Recently, I was asked a question that comes up occasionally: “If you were ever offered an opportunity to see, would you take it?”. In this case, the implication of the question, which was asked by a sighted person with little familiarity with blindness, was clearly: “Why wouldn’t you take it? Which sort of irrational agent would not take it?”
First, I should say that given my particular circumstances with no optic nerve and two prosthetic eyes, such a possibility may not be likely to be available in the near future, so I might never have to face this dilemma, but let’s just, for the duration of this post, make the rules of our own thought experiment. This post is not about guesses on what such a potential technology would look like, since I don’t think myself fully qualified to have an educated guess on this. It’s about the cognitive dissonance that I have when asked if I would take the opportunity to get vision, given that near future technology would enable (or at least simulate) sight.
I’m excited about technological developments and do not think the idea of transhumanism, the enhancement of human capabilities through artificial means, neither crazy nor far fetched. If I was offered to upload myself into an artificial structure that enabled me to create multiple simulations of my brain with different configurations, or otherwise alter my human capacity with technology, I’d probably be among the most eager to jump on the band wagon (I usually don’t even jump on that many band wagons).
However, when asked whether I wanted to have vision, given such an opportunity, again, under the assumptions that (1) it was possible, and (2) the methods had been carefully tested for any associated risks or damages, I usually default to the argument that I’ve always been blind. However, I have also always been a human without any technological enhancements added to me. What to do.
I could make many additional arguments why I wouldn’t want to gain vision, among which would be the prospect of starting as a novice, the idea that my brain still would not interpret the signals appropriately, and that, even if the method was tested on other blind people, a potential risk can’t be ruled out, since circumstances of blindness differ. However, I think my reasoning about blindness has more to do with the emotional attachment to blindness, in the sense that by getting sight, I’m endorsing the idea that this is everything a blind person could wish for, and that it’s an end to the terribly tragic life that blind people would otherwise have, which would be reinforcing the narrative that most sighted people unfamiliar with blindness would subscribe to. I might not have sight, but I’m capable of solving my problems and am doing what I’m interested in, and I’m doing it my way.
As a sidenote, if I would ever want to become sighted, it would be for the share curiosity and with the promise that there’d be a switch-off button in order to escape the potential madness that could be elicited in my brain. If I was promised a switch-off button and thereby given both opportunities, even if I can’t be sure how sight would change my perception, I don’t really see a reason not to do it.
I’m very critical of people’s tendencies to base a belief or an opinion on narratives, namely related to the Trump situation as well as cultural and religious narratives, and completely ignore the internal inconsistencies and lack of critical analysis that they potentially bring. I guess I’m pretty caught up in a narrative myself; more specifically the “don’t tell me what to do” narrative. In other words, I guess you just exposed my humanity. I’m likely to remain in this position.
Such a long time not writing, and now I’m suddenly emerging into the universe of Visionarium, the place where you really don’t want to be when the world turns into the entropic ruin of chaos, a fundamental breakdown into its component parts, particles, matter and not matter all compiled into a huge inferno. It explodes, and in a way, it’s unbelievable. Almost momentarily mystical, but I better keep from writing about mystical experiences, especially since I’ve been in continuous, only partially interrupted discussions with another human being whose name I don’t remember, about recognizing the subjective experience of mysticism without making scientific claims, which seems to be a major problem for mystics. In fact, the more they get into the profession, the more standardized things have a tendency to become, and suddenly you hear things like ‘energy fields’ and ‘quantum leaps’ in the context of consciousness. That makes me have my own fundamental breakdown, everything gets very black for some reason, and I have tunnel vision and am only capable of seeing some white light in the edge of my vision field, and then suddenly a bunch of strange monkey-like elphs doing a strange, by no meens of systematic patterns consisting dance around me, and throwing books at me with titles like: “The art of mystifying mysticism”, “The science of your very own extremely powerful negative vibrations”, and “What do you have left when you know the answer to every fucking thing you ask because you don’t want to accept the limits of your perception?”. That’s how my entropic ruin looks. The point where things culminate in chaos, where you don’t know your way around the world, because you’re lost in analysis paralysis, then your brain takes in obscure information, and out comes introspection gone terribly, terribly wrong. And yet, I lay my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe, not by acting defiantly as Albert Camus suggests, but by laughing with all the hysteria I can. What else can you do? In 7 billion more years, maybe some descendants of mine exist in a computer simulated world, being very polite and doing extreme face threatening speech acts, on record without redressive action, just because they don’t have a physical presence. They only have whatever else there’s left when you subtract material presence, which is something that some people call consciousness. I’ll prefer to call it material presence 101 in lack of better terminology. And for all the psychiatrists who, in case they read this, wonder what the hell is wrong with me, don’t bother. Nothing is wrong unless you think you know what’s right, so as long as you don’t confine yourself to see a spectral dichotomy, well, then it’s easy. What I suspect might be wrong with me is that I’m too indifferent to care, and at the same time I actually have this feeling that I want to care, at least about conventional implicatures and why they’re so awesome. It isn’t depression, it isn’t defiance, it’s just … well, it’s it. It’s whatever I want it to be, apparently. Most of all, it’s lack of terms for whatever it is that I can call whatever I want at whatever time I want it to be called anything at all, that is, if I ever want to call it whatever I want it to be called at any time I want it to be called anything at all, if I ever want it to be called something. Hey, let’s make a word for it so it becomes easier to conceptualize. Let’s call it mhitrhixoid, and yes, I put the H there on purpose. But seriously, I sware to the great leader of North Korea that I’m not in danger, unless someone starts giving this entry an allegorical analysis. Then I can’t imagine the consequences, so please spare me. I might just insert a passage about a rhino, because RHINO symbolizes the state you’re in when you can’t get the kind of tomatos you wanted in the supermarket, and that’s why the majority of people’s lives go wrong. Well, or someone just happens to mention rhinos because that particular someone doesn’t care to be cooperative. Have fun enjoying indifference, and remember to laugh a little now and then. In all seriousness, I certainly don’t see any other reasonable points to life than that.