The simple act of looking is one of the most complex processes that our body carries out. It is also a perfect illusion, because it convinces us that reality is universally identical.
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How convinced we are that what we see is true.
We think, if nothing else, we can believe our eyes –
but these light receptors have a coloured history.
In raw, unknown, pre-historic seas
simple celled life rose to the surface,
drawn to the Sun’s life-enhancing light.
Infinitesimally genes were imprinted
encoded to recognise yellow and blue,
the only hues in those drab millennia,
all other awareness was shaded to grey.
Aeons later the block was unlocked, as
within the eyes of dominant Primates
constructs of cones and rods evolved
the spectrum bloomed in reds and greens.
A spectacular uplift in visual perception,
new selectors for fruits or danger alerts.
An extended palette, whose combinations
gave their distant descendants the Earth.
We now know colour is a personal illusion –
a brain production, managed by memory
events and language, modified by mood.
Each of us lives in a uniquely coloured world,
where we can map and match individual shades,
but never can know what other people see.
Chemistry and physics structure our vision
in subtle interactions and juxtapositions
creating perception in our cerebral cortex.
How complex the process; how certain we are
of the self-confirming power of sight.
Dragonflies rise from the warm sandy path
bejewelling the heather’s flowering brevity.
an undulating Yaffle cackles as it flies
– red, green and yellow swoops over purple.
This vibrant kaleidoscope cites my reality.
‘Yaffle’ is the onomatopoeic name in the Suffolk dialect for the Green Woodpecker