Sunday, December 21, 2008

Do You See What I See?

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Of course not. Beyond the obvious religious implications (only a certain number of people acknowledge the star of Bethlehem, the Christ child and such), we don't see or hear (or for that matter know, as in the third verse of that carol) what others do. We are in a different spot with different sensory tools. Our brains are wired to interpret things in certain ways.

This shop window reflection looks almost bucolic because some growing thing (I'm not sure if it was a tree inside or on the sidewalk) imposes its random pattern. But it was taken on the decidedly industrial turned bar Fourth Street in the Warehouse District. The Christmas Balls (and the sign which says 'Please Present ID on Entry') are at Oil Can Harry's bar, one of the most venerable gay bars around.

I see me, hiding behind a camera and a pink cap. Has it occurred to anyone else that these images of me, reflected in reverse and often obscured remind one of identifying bank robbers in disguises. (I almost said in 'costumes.' Isn't it interesting that costumes and disguises can be the same thing, with different intention?)

Anyway. I digress. This isn't about crimes or even me and my reflection. Except to say that not everyone is seeing, hearing and knowing the same thing.

Living downtown has reminded me over and over of the mathematical reality that a very large building can completely disappear behind a shorter, closer building. This phenomena of disappearing and reappearing makes walking and driving around a city so interesting and, let's face it, a bit disorienting. I can be very close to a forty story building but not be able to see it because of my distance and position from a much shorter building. Yeah, every fifth grader knows this. Still, the fact of it is shocking sometimes.

Another interesting perspective is how two people can sit in the same room and experience completely different things. Of course, if they are reading a book or newspaper, there is that. Worse, if they are both reading and writing on the vast plain of cyberspace, they can be in a different world. FFP reads the Drudge Report and sends pictures of Mother Ginger VIPs to people while I write to you, dear readers, and look up the mathematics of perspective and prowl Holidailies for new thoughts. I've been over here trying to fix little problems in my Windows XP under VMware. I'm surfing a different wave.

We think we have a shared experience. But, depending on where we are standing, it can be very different. It's amazing that media assault can inform a large number of us on Madoff, Caylee and Caroline Kennedy, given that we are all looking in different directions with different obstacles between us and the tall buildings (or the big stories). It's also fairly amazing that so many people, after two thousand years, think they see a 'child shivering in the cold.' Who's to say they are wrong? And it is a nice song.

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