Postmodernism: what the heck is it and what does it have to do with cats and our perception of reality?
Having been taking photographs around Toronto lately using funky filters on my cheap indestructible smartphone camera (a knockoff Blackberry Motorola running Android)—no one else seems to own nor want to have—I have been enjoying the strange perceptions it’s given me, regarding light and how we view things–in my case the city, its architecture, its denizens and both its daytime and nighttime responses to light; or lack thereof.
After posting some of these shots online, I’ve received feedback such as: “What a crappy filter!” “Stop, that’s not reality!” “Why do you do that?!” “Is your camera broken?”
I like the perspective they give, I am not trying to be a true photographer; nor even claiming any sort of artistic license–although I guess those are simply granted by others if they appreciate/are emotionally affected by, what I am trying to capture or show with what I take pictures of, and the manner in which I take them. A ‘true photographer’ by my definition, is one able to replicate on demand, one who possesses the esoteric knowledge of depth of field, film speeds and what they alter, one who is capable of retaking the shot they took a year ago in almost any environmental condition, and the intelligence, education, skill and practice necessary for all of this. I possess none of these, and may never achieve this calibre of mastery, as I am one lazy sonofabitch.
Funnily though, I had been pondering how people online talk about cats–how stupid they are, or how nonsensical their behaviour be (or mystical or spiritual or…whatever). Living with a cat—one I consider pretty damn sharp—I’ve noticed similar behaviour; such as chasing things I can not see, or staring into the distance…
But I understand that she has optical apparati completely different from mine. Sometimes I’m able to catch a slight glimpse of something moving–perhaps a headlight on the wall, or a tiny flying insect, or someone a few blocks away opening a window and reflecting a quick flash of light from the sun through my apartment. But at other times, I too am at a loss. But this, to me at least, makes me aware of the limitations of my eyes, not the “stupidity of an animal”. I’ve read in some places where people have spoken of folktales where cats were said to communicate with the dead–again, for the same reasons. This of course just leads to my disappointment in humanity and people not using the gift of reason that we have evolved to possess.
Interestingly though, all of this has a lot to do with a metaphor I use regarding postmodern thinking and analysis. Lenses. Lenses provide us with a particular perspective, while limiting our vision at the same time. This is true in most every human enterprise, but namely politics. As I have grown older, I realize that I am accumulating more and more lenses of perception. As I spontaneously meet and engage intellectually with more and more humans (something I love about living in downtown Toronto in 2013), I find myself able to identify with, if not agree with completely, many who hold very strong views about a multitude of issues. Many though, seem to fail to understand that they may merely disagree with those towards whom they profess eternal hatred and enmity, due to a different lens or two..or ten. Most every human endeavour, in my opinion, seeks excellence as well as the betterment of something someone (or some group) holds dear. Humans are not intrinsically evil, nor out to hurt others, without some sense of righteousness. Unless of course they are insane, but that is not to what I refer.
The video below too, (a small vignette of a great documentary series by Richard Hammond called ‘Invisible Worlds’ by the way) made me realize something about reality–so much of what we consider (perceive as) beautiful in this world (flowers for example), we are ONLY limited to perceive through a narrow band of the light spectrum.
This is also true for our sense of hearing. This is a recording of cricket chirps slowed down so their lifespans match those of humans–they now sound like some sort of ethereal hymnal choir:
Our senses limit us in SO many ways, and yet we rarely, if ever, speak to this–we do not tell this to our children. Human-conceived religions and gods and ponderances of our eternal purpose consistently have failed to mention, oh, by the way, most of this reality? —is not available with our software edition. This is actually one of the greatest reasons NOT to believe in God or Intelligent Design or whatever, but I guess the same explanation has been used throughout the world for the contrary argument.
Which all brings me to a vsauce segment. I am addicted to vsauce. It is such the intellectually pornographic injection of thought. He touches on so much, much of what I had been thinking and articulated above, and then some. I have actually made good friends with familiar strangers, just by saying ‘vsauce’ to them instead of hello, on a regular basis.
Postmodern thinking asks you to ‘think outside the box’ but it assumes that you have in fact perceived the existence of a box. This perception requires an awareness of lenses in order that one can become aware of all kinds of boxes, and bubbles and biases; outside of which may just be other realities and dimensions you are unable, or have yet, to perceive.