Different Eyes See Different Things
“The task: to see things as they are! The means: to be able to see with a hundred eyes, from many persons!"
I saw some graffiti today, written on the inside of a window frame:
Different eyes see different things
Eyes can be different in many ways, physically and symbolically. The eyes are engaged with a complex dance of sensations, movements, feelings and thoughts. Eyes are psychophysical.
Obviously eyes are different physically, based on: genetics, health, age, body type, tension habits, current mood, facial expressions, intelligence, brain wiring, sleep patterns, diet and nutrition, esoteric practices, screen habits, sunlight, mental health issues, personality types, horniness, and a bunch of other stuff.
So in this way different eyes do see different things because all eyes are different. But I suspect our Marker Pen Mystic is musing more about the metaphorical way of looking at eyes – if you see what i mean, now that I’ve pointed it out.
Robert Anton Wilson talks somewhere about teaching in a classroom and asking each student to describe the hallway outside. Every single person described the same hallway differently, and noticed something the others hadn’t. I’m sure some even “saw” things that weren’t there.
So different pairs of eyes will see different things. But what about if we want the same pair of eyes – our own beady little eyes – to see different things. And I don’t just mean things like training your peripheral vision which is a useful skill, but is more about quantity i.e. seeing more of the type of things you already see anyway, rather than seeing new things that are qualitatively different.
Nietzsche has a tweet for everything:
“The task: to see things as they are! The means: to be able to see with a hundred eyes, from many persons! It was a mistake to emphasize the impersonal and to characterize seeing with the eyes of one’s neighbor as moral. To see from many neighbors and with purely personal eyes—that is the right thing. The “impersonal” is merely the personal weakened, something feeble: it can admittedly be useful every now and then, where there is a need for dispelling the clouding of passion from one’s vision”
Ok so we want to see more things, different things, and from different viewpoints – that’s great, but HOW exactly? You can’t just decide to see different things and puff of smoke here you go. Assuming you’re not having a lucid dream right now and for some insane reason decided to conjure up the substack app instead of doing something beginning with F. (flying of course.)
So we have to start with something concrete, that you can measure, judge whether you really are seeing differently or not, and best if it’s practically useful so it matters to your life that you see different things. Not just reading hundreds of other people’s viewpoints on some random political issue – what are you going to DO with these new eyes?
Ok so let’s tie all this into movement practices, and specifically using video analysis to help improve posture and coordination. How can we grow different eyes, which see different things - and then DO something with this knowledge, use these new eyes?
We tend to assume that our perceptions are “raw and pure” coming from the outside world into us through our eyes, ears, nose, moth nose, skin etc. And then asanimals have emotional reactions about what we sense and spring into action for survival and reproduction. And as humans also have thoughts and make judgments about what we sense, wonder what they might mean or signal, create new concepts to explain what we perceive, and to help plan and accomplish our goals. And so in general it’s easy to assume we just add all this cognitive stuff in “on top” of the pure perceptions.
But there are no pure perceptions like this. Every perception is abstracted from all the thinsg goiung on, and is already processed by our brains before we even become aware of it. We make perceptual judgments, have emotional reactions, and implement actions patterns which all interact with and change with what we perceive. Yes this includes things like cognitive biases and “what the thinker thinks the thinker proves” etc.
But more interesting to me – and not at all obvious – is that changing your concepts about things will change what you actually perceive later. You perceive the phenomena in a new way, you see different things. But I don’t mean just because you know more about the object you can now have ultra quick thoughts about what you are perceiving i.e. adding in some thinking “on top” of the raw perceptions, so fast it feels like you see the ideas at the same time, but in reality is a microsecond just afterwards.
What I mean is you really do perceive new things, or you could say the “raw” perceptions have changed ( at least for you!), and you are instantly aware of different things, get information and knowledge inside the very perception, as the perception. So having different eyes can mean it’s a different understanding that is currently using the eyes as a tool.
An example. When I first started looking at videos and screenshots of people’s posture (starting with my own) and trying to figure out what all the different parts are doing relative to one another, what the different movements are making up this larger movement called ‘standing’ or ‘walking,’ all I seemed to perceive was chaos and a blur, just too many things happening at once so I gave up.
Over time i learned to analyse more people, and i started drawing on diagrams on pictures to show the relation s between parts, and I compared images from before and after a movement experiment.
I then started to compare what I saw to a specific model of posture I was aiming at, with a relational diagram showing the desired positions of different parts. This was pretty clumsy and took a lot of time in the beginning, as i slowly, bit by bit, pieced together all the little sub-movements that were happening at the same time in lived reality, but on my screen in slow motion, over and over, were split up into different events.
But over time I started doing this analysis “all at once” in my mind as a complete thought, and it almost felt like it happened by itself, to me rather than me doing it. So now when I look at someone, not just in a 1 to 1 lesson, but just a “civilian” standing in a coffee shop I am instantly aware of the relations between certain bony parts on their structure (fully dressed even!) and often almost “see” geometrical lines and angles drawn in on top of them. Not quite the terminator with graphics and vital stats appearing over targets. More like Jason Bourne automatically sizing up the fighting skills of the guy at the bar, and knowing how far he can sprint at this altitude without collapsing, except not as cool and film-able.
But what happens is I now SEE these relations as my “raw” perceptions. I see the relationships even before I start thinking about what I see. The understanding is just there, and the new perception is shaped, moulded by this understanding. I don’t have some sort of independent pure objective perceptions then my understranding quickly does a bit of reasoning and computation “on top” after the fact What has happened is my eyes see different things. My eyes are different.
It’s almost as if I “feel” or “intuit” the relationships between parts and the structure as a whole. But it’s not quite that mysterious. All that’s happened is I’ve done the work of reasoning and analysing enough times in the past - which is tiring and boring and doesn’t feel fun! –so my brain has reconfigured itself in order to take in this new type of information i’ve been training it to do. There has been a (slow) top down cognitive restructuring of my perceptual system. Sometimes I get this curious awareness of being on the borderlands between conscious and unconscious, it’s exhilarating.
I don’t see why you couldn’t train your own brain to do whatever weird task you have set for yourself. You don’t need to apply this only to posture and movement. It’s up to you.
Different eyes also look for different things.
See you tomorrow,
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That was fun to read. Also, really interesting because it's applicable to everything.