Perception so Foreign as to be Invisible to Native Eyes
The Native Americans could not see Columbus’s ships floating in the waters off of the Eastern seaboard. They had no cognitive metaphor for what a ship was and therefore, could not visualize the ships themselves even though the ships were physically right in front of their eyes.
All the Native Americans could see was ripples coming to the shoreline and splashing against the beach. It took their spiritual leaders, who had heightened senses of perception, a few days to ponder the ripples in the water. Only after this pondering, did the ships appear right in front of their eyes.
The spiritual leaders then took this discovery to the common citizenry, who believed in the perception of their leaders, only then being able to see the ships for themselves actually for the first time. This realization caused the ships to materialize out of thin air, or so it would have seemed to the amazed onlookers.
Isaac Newton and the Problem With His Eternal, Cosmic Apple
Fast forward a few centuries, back across the pond from where Columbus docked, and to Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree. With the apple that fell on his head, the same one he believed a woman got everyone kicked out of the Garden of Eden by taking from a talking snake, Newton was able to ponder the theory of gravity.
What is more though, with Newton’s own limited perceptual capabilities, he was also able to infallibly make sense of the entire workings of the Universe-planets, stars, and infinite space and time; all from the comfort and shade of that apple tree. With Newton and that apple tree incident, Classical Newtonian Physics was born.
But Newton, just like the Native Americans, relied on his spiritual leaders as well to make sense for him of what exactly he had witnessed. For Newton was quite religious actually. He even wrote several times that he never would upset his Creator God, who was Christian but more specifically Protestant, with any of his, Newton’s, theories.
Newton’s Perception as Incomplete Reality at Best or Worst
This admission might very well explain the 3rd party omniscient observation tendencies of Newtonian classical physics, logic and reason. To him, humankind is only an observer; with the workings of the Universe, both above and below relegated to some invisible, omnipotent Creator.
The ideological and perceptual viewpoint saying the Heavens and the Earth, beginning at the atomic level, are solid, fixed, absolute and unflinchingly orderly is definitely the dominant Western societal perceptual viewpoint to the present day–but still cannot explain how Columbus’s ships materialized out of thin air to Native American eyes in the Caribbean.
Or for that matter, and referring now to hard scientific rationale and observation, how about black holes, curved space and any other anomaly Newton was not able to perceive from his limited perceptual and ideological viewpoint; which the books and schools of thought he had access to, dogmatic and otherwise, didn’t understand or at least explicate if they did. Instead, the Heavens and Earth were created in 6 days, Newton’s Observer rested on the 7th, and there is nothing more to see here people, so move on.
According to Newtonian classical Physics, we understand everything above as well as below, and have arrived at our teleological endpoint. Newton got it as right as it gets, with just two eyes and an apple tree. Oh, and with his own limited perceptual view regarding how the Universe functions; based on what his ideological biases told him were gospel and ultimate, infallible truth.
Metaphor, Narrative and the Finite Limits of Perceptual Observation
Human beings think in metaphor. A metaphor is an idea or ideal, such as a reality espoused in a holy book, or a Physics or Economics textbook for that matter. Metaphors rely on transmission through narrative devices. Books, multimedia outlets, classes or services–dogmatic and otherwise, are examples of narratives.
Metaphors are perpetuated through the creation and sharing of narrative devices. Shared ideological and perceptual metaphors through narrative transmission of any sort are what create and sustain a community. A community after all, is nothing more than a group of people who share similar metaphors and narratives; thus enjoying a status quo or shared ‘normal’ comfort zone based on their metaphors.
But human beings also think, see and hear with very limited and imperfect perception. After all, human eyes only transmit to the brain, a very small percentage of the visible spectrum of all available light present on and around planet Earth. And human ears, well, the ears hear even less of all the available sound then the human eyes process and send to the brain; thereby allowing for the limited senses of sight and sound.
And what of the brain or mind? Human beings only use maybe 8 or 9% of all available cognitive capabilities and potentials encompassed in that mushy mass within their skulls. There is over 90% more to tap into. But the still dominant forms of metaphor and narrative transmission in the classical Newtonian Physics mold means that many humans are stuck in a very limited cognitively perceptual state.
Perception as Mythological Fallibility; Not Absolute Truth, Logic or Reason
The Native Americans lack of a metaphor regarding what a ship was; leading it be at first invisible, then materializing out of air begs the question of what reality is or even could be? This example of a limited perceptual view minus metaphor to make further sense also begs a larger question. Namely, how classical Physics can explain this; since according to Newton’s physical theories, what the Native Americans experienced cannot really happen if the Universe above and below is solid and fixed like he and classical Physicists say it has to be?
Or maybe more importantly, what is reality really, and what should our place in the larger reality all around us be? That is, if human beings can allow their minds to open up to other ways and means of being and doing their eyes cannot otherwise see. Other realities, other perceptions; and thus, maybe being able to experience things existing all around us, with or in spite of our otherwise limited senses.
These multiple and alternate realities, in the end, might just be real. And what is more, they might be more real than the limited sights, sounds and experiences that might not be as absolute, solid and fixed as our imperfect human minds, eyes and ears process and perceive.
The Relative Quantum Mechanist: Einstein’s Stringy Tree of Life
Albert Einstein once wrote, “Religion, the arts and sciences are all branches of the same tree.” There are many cultures around the world both anciently and modernly speaking who perceive the world differently than the dominant Western one does. However, the tangible, physical and because of that, knowledge based capital on most of this planet since the time of Newton belongs to a dominant culture Newton himself was a member of.
To this day exist yogis, sages and other spiritual adepts, East and West, who perform physically defying and unexplainable acts seemingly more like miracles or illusions. Or, it seems so at least to anyone whose limited perceptual and ideological viewpoint doesn’t allow for such phenomena to be understood by their imperfect eyes and mind that is.
Western civilization still educates its citizenry under the shadow of Newtonian physical theory. Because of this limited understanding and the perpetuation of centuries old perceptual and ideological biases, Quantum Physics and other schools of thought not easily compatible with dominant metaphors and narratives receive skeptical or no attention whatsoever in many instances; institutionally and academically speaking.
Professionals and Clergy of most Western denominatory sorts defend this limited Newtonian perceptual viewpoint; and receive support by political and economic forces. This helps keep the citizenry–unlike the way the Native American spiritual leaders treated their adherents, stuck and ignorant to an infinite amount of potential and possibility right in front of the citizenry’s eyes; but it’s still just unseen at the present, not non-existent by far. Because and just like Newton, these structures of reality are not only fallible, but also just as superstitious and ideologically biased based on dominant metaphor and narrative control and espousal as he was.
So its all theory and potential in the end and not much more solid or fixed than that; no matter what our limited and very imperfect human sense want to trick us into believing. Just like the larger, ever-evolving human experiment we all participate in each and every day. Have we really arrived at some perfect, teleological ending point? Or are we only now just beginning to shed our biases and limited perceptions of how and why the Universe works; and what is more, of our internal and external spaces and regarding each other, both above and more importantly in a human sense, below?