How much of what we see, or a better term might be “perceive,” is “real?”
In a historic context, we can travel to ancient lands and see ruins or magnificent architecture that’s 2,000+ years old, or we can go to Disneyland or Las Vegas and see something almost exactly like it, in many ways even more magnificent. “Real” or “fake?”
If you ever have any eye issues you’ll start to see just how personal that distinction can be. I’m dealing with a little issue with floaters and flashes of light, which I’m told is normal and harmless and it will go away on its own soon. How? How will it “go away?” Are they going to give me some pills, or do some sort of surgery, or should I put warm compresses or ice packs (or both) on my eyeballs? No, my brain will just learn to ignore them, they say.
So far all my brain is doing is screaming, “SPIDER!” or “FLY!” or “LIZARD!” or “LOOK OUT!!” about every fifteen seconds, which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds.
Many years ago as my vision started to deteriorate I had laser surgery on my eyes and ended up with “EAGLE VISION!” It was great! I went from being unable to read or see anything at a distance without glasses (“Bats use me as a role model,” to quote a line from a long forgotten 1986 Jeffrey Tambor sitcom that lasted only eleven episodes) to being able to read “Copyright (C) 2004 Acme Eye Chart Company” at the very, very bottom of the sign.
This is sort of the reverse of that and it sucks. Painless (fortunately, ’cause I’m a wussy boy) but annoying as all get out. And they aren’t kidding – “just be patient” is the #1 piece of advice, unless it gets so bad that they put you on the list for an eyeball transplant.
“Just be patient” – HAVE THEY EVER MET ME??!!
So, my eyes might be lying to me, just a bit. It’s like my very own, personal optical illusion, 24/7/365.
But then I start asking questions and trying to troubleshoot it. For example, the flashes of light… I get that I don’t really see them in normal lighting or daylight, but if I go wandering around the yard after dark to try to look at the stars (and boy, take a look around this site for the past several years and look at all of the astrophotography and astronomy and space related stuff there is and you’ll know just how PISSED I am that I’m having real problems with THAT manifestation of this issue!) I’m seeing flashes every time I blink or move my eyes. It’s dark there, the relatively dim flashes stand out. Uh-huh. So why when I close my eyes do I never see flashes. Or when I just cover my eyes with my hands? Only when my eyes are wide open and I’m in a dark location?
Or not when I lay down at night? Maybe it’s a horizontal-vs-vertical thing? Nope, go outside at night, lie down on the sidewalk (it’s okay, the neighbors already know I’m a little odd) and I still see them.
So I ask the nice eye doctor folks about it. And they just smile, and nod, and put notes in my file, AND NEVER ANSWER. Because they don’t know.
This further supports the theory (and just to be clear, I’m joking here, I don’t want this to be the accidental start of another bullshit theory for the anti-vaxxing, science-denying, conspiracy-theory whack jobs to run with) that medicine and science aren’t real at all and this eye thing is a personal punishment from God just to piss me off.