Seeing The World As It Is

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.—William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, as the epigrammatic introduction to Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, 1954.

In thought we return
      and re-return
            to the idea called
"Seeing the world as it is."

We can observe
      that perception is distributed: Your hand withdraws
            from burning heat or a sharp object
                  before—and even regardless of—
                        your conscious perception of the stimulus.
We can observe also
      that all perception and its cognition are,
            through necessities of physics and creaturehood-process,
                  operations performed on virtualized Past
And that, as a creature's perceptual toolset
      has come to its kind through evolution lived in
            communal interbalancedness and bioweb-interdependence across entropic Time,
                  always within an ongoingly circumscribed set of boundary conditions
                        of necessary affect and necessary effect,
                              what a given individual and its kind can perceive without prosthesis
                                    is limited to that which supports—is essential to—Life,
And no more.
With the prosthesis of technology—from
      the simplest (a lever, a lens) to the most complex (very
            long baseline interferometry, helioseismography,
                  the scanning electron microscope, a
                        charge-coupled-device camera borne
                              on an interplantary probe)
                                    and the web of lives and electrics and electronics
                                          that produces and powers and links and controls it—
We newly perceive only an expanded set
      of disparate, Concentration-filtered,
            serial dots
                  rather than the irresolvably, practically infinite simultaneity-parallellality
                        that is the streaming Everywhere
                              across entropic Time
Of What Is.

Is there Seeing The World As It Is
      if one cannot perceive
            the workings of the internality of his own thumb,
                  much less the heart of a sheet of steel,
                        or the convective air-density variations above warming mud,
                              or the progress and state at this instant
                                    of the 75,000-year journey from its production to its emission
                                          from the photosphere
Of a single photon from the interior of the Sun?

The error exemplified by Huxley
      is therefore multifold:
There can be no Seeing The World As It Is
      because the dynamic range of Event
            is wider than that perceptible to
      because an irreducible physics-dependent propagation delay operates
            between Event and Perceiver;
      because, the physics of the arrival of stimuli from Environment notwithstanding,
            all conscious Perception, even of the Now, is an operation on Past—
                  that is, on Memory;
      because not all creaturehood-action results from or is driven by
            conscious perception;
      because even conscious perception
            is deceptively and inescapably serial and localized
                  while its subsuming Universe is practically infinite in spacetime-energymatter extent
                        and practically, infinitely, distributively simultaneous-parallel
                              in process.

Only the complete picture will satisfy
But you cannot perceive the complete picture
For you are the complete picture.

Copyright © 2007 by David Newkirk. All rights reserved.