Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Checkershadow Illusion

Here's a neat optical illusion presented by Edward Adelson at the Perceptual Science Group at MIT. The squares marked A and B are the same shade of gray, yet they appear different. By joining the squares marked A and B with two vertical stripes of the same shade of gray, it becomes apparent that both squares are the same. Here are lots of Flash movies of some other really cool illusions.

Fusion and synthesis

We often hear the cliché that truth emerges through the clash of opinions in the "marketplace of ideas." This is the ideal of democracy, of unregulated free speech, of political factions, and to a certain limited extent, it is obviously true. We wouldn't want to live in a place where someone's version of truth was handed down from on high, and we were not free to discover it.
But there is lower truth and higher Truth, discovered truth and revealed Truth, inductive truth and antecedent Truth. In each case, the former is the type of truth that may be fought out and determined in the marketplace of ideas, while the latter is only apprehended in another way. In that case, fighting it out the way you would a spending bill, a scientific debate, or a legal case would only muddy the water and debase and distance ourselves from the Truth we are seeking.
The sort of Truth discussed on this blog does not emerge through contra-versy, that is, "flowing against." Rather, it is only achieved through con-versing, or "flowing together." All of my work is the end product of years of "conversing" that you cannot know about. Nor can you know about my subservience to, and reverence for, those who surpass my understanding.
That is, it is a work of fusion and synthesis that could only be achieved by dwelling in a multitude of disparate and outwardly contradictory particulars and allowing their higher truth to emerge at their own rhythm and pace. This truth cannot be imposed from on high. Nevertheless, once it is revealed, it reveals itself to be from "on high." It is a higher truth that flows from a "center," not on the same plane as the lower truths it synthesizes. When I talk about this truth, there is a knee-jerk instinct in some to treat it as any other truth available on a lower plane. This reflects the independent American spirit of "everyone's entitled to their own opinion." Yes, that's true, as far as it goes.
I remember a couple years ago, when I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. I might have said to my doctor, "Well, that's your opinion. You're entitled to it, but I have my own ideas." I might have then tried to bait him into debating me. "What, just because you have some fancy letters after your name, you think you're better than me? What do you mean by 'disease?' Are you saying that people without diabetes are better than people with it? Why do you hate diabetics? Are diabetics evil?" posted by Gagdad Bob at 6:29 AM