Archive for the ‘mental concepts’ Category


I was reading a quote from Juhani Pallasmaa’s “The Eyes of the Skin”, in which the author states “The inhumanity of contemporary architecture and cities can be understood as the consequence of the negligence of the body and the senses, and an imbalance in our sensory system. The growing experiences of alienation, detachment and solitude in the technological world today, for instance, may be related with a certain pathology of the senses… The dominance of the eye and the suppression of the other senses tends to push us into detachment, isolation, and exteriority.” This is so utterly fascinating I can hardly stand it. And yet, here I am (was), staring at a computer screen typing the words you will (are) read(ing), engaging little more than your eyes and brain. This is exactly what Pallasmaa’s talking about with regard to architecture, but it’s true for so much more in our lives. The internet allows us all to connect in ways never known before, and yet the “reality” of those connections aren’t actually all that “real”. This isn’t a tome about getting up and exercising or going out and “experiencing” the world, it’s about the shut-down of real human interaction. It’s about teenage kids who smear one another across MySpace and back in heated arguments while sitting ten feet apart in a high school computer lab. It’s about this growing sense of isolation that feels very real to me and that extends beyond electrons and into our offices, our churches, our public squares, and on and on. We perpetuate this offense in our daily lives. When you don’t believe what I believe, I become “us” and you become “them.” Exclusivity begets isolation and numbs true empathy. True enlightenment comes when I finally see you=me vs. me=you, only right.

The rest of the quote above (and then some) is here:



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Digital Hues

I always just assumed that everyone saw numbers and letters like I did. When I was in college I brought it up with some friends of mine. They looked at me like I had divulged that I believed in leprechauns.

I was explaining my mental image of the alphabet, how it started in the East and proceeded West, and you looked at it with your back to the North, looking South. The time of day is late afternoon, and it is very overcast. There are a lot more details, but at this point I knew my friends didn’t share this same concept. I have a very specific mental image of the number system as well.

The number system starts in the North and you are looking at it from the West side facing East. It starts low and moves up to plateaus every group of ten until you hit 100, with a especially steep incline through the teens with a high, abrupt plateau at 20. Then it plateaus every group of 100 until you hit 1000, where it makes a hard turn toward into the East, continuing ad infinitum (going up and down at very specific points. It makes another slight turn toward the South, and it doubles back several times). Again, there are a lot of other more specific details, but it is difficult to explain in a clear, definitive way. I also have a mental picture of a day, a week, and a year. For some reason I have no mental image of a month. Not sure why.

I know I am not the only one that thinks like this. Though it is difficult to explain how a year is a large circle on a 30 degree slant, low in the North, high in the South, I can easily describe the color of each of the first nine digits. Well, seven of the nine digits. Here they are:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Not sure why 1 and 5 have no specific color. They just don’t.

Like I said, I am sure I am not the only one that thinks this way.

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So I was thinking once again about science the other day. No particular field or brand of science. Just science. And about how different people understand certain values very differently. For example, a ton probably doesn’t mean much to an engineer designing massive dams, bridges, or skyscrapers. But it can mean quite a bit to a rodeo clown. Especially when the animal looking to exact its revenge on humankind weighs about that much AND has, at its extremities, hard, pointy things with which he hopes to impale someone. And while quantum physicists concern themselves with a world smaller than an atom, cosmologists’ calculations involve distances measured in light years and masses greater than that of our own sun. A fraction of a second can make all the difference in track and field, but cat-like reflexes aren’t exactly required to win the world chess championship. And while this is all very fascinating, what I find truly wonderful is how all of these people for whom those things on which the very balance of all life hangs differ with a magnitude of but an entire spectrum can live without killing one another. Ah science…

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