Figure/Ground


"Which it really was never really mattered."

I believe that I live in a holographic universe where what I see ain't exactly what's there. This belief could certainly drive me crazy if I took it too seriously; for instance, if I believed that something of genuine substance really should be there. I understand that my first pratfall should have persuaded me to take these holograms seriously, but sensation also seems rather holographic, transitory by nature, there then gone. This whole place seems like a figure/ground projection where whatever's attracting my attention amounts to the figure and everything else, backdrop ground, hardly perceived, so hardly there. Both the figure and the ground also seem continually present, only distinguished by where I'm focusing. How real is real? Not terribly, I say.

Physics seems to stack up on my side of this controversy, explaining as it does how everything's composed of stuff we cannot perceive in its native atomic state.
If that tree seems to vibrate, it might be because it is vibrating, shimmering in a nearly invisible dance of molecules strangely attracted but hardly static. Same with me. I'm not a thing but a collective, an intricate balancing of atoms and microbes I would never recognize as so closely related to me were I to pass any one of them particles in the corridor. My self-image and my shifting self-esteem seem about as tangible as that Big Dipper I perceive dangling from the sky. I dare not take any of it too seriously.

But how seriously might be just seriously enough? Heck, I can't answer that question, either. I've learned to begrudgingly respect the gas range, especially since it singed my finger last week. That finger's well on its way to healing itself back to the point that I will soon forget exactly where the blister rose and how it stung when it popped. I figure that everything's basically a miracle, though many apparent items seem to have grown cold and weary, perhaps due to over familiarity. My eye prefers to catch new figures and grows bored with constant grounds. Too much exposure and even a once alluring figure simply seems to fade into ground. I hardly perceive what I'm most accustomed to.

My life confuses me more than it enlightens me. I understand almost none of it. I catch myself wrestling with concepts which don't seem to trouble many of my fellows' eyes. I cannot reliably distinguish between distraction and substance, though the difference might not matter. If this were a universe comprised of reliably tangible stuff, such distinctions might matter. In that universe, how much money someone accumulated might matter more. Owning stuff might qualify as some sort of accomplishment. But as configured, this universe seems to amount to little more than medium, a blank slate sort of place where how we perceive matters much more than what we play with or what we convince ourselves we've accomplished from playing. In my relative youth, I concluded that most every difficulty could be completely resolved through re-framing, by fiddling with the parsing mechanism imbedded in my perception. Tragedy could become comedy, or comedy tragedy, simply by shifting how I framed my perception. I underestimated, though, just how difficult we humans (what passes for myself included) find it to shift our frames of perception. I get stuck within them, generally unaware that I'm perceiving or framing at all, temporarily unaware that I'm the one creating the Big Dipper.

It IS a Big Dipper to me. I can see it so I'm supposed to be believing it's there. My certainty scares me some days. I sense that I cannot only perceive what's before me, but what's ahead of me and far behind me, too, though I seem to be endlessly sifting through possibilities. My story changes over time. What I once knew for certain doesn't seem nearly so certain any more. What I once refused to believe in, I now accept without any tussle. It's all a sort of hustle, I suspect, phantom figures projected onto equally fallacious grounds. I project a story, find it inexplicably believable, so I proceed. Each perception only ever seems to need belief for a moment or two before another perception elbows its way in. What seemed like a bear becomes a raven, and what seemed so convincingly like a raven, equally convincingly turns into a definite bear. Which it really was never really mattered.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









blog comments powered by Disqus