Have you ever tried to show someone how to play a video game you especially like and when asked how you do certain things in the game, you can’t answer at first? Did you have to actually do it and look down at the controller to see what you’re doing in order to answer? How about stumbling to explain how to cook the dish you most often cook? When asked for directions, are you incapable of giving street names or to draw a map? Well there’s a great deal of things which just become automatic for us, sometimes to such a degree we become oblivious to either how we do it or even that we are doing anything. For instance, how much attention do you give to the process of breathing?
I’ve recently begun teaching at a university, and I’ve been given students who mostly have no experience with the subject matter. As a professional in the field of 3D modeling and animation, there’s a great deal of what I do that’s become automatic for me, things which I give little to no thought to anymore. There’s also a great deal more which I just assume is self evident, or perhaps examples of some Jungian collective unconscious which require no explanation. Faced with having to instruct raw students in the basics of my field, I’m quickly learning how untrue all of that is.
If you ever do stop to think about the process of your breathing, it seems strange. Also, when you become conscious of it and try to take control of it, it may become labored or simply off in some way until eventually something steals your attention to the point where you forget about it again and it returns to auto-pilot. I find that there’s a great deal of things we do in a given day, and a lot of it being done simultaneously. The only way that’s possible is for much of it to be handled by some sort of mental auto-pilot. It’s a tremendous capability of our brains to do this, allowing for an increased potential for our activity, but sometimes that capability can be detrimental.
I find myself struggling a great deal having to teach raw students. I think I’d probably fair much better with intermediate to advanced ones because I’m much more aware of the things involved in fine tuning work then on the mundane, rudimentary things involved in its creation. It’s almost like having to relearn how to breath. I think that for most of us, there’s a great deal of what we do which we’ve simply forgotten precisely how we do it or in some cases, are completely oblivious to doing it like breathing. It’s here where ideas such as intuition, gut feelings, psychic abilities and the like come from. Furthermore, I think this is also where the idea of dualism comes from.
The lack of full self awareness leads to false ideas, just as any lack of evidence can lead to false conclusions. I feel that the answers for such things as intuition lie under the hood of our brains where our multi-limbed auto-pilot is hard at work piloting countless, simultaneous activities which we’ve become oblivious to. In our oblivion, when the results come to us, they seem as if they’ve arrived magically, through special psychic abilities or perhaps supernatural entities zapping answers to our brains, perhaps in response to a prayer said to them.
It’s certainly not a bad thing that our brains are the way they are, allowing for us to multitask, but unfortunately that boon has potential for busts, like false beliefs about the supernatural or even in my case, trying to teach beginning students. This is perhaps yet another example of the wisdom of the inscription that was at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and echoed often in Greek tragedies and philosophy, which is know thyself.