Friday, April 11, 2008

Perception Versus(?) Reality [UPDATED]
Today's NYTimes Blogs includes the second post in a series by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. They are both a great read, especially if you have seen his amazing and haunting film, "The Thin Blue Line." Here he is focused on the issue of perception and reality, and deception - either from within, or without - as well as the nature of re-enactment. This is the way the first part of the series ends.
The brain is not a Reality-Recorder. There is no perfect replica of reality inside our brains. The brain elides, confabulates, conflates, denies, suppresses, evades, confuses and distorts. It has its own agenda and can even work at cross-purposes with our conscious selves. Consciously, we may think that we see all and know all, but our brains may be “blind” to much of what is going on around us.

Many people believe they have found a way around the eccentricities of the brain by substituting a camera, but this only defers the problem. It does not solve it. Even photographs have to be perceived. They have to be seen. There is no shortcut around the Cartesian riddle of separating reality from the appearance of reality. There is no shortcut to reality. The brain is all we have.
I really recommend both pieces.

[UPDATE: Love the Internets. Why do I not visit Morris' blog regularly to make sure I catch every post? Scrolling through his previous writings, I stumbled upon another series; this one has 3 parts, and it's even more fascinating. Here's part one, part two, and part three. Can you tell Friday afternoon has already started my weekend?]

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