The intangibility of perception

-By Ishaan Chopra

As you read this, do you hold your phone? Do you touch a pen or a mouse? In any case when you look around you the tangibility of objects becomes evident. It feels real, it feels grounded, all of it does. My objective here is to not quote empiricism but rather explain how malleable everything is, how seemingly fluid.  Most people live with the idea that objects are real because they are objective, I can feel the weight, texture and color of a pen and so can you but when does that pen stop being a pen but rather the idea of a pen? If you give a pen to a child or even a caveman, would they instantly click it and begin writing? Would they shake it and use it for something else other than the purpose intended? Here is where the idea of a pen comes into play, where it stops being an objective thing itself but rather becomes a subjective idea. Give a child a stick and he pretends it’s a sword, give a man one and he burns it for a fire. We humans are above all sensory beings, whether that may be primitive or not, we are, and we need tangible objective things to hold our subjective ideas, containers if you will. The value that things hold are intangible, the watch that your grandfather gave you, it holds meaning to you because of the value  you give the object, that watch is precious to you and to you only, to you it isn’t a mere object and neither is it the universal idea of a watch, it’s a memory of your grandfather. When one realizes this, it seems evident that the world is not made up of objects and containers, that these shouldn’t be our primary focus, for containers are made only to hold. That’s why I never understood when people told me to snap out of my thoughts and come back to reality, because from where I see it my thoughts are reality at its purest, they are reality not yet contained, fluid, malleable and untouchable, to give them form is to make them fragile, you can’t break a belief with a hammer, neither a dream with a gun and in that sense the wall always did seem more fragile than an idea. I do not deny the existence of objective reality, all I hold is what gives life value, what gives anything or anyone value is intangible and in that sense more real, because almost anything of meaning is for all purposes intangible. So if someone tells you to be practical or come back to reality, by all means go read fiction.

The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.

Chuck Palahniuk

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