Sunday, February 05, 2006

Reality and realities

Communication is an interesting thing to study. Each person projects his own experience of the world into the words and gestures he uses. Unfortunately, this is quite often lost on the conversation partner, who instead projects his own experience of the world on the words and gestures he perceives. In a manner of speaking, each one of us lives in a unique reality, constructed by the physical reality present around us and the individual experience of that reality.

The existence of this 'individual' reality raises questions about the validity of each such reality. In a manner of speaking, each reality is indeed valid: each person has direct knowledge of 'his' reality only. However, because each such reality depends on personal experience, this reality is shaped by the prism of our fallen nature, which deforms true reality (godly, divine reality) into each personal reality. Since the personal reality is not absolute, it could easily be given another name (e.g., perception, understanding). However, this personal reality is often the only thing that a person can reference - for the person, it is reality. Therefore, I think the term 'personal reality' best describes the concept.

God sees into each of our hearts and knows our deepest secrets. We, on the other hand, can easily mis-attribute intentions to the people around us, because of our flawed perception of the world. In a similar vein we can misunderstand situations, words, events...

From the perspective of Orthodox theology, the concept of theosis relates directly to this differentiation between God's reality and our individual realities. As we draw closer to God, our viewpoint draw closer to His viewpoint; our personal reality becomes closer to the true reality. This brings me to what I believe to be the essence of communication.

On one hand there is the understanding that our own individual understandings of the world are flawed to a smaller or greater extent. This requires of us the humility and courage to be open to see our flaws and to change our understanding whenever we find such a flaw. On the other hand, this change can only take place by the grace of God; it needs a direct relationship with Him, in prayer and sacrament. It seems to me that this is the only way to correct our individual perspectives of life. At the same time, this also allows us to see (and understand) the realities that other people hold and interact with them, perhaps aiding them to draw closer to the true reality.

P.S. Speaking of different realities, here's mine (since several people have read too much into my previous post judging by e-mail and phone calls received - btw. Thank you all for the love and care you've shown): I had a long week and I got a little frustrated with how little I got done last week. In that context the frustration spilled over to the fact that we have long term loans to pay. I am not worried about how we're going to pay those loans. Magda has a good job and God's been gracious enough to provide more than we need. As I said in the post - the worries are unfounded.


Anonymous T of S said...

1. Long, long time ago, the unforgettable Nichita was quarrelling with the phantom of Stendhal. Stendhal, the theorist of realism, said that literature should be something like a mirror moved over and around the reality – that old utopian dream of the objectivity. And Nichita exploded in candor, horror and disbelief: “What mirror? Which mirror? And – for the God’s name – which reality?”

The two friends, Stendhal and Nichita were separated in time by some more than one hundred years. That is about all the horrible, derisory history of the so much praised modernity. That is – the history of the Second Fall of Man: the fall from Christianity. The difference is clear.

2. Not too long ago, Somebody asked Somebody Else: “What do you really mean by that fuzzy ward: reality?” And Somebody Else answered, correctly: “Oh, a fiction, of course!” It seems to me that Mr. Somebody Else only now fully understood what he said then.

3. I long hesitated to comment on this post. But from inside of my own “reality” this looks like the most important subject you have ever raised on this blogspot and, hence, it doesn’t deserve to be overlooked. So, finally, I failed to keep myself aloof. Esli mojeshi, prosti. I mean – forgive me, if you can.

6:38 PM  

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