How much do you see? How much is seeing dependant on words, our interactions, distractions, expectations? How much do our efforts to dialogue get sidetracked by the animus of what might be called a scripted reality of preconceived notions?
The infant who points to every oval shape, chirping "O." The delight of viewing daily life with a child in hand is the recognition that common reality is not at all common place. Picking up every leaf, feather, and pebble, the child is entranced. Pronouncing "O" in excitement when spotting resemblances, the child connects with the parent, and language settles the matter sometimes with a matter of factness that out weighs the initial perspective of inquiry.
Often, we are too preoccupied to notice the disturbing situation that might be in our midst. There is a famous experiment that has been replicated in a Youtube video:
In a 1999 study, Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris showed that people focusing on one thing, such as counting bounces, become blind to the unexpected-- even if it is right in front of them. This effect has been dubbed "inattentional blindness." This is interesting in light of selective attention to information--humans are much more impressionable than we like to think.
Most of us are preoccupied most of the time. Distracted by our own preoccupations, we miss what is right before us. We see only what we are prepared to see. It might even be said that we see only what is agenda endorsed or prescribed--in effect the language, rhetoric, tone--tells us what to attend to and what to see...unless and until we say "Hey," ask questions, and keep up the line of inquiry.
It's easy to miss something we are not even looking for. Here's another demonstration, courtesy of You Tube. The assigned "agenda" is the whodunit line of inquiry.
But there are visible items we do not attend to --"invisible gorillas" right in front of us, or if you prefer, "inattentional blindness" (the formal term). What are the invisible gorillas in our language that do not account for that in experience which is not widely sanctioned, acknowledged, recognized, or easily nameable? Are we who assume ourselves above the habit of stereotyping others, able to see past conventional views and assumptions about people and issues? What we see and what we attend to are in large part directed, even dictated by language use, tone ridicule, and convention, whether we like it or not. We do not see a heinous problem because it is not labelled "heinous problem."
If it's politics--and what isn't now--we are manipulated by the politician's outcry and journalist's bullet points. Quick to ID certain types--those hicks, we say-- we pride ourselves on being "deep" and seeing beyond stereotypes. Yet we proceed to interact with stereotypes and stock positions.
Polemical pre-suppositions so color our ordinary interactions that it is nearly impossible to carry on a genuine dialogue. Even if we are not scared off from talking about profound issues, does our discussion lead any where? Do we ever register what the other is saying or are we stuck so tightly to the image of the old hag that we cannot "fix" on the young woman?
One benefit of engaging in true dialogue with those we are in disagreement is the potential to see the world with an added strangeness and to recognize an element previously missed.
This is an appeal to recognize the world contains stranger aspects than we know. This is an invitation to talk about that which matters most. This is unexpected.
the philosopher's daughter
Speaking of surprise, adding an element of color and bold geometric design can dress up a plain blouse or t shirt instantly. To see one way of adding interest in color and style--an element that draws the eye, check out this skylarkscarves design: