We always make a decision. I type these words and you will decide what they mean to you. It doesn’t have to be deliberate. We are conditioned if we aren’t instead mindful. It will happen one way or another.
So yes, we cannot control our behaviour, but we can control our perceptions. What does this mean really? Well, let’s look at perception.
Our first and baseline perception is peace versus disturbance. Everything is ok, or something is wrong, and if something is wrong, then can we usually focus on anything else?
Not too easily. Remember earlier I mentioned that the brain primarily perceives contrast. We like high contrast environments, everything to be cut and dried, black and white, perfectly in order. Even those who have worked to diversify their perception still have this tendency at their core. What are some of the most popular works of art in history? What are the most popular forms of music? Rock versus smooth jazz. Which is more popular?
Rock. Classical versus Native American drumming?
Classical. The more complex, the less readily acceptable. Some of the most popular contemporary rock artists have borrowed heavily from African and Native American rhythms in their songs. We like symmetry. We consider the more symmetrical face to be more beautiful. We consider the non symmetrical face to be not only unattractive, but also possibly diseased. Is that not curious? Why would we consider uneven features to be signs of illness or weakness?
Order vs disorder? Disorder is decay? Indeed. Picassos work was significant, because he violated the expectation of natural symmetry and implemented another. He made an image “ugly” and made us still like it. And yet we cannot tolerate an image of a human being that is too perfect. Even chimpanzees get creeped out when they see such a face on a computer screen. Interesting, no?
An example of too perfect? Ah well, some of the computer graphics in recent CGI movies, like the Final Fantasy movie. People were made uneasy by watching those images, though there was nothing to take offence at aesthetically, and they have done experiments where they take a photo of someones face and “correct” it for symmetry.
I remember the mask that Tom Cruise wore in “Vanilla Sky.” Perfect, and creepy.
We suspect the artificial is too perfect, ‘not real’? Indeed, people report the corrected face as being less attractive, even unsettling. So it isn’t simply symmetry we are looking for.
We have a sense not only of our own well being, but of our relationship to the world around us, and in fact, we cannot correctly perceive our own presence if we are cut off from perceiving the world around us, like in a sensory isolation chamber. We cannot perceive our environment in an objective sense though. We perceive only ourselves projected onto the world.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.