【Part 1】 The sixth sense: The visual transformation
Three-month time has swept past the first dawn of the new decade. We, Vietnamese people, have this ritual of sharing out loud our goals and wishes we desire to achieve at the beginning of a year. It was January 1st of 2020, the starting point of a new decade, and I told my friends (many friends!) that I would write blogs more often. It is March 15th now, and I barely wrote any blog posts in the past three months. Damn crazy-lazy, ha?
“Come on. Life is already hard enough. Don’t tell me what I should do. Don’t judge me because of those little wishes spilled out from my mouth when I drunken to death on that first dawn.”
Please, don’t judge me right there or misunderstand me as an untrustworthy badass who unashamedly self-deceived to cover his incomplete words of honor. Had I self-deceived, my ego would have strangled me to death before I could justify anything.
Books changed me.
I decided to let my ego step behind and live the way I feel more comfortable, the life of the physical me entirely in control. No external forces should be allowed to hold on to me.
I decided not to write because I did not feel like I had the right motivation and emotion to write.
Well, apparently, I am not there yet, but I am leaving behind the old me and moving forward to a better me.
And books are changing me every day.
To many friends of mine and those people knowing me via the Internet, I have been an active advocate of book-reading. Speaking of the truth, I had never found the right reasons even within myself and the right words to vocalize my thoughts. Finally, what-should-come came. Here I will share with you four miracles happening to me in the journey of my first 47 books.
The sixth sense. The visual transformation
The visual transformation always turns into animated conversations whenever I have time gossiping with my friends with a cup of coffee. I choose the term “visual transformation” to underscore extensive changes in the ways we see people and perceive experiences. Though we primarily have five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste, the optic is unmistakably by far the most powerful sensory system. The eyeball dedicated to the vision-only system takes a considerable proportion in the brain skull, and “neurons devoted to visual processing take up to 30 percent of the cortex, as compared with 8 percent for touch and 3 percent for hearing”*. Eyes take care of an enormous amount of raw information from the world. Sights, however, oft-times deceive us into thinking what appears on the surface is what it is as a whole. It is the sixth sense which I use in this blog to indicate a part of the brain processing so much information, filtering out noise and getting so sensitive to experiences main sensed through eyes, but also the other four senses.
If you are reading this blog, odds are you have fully developed into an adult who perceives people, objects, events, and any other visible things you visually become aware of with feelings. The odds are you judge things within your minds: this is bad, that is good, this is acceptable, that is immoral, these are ugly, those are beautiful, et cetera. You are emotionally experiencing things happening around you, which is natural. However, I believe people different and indifferently smart than others in how deep and far they can reach just by looking at things and the surface. Reading books is one way I believed trains me to become someone who could look further and more profound than what things seem to be to many people, and the truth is that I felt it. What I see is no different from others, but what I feel is evolving through every book I read, every video (not all videos) I watched, every conversation I had with people experiencing enough to reveal the unknown to me. All information I have run though leads me to the truth that there is no truth, and everything is relatively good and bad. Theoretically speaking, I seldom see ANYthing as too good or too bad; there is no extreme existing in this world because none of us are the center and have no right to judge. This might be as bad as when we naively accept things as they are at the surface. Does it make us indecisive? In fact, NO. I know the limitation of knowledge that sometimes things cannot be absolutely justified by reasons. We will never reach there. I think, however, we have to decide what is right and what is wrong based on a specific set of available conditions, and now YES, knowledge from books (and many other resources) gives me an acute sense of righteousness.
Newborn infants babble Apple when they see an apple-like object, but do not have a particular feeling to it, and they are apparently too young to understand more complex social meanings embedded in humans’ actions. Young children and especially teenagers, gradually move from the sense of physical objects to the sense of righteousness. They judge whether it is a safe-to-eat apple or a rotten one, but they don’t ask further why it is safe or unsafe or what makes it so. A full-grown human, however, should be able to ask those questions, plus view the healthy/ rotten apple from different angels (doubting whether it is really safe or rotten, questioning if it is really safe or rotten as it seems to be) in order to integrate into the world. In another way of thinking, babies perceive themselves as the center of the world, and it is usually acceptable, while adults must move away from that idea. If you perceive as a child and act like you are the center of everything, you would be isolated from our inclusive society. For me, this is a move from a physical world (concrete) to an emotional world (abstract).
The above passage might sound abstract because it really is abstract. To keep the consistency, I might make the Apple example incomprehensible to some of you. What I meant is not a concrete object, but a social event. For instance, reusing some sentences from a well-known book is plainly an act of plagiarism, wrongdoing until we think about it from many angles. Is it genuinely done deliberately? Or is it for the purpose of creativity? If every new book is written with non-overlapping details with others? As Malcolm says in What the Dog Saw: “Old words in the service of a new idea aren’t the problem**,” things happening in our world usually fall in this grey area. And, I believe getting high-quality information (not always) from books is one way to get better at visually experiencing the world.
* The Vision Thing: Mainly in the Brain. Retrieved from: https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/the-vision-thing-mainly-in-the-brain
** What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell
【Part 2】 The brain: Connecting your Dots
【Part 3】The satisfaction: A little happy being
【Part 4】The soul: A miracle world