The other night I was feeling restless and like I needed to move around, as is often the case around 12:30 am for me. It’s one of my brains most active periods. I decided to joyride around, get stoned, and explore some roads I don’t normally roam. While I was doing this, I noticed a business whose red neon sign read “Clarinets Express.” Naturally, I was taken aback. Here’s a progression of the thoughts that followed:
- “Oh wow, a whole store just for clarinets, that’s ambitious. Who is that really even for?”
- “Well, I mean, I guess when you need ‘em, you need ‘em.”
- “OH! It says Cabinets Express.”
- “That makes a lot more sense.”
- “Wow, our brains really jump to a lot of conclusions and make a lot of gambles in perception.”
Consider this, of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, humans perceive just a small sliver of it. (I warned you I was stoned).
Of that small sliver, almost none of the things perceived actually register to the conscious mind. Instead your brain filters most of them out, sticking to the things that best fit its pre-established imprinted programs, conditioned programs, and learned programs. Think of it this way: your synapses-the little structures that allow your neurons to communicate to one another-are almost always stuck in a rut. Unless of course you’re consciously making sure you’re reprogramming them. And even then, most of them are probably still in a rut, whether it be a newly established rut or a long-entrenched rut. (As the esteemed rapper Ab-Soul once said: “The work is never done, dummy, the lazy will be late.”)
Here’s an exercise to begin to demonstrate to yourself just how much perception your brain is always taking in and dealing with: try sitting in total silence with your eyes closed, and focus only on the various sounds you hear for just 60 seconds. Focus on the various sensations and “tickles” you feel all over your body. Focus on all the seemingly vicarious thoughts that rise up out of the ether in your mind. (Or maybe the ether is out of your mind. Or maybe it’s both in and out of your mind. I mean, all particles seem to have non-local, cosmically entangled qualities about them…sorry, I’m rambling).
If you do this exercise, you’ll notice quite a plethora of different perceptions that you wouldn’t have normally registered if you were operating on even a mundane level of engagement in your game of life. Imagine how many more perceptions your brain still filtered out, despite your more acute level of focus on them. And remember, these are just the perceptions humans have the “organic devices” (ears, eyes, nose, etc.) to “read.” Imagine how many more things we all miss because we don’t have the “tools” to even perceive such things with! I’m rambling again.
But in any event, not only does our brain filter out lots of perceptions before it presents them to our conscious mind, it does lots of finer editing to the perceptions as well. Most people who have taken even an intro level psychology class are at least partially familiar with the concept that the reflected light-waves/light-particles of any space-time event are perceived upside-down on the retina, due to passing through the lenses on our eyes. Of course, our brain tweaks that for us, presenting the image “right-side up” to us instantaneously. I wonder how many other subtle edits like this it does that we aren’t aware of…
Really, when you think about it, it’s amazing our brains seem to “get it right” as much as they do. When you consider the amount of information our brain takes in, regulates, filters, edits, tweaks, and presents to our conscious mind, all in nanoseconds, it’s amazing we can make any sense of this energy-matrix-thing we seem to be existing in at all. Perhaps if we considered this a bit more actively day-to-day, we wouldn’t walk around so sure of ourselves and our perceptions.
Perhaps we need more silly misperceptions like “Clarinets Express” to jolt us out of this presumptuous slumber most of us usually move around in. Perhaps if we more appreciated the amount of gambles involved in every act of perception, and realized just how many “Clarinet Expresses” we misperceive all the time, we’d be a bit more humble and agnostic about the ideas, models, maps, and views that we build from these gambles of perception.
Extrapolate that thought and its potential meaning as far as you think it goes.