Nothing like a post-snow-day to do some reading and get the mind stimulated, so this Friday I turn your attention to an article titled, “The Art of Looking“. It’s a review article of a book by the same name that explores the art of seeing. In a nutshell, the author takes trips around the block she lives on in the city with 11 different companions, and during each walk she observes the different experiences that she has based on how each of her companions view their surroundings. It’s a social experiment that dives deep into the world of concentration, or as she calls it, “adaptive ignorance.”
Our concentration allows us to put on “blinders” of sorts so that we can place more of our attention elsewhere. “We summarize and generalize, stop looking at particulars and start taking in scenes at a glance—all in an effort to not be overwhelmed visually when we just need to make it through the day.” In the past it was probably a mechanism in place to help us survive and “while this might make us more efficient in our goal-oriented day-to-day, it also makes us inhabit a largely unlived — and unremembered — life, day in and day out.” It’s interesting because with each companion it’s as if she’s going on a completely different walk than what she’s already described, but it’s not, and it’s all based on different perspectives.
For me the article raises questions about what we do and don’t see, and how those decisions are unconsciously made, and yet still, how our life could have been completely different viewed from a different lens. What things are you making the unconscious decision to tune out? What reasoning is in place that permits those decisions? Who put it there and does it still serve you?