the brain I saw


Two tales of representation

I have felt my brain my whole life and even though I've been told there are multiple structures in there with lobes and folds, I never think of my brain that way. And then one day I see this picture that someone has told me is my brain. And I look at it and all I can compare it to is other brains I've seen in pictures. I never once look at this picture and think "oh! Ya that's my brain alright!". Never. It is a the view of a machine translated for humans and again translated by science into knowledge about brains. It can't be a personal thing.

I was there when my niece first recognised herself in a mirror, well in her case, the viewfinder of a video camera. I remember seeing the leap in her face, the surprise. I can only imagine it was the surprise of seeing something that before only existed as subjective reflections from others. It completed a picture that before never included a head. Seeing her surprise made me think about the distance between perception and representation a lot.