I looked out of my study window yesterday and could see a bird sitting on the tree in the corner of the nearest vineyard. I couldn’t make out much more than it was a bird so I pointed my telescope at it, zoomed in, and saw it clearly. Covered in speckles. A thrush I guess.
Just for fun I held my camera up to the eyepiece of the telescope and got this shot.
I quite like it! It’s got almost a vintage feel to it.
It got me thinking of the way we look at things.
We focus in on parts of reality to try to clarify what we are looking at. We do that all the time. We might focus on certain parts of what we see and hear because they catch our attention, spike our curiosity or whatever. If we weren’t able to do that how could we make sense of our world? Our brains are receiving information from the external world (and at the same time from our inner bodily world) through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. How could we make sense of this information tsunami if we didn’t sift, select, and focus? Our left hemisphere is especially good at doing this. It’s no coincidence that the left hemisphere controls the right hand and that’s the hand most of us use to “grasp” things. That’s what this focus-ability does for us. It helps us to grasp things.
But I think it does something else too. It frames and it excludes. It sets whatever it is we are paying attention to not just centre stage, but often fills the entire stage. I’m not sure it’s helpful to think of these skills are either “good” or “bad”. They just have advantages and disadvantages. The major disadvantage is that this framing removes the object of our attention from its context. So unless we take the results of our grasping and let go off them as we pass them back to the right hemisphere for re-contextualising, then we form incomplete and, actually, imprecise understandings of things.
Funny that, really. You’d think we could be more precise by being more focused. Turns out focus is only part of the process. We need the context too.
Here’s a crop of that photo above to let you see the thrush a bit more like it was when I put my eye to the telescope.