Friday, November 06, 2020

This Miracle of Creating a World

Karntakuringu Jakurrpa


In their book The World of the Newborn, Daphne and Charles Maurer write:

"His world smells to him much as our world smells to us, but he does not perceive odors (as we do) . . . His world is a melee of pungent aromas -- and pungent sounds, and bitter-smelling sounds, and sweet-smelling sights, and sour-smelling pressures against the skin. If we could visit the newborn's world, we would think ourselves inside a hallucinogenic perfumery."

And it's not just the sense of smell. The human brain does not simply represent the information we receive through our senses, it constructs it. In fact babies are born perceiving the reality as it "really" is, meaning that their brains have not yet learned to assemble the photons and waves and particles that make up the universe into anything that we adults would recognize. As psychologist and researcher Mike Gazzaniga puts it: "This is what our brain does all day long. It takes input from various areas of our brain and from the environment and synthesizes it into a story that makes sense."

We are born not being able to "make sense" of anything, but the process of construction, of storytelling, is already under way. And remarkably, in a matter of days, we begin to sort out our senses, to tell ourselves "stories" about what we perceive, and to make the world. There is much in nature to awe us, but few things are more impressive than this. Babies need no instructions from us. All we need do is what comes naturally, which is to hold them, feed them, be with them, and love them as they perform this miracle of creating a world.

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