Highlights and Humans

Highlights and Humans

1.

When you look at a sphere that’s glossy, you normally see a white point of light, called the highlight. You can measure the highlight. You can see that it’s white, not, say, purple. You can say that it’s half an inch tall, and three quarters of an inch wide, and roughly oval shaped. These are empirical, verifiable, undeniable truths.

When you move, the highlight moves with you, and from some vantage points you can’t see a highlight at all.

The reason is that the highlight doesn’t really exist. The highlight is empirical, verifiable, undeniable, and also doesn’t exist. Not exactly.

There’s really a sphere, and there’s really light hitting it and bouncing into your eyes. But the highlight appears where it does from your perspective because you’re standing in the right position for a lot of the light that’s hitting the sphere to bounce off directly into your eyes. The highlight is just a coincidence—an accident of how the whole scene with you, the sphere, and the light are arranged and how your perception is built. The highlight only exists insofar as you are present in the right context to perceive it.

In fact, the light that creates the highlight in your perception is in a lot more places than you can see, and the “highlight” is just an artifact of your limited ability to see all that light at once, even though it’s definitely there and you could see it if you had the right equipment. Instead you can only see a point of that light—the point that happens to be at exactly the right angle from the light source to the sphere into your eyes. But there’s a lot more light than that.

So the highlight is more a fact about you than it is a fact about the sphere or the light.

2.

You exist in the world. You have a gender, a brain, a history. You probably have an appendix. I can see you and measure you. These are empirical, verifiable, undeniable truths.

I may have seen you or talked to you at some point, and I may see you or talk to you in the future. There was a time when I couldn’t have perceived you because I wasn’t here or you weren’t or neither of us were. A time like that will probably come again.

The reason is that you don’t really exist. You are empirical, verifiable, undeniable, and also don’t exist. Not exactly.

There’s really a world, and there’s really a vast, intelligent light that you can perceive with your ego. But your ego, your body your life appear where they do from your perspective because You the Vastness are standing in the right position for a lot of that light to project directly into the pinpoint of your trip. The ego is just a coincidence—an accident of how the whole scene with You the Vastness, the world, and your ego are arranged and how your perception is built. You the Ego only exists insofar as You the Vastness are present in the right context to perceive it.

In fact, You the Vastness that creates the ego in your perception is in a lot more places than you can see, and the “ego” is just an artifact of your limited ability to see all that you are at once, even though you’re definitely there and could you see it if you had the right equipment. Instead you can only see a point of that light—the point that happens to be at exactly the right angle from the source of your light to the world and into your ego. But there’s a lot more light than that.

So the ego is more a fact about You the Vastness than it is a fact about the real world.

Responses

  1. Karilee ()

    Thanks, good reminder.

    You make my brain hurt in only the best ways, Pete!

    And the universe is kind, ’cause I always end up back here when I need to. (Reply)

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