How important to our concept of ‘self’ is the idea that we all see the same world - yet we now know that we do not?
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In bleak unknown seas simple celled life
rose to the surface, drawn to the sky’s light
or sunk to darkness to avoid sunburn.
Slowly yellow and blue imprinted in genes
for millenia these were the only codes
the rest was shades of grey.
After aeons these limits unlocked -
as structures of rods and cones evolved
within the eyes of dominant Primates,
to show the red and the green spectrum.
A massive uplift of perception,
new selectors for fruit or danger.
An extended palette with combinations
that gave their descendents the World.
We now know that colour is an illusion
produced within the brain, memory generated
by events and language, then modified by mood.
So we exist in a uniquely coloured World
where we can match any single shade, yet
complex combinations and juxtapositions
form a personal perception in our cortex.
How smooth the process, how convinced we are
by what we think we see.
Dragonflies rise with ease above the heated sandy path
bejewelling the flowering heather’s brevity.
Reminded of mortality, I seek red in the Oaks
and am almost re-assured by a line of wilting green
until swarming black insects enter the scene
not externally, but ‘floaters’ swimming in the eye,
- vitreous jelly debris, casting shadows on the retina.
An unmissable message of encroaching entropy
ignored as an undulating Yaffle cackles on the Heath
- red, green and yellow swoops low over purple.
If there is no shared reality, this still satisfies me.
‘Yaffle’ is the onamatopoeic name in the Suffolk dialect for the Green Woodpecker.