Dual Perspective Of The Mind
Streaming hither the mind
Is but a granular world
Emotions that abound,
Measly phantoms furled
Grains beheld in tricolor,
Got draped as elegance
Images the minds conjure
Are for their acceptance
Morsels on taste buds
Are grains that linger
Fragments that marinate
With enzymes and stir
Birdsong is but a stream
Impinging on the ear
Granular is the medium
Vibrating, so we hear
The feel of a satin’s sheet,
That sensation can’t forget
Are little grains of heat
A fleeting tête-à-tête
Dark is the cranium inside
To sight, touch, taste, or smell
Fancying the world outside
Grasping, inching, so it can tell
Do mind, the gap is precious
In what is and what’s seen
Gap! the mind is precocious
To discern the chasm within
Most of us are familiar with optical illusions. Some tend to dismiss them as childish infatuations. Others revel in the experience, being mesmerized, resting in the comfort of the duped mind.
How can one taste blue or hear red or touch sadness? Neuroscience says some among us can because of cross-wiring sense areas in our brain. Kandinsky, one of the most notable artists of the early twentieth century, was one of those that experienced image–music synesthesia. Monet’s impressionistic haystacks did such a number on him that he quit his profession to become an artist, inventing a whole new genre — abstract art. He was looking at this:
“And once I saw the painting for the first time. It seemed to me that it was impossible to guess without a catalog that it was a haystack. This lack of clarity was unpleasant to me. I thought that the painter had no right to paint so un-clearly. It was a vague feeling that there was no object in the painting. I noticed with surprise and confusion that the painting not only gripped me but printed indelibly on my memory, and suddenly arose in my mind down to the last detail… But deep at the back of the mind, the object was discredited as a necessary element of the painting”
— Wassily Kandinsky, Stairs, 1913
Consciousness is the stage of rendition of a granular stream — a stream of objects arriving at the five sense doors and mind-objects. Our perceptions, cognition and emotions are all processes. So says neuroscience.
Our minds get jaded as we go on with our lives. What can squeeze that extra bit to make the ordinary extraordinary? Attention! Consider Monet’s Haystacks. Even if you are not into art, don’t miss an opportunity to observe it closely next time. Paying attention to the brush strokes while ignoring the object it depicts (haystacks) reveals a play on color and shade.
Step back while holding this perspective. The objects will completely disappear. You get left with the illusion of grains of all colors and hues! As with any optical illusion, ordinary phenomena hold the potential to transform and evoke such a dual perspective —
- one of granular attention to detail
- the other of objects perceived by the beholder, with concepts (of haystack or anything really) tiled over.
Should it offend your sensibilities as it did to Kandinsky, rest assured, you took the other perspective — impartial and impersonal.
Everyday imagery (aka Twitter, FB feed) may offend us likewise. We get left with two choices — being jarred into mindless reactivity or marinate in the immense psychological freedom of choosing this alternative perspective of minding that gap — a gap stripped of concepts and devoid of ego.
It takes doing some undoing to get there. It gets cultivated by watching the mind using intense, granular attention!
Thanks for reading.
- The Tell-Tale Brain: A neuroscientist’s quest for what makes us human — V.S. Ramachandran, 2011
- Post Inspired by S&S Prompt Series
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