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Mongzong Lo

Alan MacCormack
Power and Imagination
October 28, 2014
Observation of my Surroundings
Throughout my life, Ive never tried to observe my surroundings to see what came up
within my mind. As I sat on the bench observing my perception processes, I mostly heard the
English voice because it was a noise I have heard all my life and understood. I could hear birds
chirping, but since I didnt understand its noise, it didnt enter my radar as anything significant.
During in the observation, I realized that I have been screening out noises and things that arent
related to what I am associated with.
In the observation assignment, my mind processed information just by giving me
information to assess the situation I was in. My mind constantly informed me what I saw or
heard. However, some things around me were neglected, such as the trees and the insects on the
ground. Many people would overlook these things as trivial matter, like myself. I find it
interesting that I overlooked the insects but noticed the dog strolling by. Perhaps part of my
cultural perspective overlooked these small things, only noticing the dog because everyone
would have taken notice of the dog. As a student in elementary school, I touched ants and
grabbed flies with my bare hands. When I grew up, my parents had implanted into my brain that
I shouldnt touch insects or bugs, so my perspective shaped into believing that those bugs were
disgusting and insignificant, so I either used a napkin to touch them or just ignored them until
they left the area.
My experience from the observation assignment was in a way similar to the Lessings
Autobiography, where she showed us that people had many perspectives and that there was no
true way to see things. As I developed my perspective from my families and friends side, I never
saw anything with a different perspective from theirs. With the insects again, Ive never paid any
attention to them, but someone such as an entomologist (whom Ill probably never meet) would
pay attention to insects because they would see insects in a different perspective than mine. That
entomologist may be intrigued with how some insects build their colonies, while Id find insects
uninteresting and stay away from insects all together.
A robot from How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker, took and analyzed every data it
could see within view, which was really different from the way I perceived data. I noticed after
reading On Looking by Alexandra Horowitz, that the robot took in everything and tried to make
sense of it, but I only focused on a few objects, and ignored the rest within my peripheral vision.
When I was observing the father and the son throw their football, I focused on them, and the
trees around me became less defined, while the hammering noise from the construction toned
down. The way I saw things was like adjusting a microscope and I knew what I wanted to focus
on, while the robot saw everything as numbers and had focus on everything.
In the Secrets of the Mind, there was an interesting scene with the lady named Peggy, who
drew her daisies one sided. This scene showed me that there were conditions that could affect the
way a person viewed the world. The things that Peggy would normally see on her left side were

distorted, which resulted in her daisies becoming one sided. Just as I had been neglecting some
noises and objects, Peggy neglected the attention she had on the left side of her vision. She was
unable to see in a regular persons perspective. Everything I see and the way the world looks like
to me is deciphered by my brain, which makes me think about whether everything we perceive is
actually what it is. The lady didnt know that she was drawing her daisies incorrectly, until she
was told otherwise.
All these different perspectives from myself, the robot and Peggy shows that there are
multiple ways to perceive information in front of us. I could focus on watching a father play
football with his son, and the lady could imagine a daisy in her mind. However, there were data
that we miss and screen out, such as the bugs I ignored and the left side of Peggys vision being
blank.