is an abstraction,
not a replication of the real world"
is illusion and what is real? Effective creativity must
discern between the two. How much does the brain have to
do with determining reality, and how much does consciousness
and/or our emotional state affect our perception of reality?
word illusion comes from the Latin Illusio which means mocking
or deceit. The dictionary defines illusion as a false, misleading,
misconception. The general consensus for determining reality is
by use of the five senses; seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and
is assumed that these five senses are giving an accurate report
of the external environment. But, are the senses giving us an objective
view of what's "out there"? To test this theory, let's look at some
at the cube on the left. If you stare at it for a time does
it appear to flip back and forth from a hollow cube to a solid
cube? Is the circle on the face of the solid cube or the back
of the hollow cube?
your eyes see and how your brain interprets these impressions
can cause confusion. Your brain transfers what the eye perceives
and turns it into electronic impulses. It is the job of consciousness
to sort out these electronic impressions and make some coherent
sense of them.
reported in The Three-Pound Universe by Judith Hooper and
Dick Teresi, "The image in your head is not a straightforward copy
of anything. Palm trees and Ella Fitzgerald's high notes are represented
in your brain by abstract codes. There are no colors, no sounds,
and no smells in your neural tissue."
impressions received by the eye are turned into electronic pulses
in the brain and then sent through the nervous system through the
use of neurotransmitters. Not everyone's brain is wired in the same
way. Some people have trouble passing information back and forth
between the neural network of fibers in the corpus callosum, (the
network of nerves that allows the right and left hemispheres to
communicate). Other people's neuronal hardwiring is such that what
they see is miscued in the brain. A dyslexic alters the linear patterns
most of us perceive as letters and turns them around. This makes
it very difficult for them to learn to read and to interpret symbols.
If hardwiring of the brain is not uniform we are not all receiving
the same set of electronic impressions.
eye/brain perceptual relationship cannot always be relied upon to
see a consistent cohesive reality. As noted by Karl Pribram, originator
of the holographic brain theory at Stanford University, "You
see, your brain is operating in two modes simultaneously. You have
the spatial representation, which maps the retinal image onto the
cortex. And then, in the membranes of the cells, the image is transformed
back into the frequency mode - the scatter that you'd see if you
saw without a lens. The neuron's code for storing information resembles
the interference patterns on the holograph plate... If we got rid
of our 'lenses,' we'd experience the interference patterns themselves.
We would be in the pre frequency domain. What would that domain
look like? Ask the mystics. Though they have trouble describing
it, too...Space and time would be collapsed, or as I prefer to say,
enfolded. Think of an EEG recording. On the vertical axis you have
amplitude; on the horizontal axis, frequency. There's no space and
what is interpreting the images that are perceived through the lenses
of the eye and recorded in the brain? The eye and the brain are
merely the material receptors of impressions. The something else
that interprets the impressions that are recorded by the eye and
brain is consciousness. What you actually see will be altered and
manipulated by how you feel about what you see, or, if you have
had any previous experience with what you are seeing.
Capra expressed in his book The Turning Point, "Recent neurophysiological
studies have shown that the modification of sensory perception by
past experiences, expectations and purposes occurs not only in the
interpretation but begins at the very outset, at the 'gates of perception'.
Numerous experiments have indicated that the registration of data
by the sense organs will be different for different individuals
before perception is experienced. These studies show that the physiological
aspects of perception cannot be separated from the psychological
aspects of interpretation. Moreover, the new view of perception
also blurs the conventional distinction between sensory and extrasensory
perception - another vestige of Cartesian thinking - by showing
that all perception is, to some extent, extrasensory." He was referring
to an article on Perception and Commitment by Robert B. Livingston
in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 1963.
your eyes and brain cannot be counted upon to give you a completely
accurate version of what you perceive, and, your consciousness
is also altering perception according to your predisposed attitudes,
what do you do with the information you are receiving? This
the crux of the argument. Is the image to the right real or
not? Can it be constructed in real life? No, but it can be rendered
two dimensionally, so is it still real? What is reality and
what is illusion? Is it possible for two people to view the
same reality? Except for a quasi agreement of what is real and
not real, are any of us experiencing the same reality?
not. You and I can both agree when we see the color red. We have
defined the frequency called red in the electromagnetic spectrum.
But if you are "color blind" then what you see as red and what I
perceive red to be will be entirely different. We are both interpreting
the same frequency of light called "red", but what we are seeing
is not the same because our receptors filter that frequency differently.
that is why Eastern religions refer to the world as being 'Maya'
or illusion. It's not that the world isn't there, or that things
don't exist. But, we are relying on our senses, which filter information
through the brain, and each of us has a unique and differently wired
brain. These impressions are further colored by personal alterations
in conscious and emotional preferences.
the only way to perceive what might be considered 'reality' would
be to eliminate the use of the senses and just use consciousness.
As Judith Hooper acknowledges in The Three-Pound Universe, "the
sweet and bitter fruits of the tree are like Maya; they are the
laughter and tears in a movie, compelling only so long as we're
inside the darkened theater. God lies outside the 'world of opposites,'
heaven and hell, I and thou, subject and object, and the terminally
spinning hamster wheel of pleasure and pain. To enter this realm
beyond duality, one must free oneself from the addictions of the
that the senses are not accurate indicators of what is 'real' is
the first step to experiencing an objective reality. This is necessary
to the creative mind. You must reach beyond the information your
senses are giving you as you assess the world around you. You must
be able to obtain a state of consciousness that is sensually unfiltered
before you will truly experience anything but a self-created illusion.
resolution of problems or creative solutions to artistic work demands
coherent thought. As we have learned on other parts of this site,
the brain's wiring can be altered and improved. Along with improving,
expanding and rewiring the neuronal pathways, we need to access
the information held between the synaptic clefts. This is where
inspiration and insight make their appearance, as if "out of the
blue". They appear as whole gestalts. These are the cohesive, coherent
impressions that engender creative clarity.
offer many techniques on this site to expand your intuitive, inspirational
and insightful abilities. These are The Pregnant Pause, Remote Viewing, and
Zen of Pondering Puzzles. If you were to print out the image
at the top of this page, enlarge it and stare at it for at least
ten minutes, you would notice some interesting effects. Not only
would it begin to move, but you would be in an altered state of
consciousness. It is in an altered state that insightful thoughts
are most easily received.
It is also helpful to look at images by artists such as M.C. Escher.
You can see some of his work on our Studies in Genius page. For a
glance at how visual paradox can influence creativity you might
want to look at our piece on Paradox.
If you want to improve your ability to discern illusion from reality
open your mind to your sixth sense and learn to cultivate its
powers. Your creativity will vastly improve and become much more
spontaneous and effective.
J.L. Read, 1997. All Rights Reserved.
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