Under the Face

We are not far away; but we are never as close as we seem. The trick that we have fallen for is believing in faces. Dad's face is where Dad is, since that is where he speaks to us from; a lover is remembered by the face toward which we have sent our love; and the anger of the boss is filed as the picture of his angry face, cross-referenced to the terror stomach occasioned by his rebuke.

This is reminiscent of the Oklahoma song about Kansas City: 'Then Ah put mah ear to a Bell Telly-fone, an' a strange lady started in tuh talk!' . You can imagine the misconception of some aborigine transported to New York, getting the notion that whenever he talked to someone on the phone that the instrument he used was tthe person he was conversing with. He would be greatly surprised if someone to whom he had spoken using a standard black pay-phone was later to call him in his hotel room where he had a red Princess-style phone. He might conceive that the person had completely changed his appearance!

Thus with faces, or with bodies.

But this goes even further.

Suppose that our aborigine was a witch doctor and wanted to analyze how this new species of being worked. He could hook up an oscilloscope to the workings of the telephone and find out which parts of it seemed to be associated with which 'kinds of communication' and use a differential frequency analyzer to diagnose the wavelengths that this collection of wires seemed to transmit, for example, when certain thoughts were being voiced. He would probably run into a mathematical problem: how can so many thoughts and images be stored in so few wires?

He would have five doctorate programs worth of work just trying to track the presumed correlation between magnetic field fluctuation and thought as manifested by the 'organism' that was speaking to him. It would never occur to him, until he had developed a certain technical sophistication, to trace the communication lines back to a remote source point that was entirely different than the instrument he was involved with studying. In fact, until he learned how to recognize the wires, he wouldn't see any connections from the instrument to anywhere else past the wall! This breakthrough would be even harder to make if he was using a portable phone, whose impulses obviously have to come from inside it since it has no connection with any wires.

A similar ignoral obtains in psychiatry and much of psychology today.

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