, and we can construct variations without sensoryinput, how do we actually know that the world we perceive is *real*?I'm not sure we do.The reality we know is the reality we perceive, or as Kurt Cobain said all we know is allwe are .An old friend, Joanne Wald once said to me that there are actually only 700 people inthe world, and the rest are on Television . Her comment has stuck with me for over 20years. If our perception of the world is just an interpretation of an invariant model, who'sto say that we *don't* live inside some Wachowski brothers matrix? Is the universeactually bigger than our perceived knowledge of it?If our senses and brains are actually constructing the universe in some kind ofabstraction (Divine or otherwise), what are the network connections that allow us toshare and modify each others projections?The life forms that tie all us sentient beings together are memes; ideas that spread likeviruses. Memes can reproduce and propagate like other forms of life.Memes can lie dormant, like cicadas, sometimes for millennia, spewing out of books,audio and video players, like light exiting a worm hole.Moving directly from objects and devices into our sphere of understanding, causingneurological changes in our perception and model. Ideas can change your world view,they can make you love or hate, angry, happy, sad and everything in-between.Memes use humans as a mediums like bacterial Petrie dishes. They ride along, usingus as hosts, waiting for the right moment to have us project them like a verbal sneeze,spewing our thumbs up / thumbs down opinions and impassioned rhetoric.Memes shape our perception of the world as metadata to our senses, like a proverbial
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