Sunday, 22 September 2013

A Burly Replay

Yesterday I fulfilled a long suppressed desire and bought a Playstation 3.

I’d had a Playstation and a Playstation 2 but hadn’t yet leapt into the world of 3.

The geeks’ paradise Game, in town, were more than accommodating and I got a refurbed model for £140. Wishing to utilise the Blu-ray capacity (and finally see a BR movie on my HD TV that I’ve owned for a sodding year!) I invested in a copy of “Django Unchained” and after some fiddling with cables got Tarantino’s take on slavery in the wild South in 1853, up on the 42” plasma screen.

Blu-ray movies are amazing. The clarity is implausible, the colours vivid and after a lifetime watching DVDs and VHS the best comparison is that it’s like wanking your entire life and then finally getting laid.


Something I noticed while enjoying the movie was this. My brain kept trying to do something and then reminding me that it wasn’t doing it. Problem was it wasn’t actually telling me what it was trying to do and failing to achieve.

After this happening around 20 times I finally twigged what it was.

My brain was trying to compensate for the lack of clarity in the film (which it didn’t have as it was a high definition movie) and was stuttering due to no longer having to fill in gaps that were no longer there.

To put it another way…the picture was so mind blowingly clear that I didn’t have to “imagine” any of it. I no longer had to sub-consciously assume what something looked like or what was going on in the background.  Usually in a very grainy colour movie (black and white was a different world completely), your brain knows that something is meant to be going on and simply “assume” that it’s there. A blurry darkness behind the good guy who is hiding behind some rocks? No problem! Your brain assumes they’re there and you carry on watching the movie.

Only problem is that now it doesn’t have to as you can see them on a Blu-ray/ Hi Def movie, and you know they are there because the clarity is there to enable that.

The best analogy was that this was Pavlov’s Dog with a remote control and a big telly. The dogs in Pavlov’s experiment would react to a sound that they associated with a certain event and their brains would react accordingly and trigger the reaction. My whole life, my brain has had to “fill in the missing bits” with regard to what I could see on a screen and now it no longer had to. The reaction was firing on all cylinders…BUT finding no information to process. When a woman walked down the street in a ramshackle town, my brain would assume it had to imagine the clarity of the windows behind her and the full details of the guys walking to one side but slightly further back. In standard definition movies, your brain will do that as the medium can’t show THAT much information clearly on a screen. But Blu-ray CAN. So the guns, badges, jackets and parasols were all as clear as each other. It felt like my brain was saying, “Watching a film? No worries mate, I’m here to help. Let me just fine tune your viewing experience by letting you imagine what’s….OH, Shit! You don’t need me now!!! Ok, I’ll go off and do something else for a bit. Bye.”

After thoroughly enjoying the 3 hours of genius mayhem (who woulda thought Leonardo DiCaprio could play a villain so well? Or that we’d end up sympathising and rooting for a couple of horrible, amoral cunts like Django and his doctor friend..who have the same ethics as Clint Eastwood’s William Munny from “Unforgiven”) I then realised that this “filling in the gaps” behaviour has also affected other areas of my life.

My issues growing up have been explored in depth on other entries on this blog. The cause of them is partially known but one thing I didn’t realise is just how much me, and a LOT of other people, do exactly the same thing in our daily lives as we interact with others. Because we don’t KNOW everything, we ASSUME a great deal in order to compensate.

I’ve needed vision correction in my right eye since I was 7 or 8. The spectacles I wore made the whole world look like someone had wiped a damp cloth over a dirty pane of glass that I was looking through. Everything became much SHARPER. When I didn’t wear the glasses I could still see but with less lucidity. It wasn’t a problem though because I would mentally, without really even thinking about it, simply fill in the gaps with what I believed or knew to be there.

Take this a stage further and it is clear that I’ve also been doing this in my interactions with other people…for most of my life.

When you see people on the street, when you pass someone at work or when you talk to or with someone…you don’t KNOW everything. So, you assume.

An example would be from 4 years ago. A woman I’d had sex with while on holiday was staying at the same resort as me and later shacked up with someone else. No big deal. I was jealous but hey! Then one morning she stood directly behind me to show him the love bites on her neck that he’d given her the night before. I was quite hungover (my usual state, not boasting just setting the scene) and I automatically “filled in the gaps” by painting in the following information.

  1. He knows I was there first.
  2. She stood in my blind spot to show him the hickeys so I wouldn’t see what she was up to.
  3. They are both laughing at me behind my back.
  4. It’s a conspiracy.

Had I been able to think of this without my ego flailing around like a dying octopus, I would have seen it in High Def and probably thought. “Hey, people like shagging. I know I do.”

I fell out with her over this “incident” and stopped speaking to him as well. It was  a year later before me and her became pals again and it was mainly due to her reading an entry on this blog and going ballistic. She sent me an emotive and very unhappy email saying how hurtful I was being and that she had feelings too. I accepted this and later deleted everything I’d said (I’d used pseudonyms but they weren’t hard to see through) and we both apologised and moved on.

Thing is…if I’d had a Blu-ray player to view this situation on in the first place…none of that depressing misery would have occurred.

We, as human beings, ASSUME a great deal. We react to what our eyes tell us they are seeing and fill in the gaps with the rest. One line from the TV show “Blackadder the 3rd” has Prince George say to Blackadder, “You look like a man who thought a cat had done its business on his pie, only to discover it was an extra large blackberry.”

I.e. What you thought you saw and what is really there are sometimes two VERY different things.
Only 20% of communication is conveyed through words. The rest is body language, tone and facial expression. We will automatically believe we are watching a “low resolution” version of a film and fill in the gaps with what we think that other person is “really” saying to us. It’s only if we believe our experience is on Blu-ray that we can see things clearly for what they are.

A cartoon that upset me as a child was from Disney “Donald’s Happy Birthday. He was spying on his nephews with a telescope as they went out to buy cigars. He said nothing as they walked back from the shop and waited until they got home. He followed them up to their tree house and made them smoke every single one. Reason? To teach them that smoking was bad. As the last cigar left the box and Huey, Duey and Louie (sp?) were coughing and spluttering out the windows, Donald Duck found a piece of paper at the bottom of the box that said. 

“Happy Birthday Uncle Donald”.

He’d filled in the gaps and came to the wrong conclusion.

Lack of clarity can be frustrating. But it's only when you've seen what High Definition really is that you realise what you've been missing.

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