Thursday, September 01, 2005

from the book Breaking Open The Head, by Daniel Pinchbeck

Modernism caused a profound shift in the way we use our senses. In his book Myth and Meaning, Levi-Strauss admittd to his intial shock when he discovered that Indian tribesmen were able to see the planet Venus in daylight, with the naked eye--"something that to me would be utterly impossible and incredible." But he learned from astronomers that it was feasible, and he found ancient accounts of Western navigators with the same ability. "Today we use less and we use more of our mental capacity than we did in the past," he realized. We have sacrificed perceptual capabilities for other mental abilities- to concentrate on a computer screen while sitting in a cubicle for many hours at a stretch (something those Indians would find "utterly impossible and incredible"), or to shut off multiple levels of awareness aw we drive a car in heavy traffic. In other words, we are brought up within a system that teaches us to postpone, defer, and eliminate most incoming sense data in favor of a future reward. We live in a feedback loop of perpetual postponement. For the most part, we are not even aware of what we have lost.

1 comment:

Recycled Soul said...

Very interesting, and quite true. I find then I am able to refocus my mental power in to more aware-concious techniques if I choose to, but they easily fall into the Americanized shut-down mode as a result of sensory overload by corporate America.