Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Longer You Stare - The Enigma of Uncertainty

"Wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein"
-Friedrich Nietzsche-

If you stare long into the abyss, the abyss will also stare into you.


The longer you stare into this image, the more zombies will appear.  Try it.  It's true.

Or is it?  Do we see shadowy figures or do we see zombies -- particularly the kind of Zombies invented by Hollywood and the Walking Dead comic books? The kind that doesn't exist. The power of suggestion is slippery and can be as hard to perceive clearly as those blurry phenomena we find things of our own making in -- of our own imaginations, prejudices and fears.

So when we have those little epiphanies, those spiritual moments that hint at unseen noumena; how genuine is our perception and how much of what we're prompted by our culture and experience to see appears to our eyes?  Krishna, Christ or Chuckwu look back at us, whispering like Enki from behind the wall.

In fact no matter how you blow the image up, you can't say from what you see that they are zombies any more than you can know just what zombies look like outside of  fictional representations.  We see the same phenomenon when we see the face of God in the window, the face of Jesus in a rust stain or pattern of mildew on old wallpaper. We have no idea what those people looked like, but we swear to it, it was Mary and she was a virgin and wore a shawl.  It's the power of suggestion and our culture is at heart an encyclopedia of suggestion and meme.

How much do we bring to what we see? Two crossed lines will mean something different to a Hindu than to a Christian.  That applies to what we see in others' faces, to what we taste when we're told what we're tasting, whether it's true or not.  One person in a room gets sick.  how many others feel bad and how soon?  How much better will that wine taste when the "expert" raves over it?   How fast will that placebo cure your headache?  Often faster than the Aspirin.

Eating breakfast, I stare into the granite counter top.  A thousand faces stare back.

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