Monday, October 30, 2006

Vanishing Point

I recently had a genius idea for a post.

I was at the gym on the elliptical, simultaneously gazing at (and thru) my image in the semi-reflective window when I realized I had a tree for a nose.

Yes, that's right.

A tree for a nose.

Allow me to explain:

When dusk hits and the light outside begins to fade, you see more and more of yourself in an otherwise transparent window. But you can still see the outside world — as I did — and what you see depends entirely on your point of focus.

So you see yourself for a second. And then, instead of seeing your reflection, you notice the world outside.

But this transition, contrary to popular belief, is not altogether instantaneous. Rather — for me at least — there was a central point of transition where my field of vision would confuse the outside world with my reflection.

For example: when focusing on myself, I noticed my nose was unusually large... and yellow. I focused on my nose to try and determine the cause... only to lose focus on myself, and instead see a row of trees just above the horizon.

Where I imagined my nose to be was one tree with a few remaining yellow leaves (most other trees were bare).

But about this time — when I realized that tree was acting as my nose in this reflection — I was back to seeing myself again.

(I have to imagine I looked rather cross-eye during much of this).

This exchange of focal points continued until a train went by and swallowed my mouth whole. And by that I mean: as it went past, its image through the window was transposed over the reflection of my mouth... such that steel replaced my lips, and I waxed poetic with notions of Shakespeare's Lavinia trying to speak.

This all struck me as being rather profound at the time. So profound, in fact, that I endeavored to write my observations "first thing" after returning home. But instead I showered... ate... and then went to sleep. And then Friday passed. Then Saturday, and Sunday. And I kept thinking to myself "I really need to sit down and write about that."

And then finally, today, I turned to my computer with that very intention — only to since find myself repulsed by the very idea. Whatever poetic notions I had last Thursday have since faded, only to be replaced by inner-chidings.

I mean... what was I thinking?

However ridiculous, and however pathetic, the truth is... I do wish I could go back there again.


Anonymous said...

I don't get the innner chidings. Maybe about waiting but not about the subject matter. I understand the affect (effect?) you are talking about. I think it is rather cool.

michele said...

Thanks for posting this! I don't know how many times I've had similar gym experiences (especially at NEU with all those huge glass windows!) and never blogged it. I'd be absolutely fascinated by the reflection/refraction question while actually on the treadmill, but forget all about it once I was off. So I for one am glad you blogged it and I would suggest that it is still more profound than worthy of inner chidings.

I really think there's a difference that occurs in our brains when we're exercising - a kind of turning off of the censor that tells us these things are stupid. It's a similar effect to hypnagogia (the mental state at the cusp of falling asleep) or the state that is sometimes experienced under the influence of various substances... not that I'd know anything about that!

There's a story that Edison used his hypnagogic states to imagine many of the things he invented. So if you're inducing a similar state at the gym, you're in good company!

Saurabh said...

Very interesting and beautiful writing! There is a web site where they have some interesting experiments. I recommend you try them.