Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Country of the Blind

In an earlier post I spoke of perception. Perception involves taking  sensory information and processing it in the brain. The end result are the thoughts and images which we experience every day.

I just finished a short story by H.G. Wells, The Country of the Blind. In this story a mountain climber is separated from his climbing party and falls- not to his death or serious injury, but instead into an isolated valley far from known civilization. The main character is a man by the name of Nuñez. Nuñez finds himself among a village of people who are entirely blind. (The link below will take you to the story if you would  like to read it on line)

This story is a study of perception. In this story Nuñez the protagonist is a mountain climber who is climbing somewhere in the Andes in South America. He falls an extremely long way and finds himself in a very isolated region previously unknown. The place he finds himself in is isolated from the outside world and for the most part inaccessible from the outside world. He discovers a village of people there who are all blind. As it happens, many generations back the people became isolated due to an earthquake which caused a massive landslide. Sometime after that a disease causes a number of the people to lose their sight and after successive generations they have become a village of blind people. The only thing is the people do not know they are blind. The valley they live in is very accommodating and they adapted to life without sight. Nuñez comes to live with them and he thinks himself superior to the people because he can see. As the story progresses he sees that he is mistaken. He is unable to explain to the inhabitants the concept of sight. The more he tries to explain “seeing” or “sight” the more the inhabitants are convinced he is crazy.

There is a lesson in there somewhere… We perceive reality by way of our senses, but there is more out there than can be perceived with our senses. Sometimes people believe in that which can’t be seen, heard or felt. Sometimes- often times- they really are nuts. I have known one such person. But other times we have a sense of something that is out there that we can’t see, hear, touch or taste. Perhaps we are crazy, but maybe not. Faith is not  extrasensory perception but it does acknowledge the existence of something (or someone) beyond our senses.