Ways of Seeing
No generic criticism in this blog, just a comparison on ways of seeing the world. Neither of the three ways of seeing the world should replace the others although perhaps some are a bit more noble than the others. Looking at an elephant from the front with a telescope at 100 yards may be better than seeing the same elephant while on his back with a magnifying glass. But the telescope won't give you the details that the close-up look will give you and the magnifying glass dude won't realize that he's on the back of an elephant until its too late. Of course these 3 ways of seeing this metaphorical elephant are not the only ways to see either. I will just limit myself to three in this blog.
The problem that I often encounter is that the telescope guy thinks he is superior to the magnifying glass dude and vice versa and they don't bother sharing what they have discovered to each other. Secondly, sometimes they attempt to impose their way of doing things to the rest of us as if their way of seeing is the only true way of seeing. There really is only one way of seeing something, but the magnifying glass alone won't cut it, neither will the telescope alone. It has to be these ways combined and a bit of judgment to determine the true object of one's study.
The telescope guy may be convinced that he is looking at a horse while the magnifying glass dude is convinced that he is on top of a tiger. Combine both pieces of information and a bit of judgment and you see what it truly is: a zebra. Unfortunately we don't really do any of this because our capitalist mindset encourages us to specialize into distinct areas of knowledge. Specialization does have its benefits but as in the above example, having some generalists who see the whole picture can also have its benefits. I just find it sad that we go to the extreme of what capitalism teaches when it is self-evident that capitalism at an extreme is quite flawed at best and just plainly wrong at worst.
I now want to show hypothetical examples of how the disciplines of art, humanities and business present a certain set of information onto a public. It is encouraging when each distinct view has equal access to the public eye even if the generalist view is not presented; but unfortunately, some distinct views get more airtime than others. The topic is how to be more understanding of blind people and to allow better services for them as part of government or charitable expenses. How does the film arts scholar present the info, how does the communications scholar present the info and lastly, how does the marketing scholar present the info.
"Its all about art baby!", this is the mantra of the arts guy. So we want to have people understand about blind people and what they go through? No problem, we will make a five minute film in blackness with the sounds of walking all over the place, but with no visuals, just a black screen! The audience will be disoriented as they hear all sorts of sounds of traffic and walking and see a completely black screen during the entire 5 minutes! Art!!! yeah!
"What is the message?", this is the question that the humanities guy asks himself. Ok so we want to have an individual walking with his cane on the street as cars pass by and have someone come up to him speaking about directions of how to get to a place using visual cues. We then switch to a point of view shot where the audience is seeing the person speaking and pointing to different locations but we hear no sounds, then we switch to a black screen and hearing the person explaining about visual cues and saying things like: "just go down there where I am pointing and...." then we switch back to a 3rd person viewpoint and have a written statement explaining that the blind person is missing one of his senses and could not even be reading this text and that we should realize this instead of continuing in our usual ways of doing things. That would convey the message we want to give.
"We all know that sex sells.", this is the down-to-earth statement for the business guy. Alright, some guy with a cane is walking down the street and is tripped by some handsome looking guy. A sexy looking lady comes out and yells at the handsome guy for being a child and the sexy looking lady dressed in revealing clothing bends down to help the blind guy up and says that he can see her heart so he is better than the handsome guy. 30 seconds and we saved money because we shot on video instead of expensive film for 5 minutes. Make sure that we use the remaining money in our budget to saturate the television channels with our commercial.
Which of the above three is the best way to transmit the info? Neither is better than the other, we need all three. If one of the above methods replaces any of the other two or both, then we are in danger of seeing life in only one way and that won't help us get to the truth of anything. Once truth is in danger, lies will be easier to manipulate our democratic population.
For democratic society to be preserved, we need to guarantee that market forces won't dictate that the easy message will have precedence over the sophisticated message. We need to make sure that the specialist is not the only one to speak nor is one specialist favored over any other. We need to encourage generalists, those who have an over-arching view of things.