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August 20, 2009


Brian Schottlaender

Hi Steve--

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard. Especially Chapter 8, "Intricacy." Changed my whole way of seeing, and thinking about how and what I see.

Be well, friend,

--Brian S.

Linda Dolack


this was written about a piece of my artwork and about 'seeing' in a similar way to your story...anyway, it reminded me of your little entry. i enjoy the e-newsletter....keep them coming! linda dolack

John G. Lynch

I decry, all too often, the low levels of literacy and historical knowledge among young people (O tempora, O mores). But, there is the phenomenon of technical literacy and the sopping up of knowledge that I noted in my sons. Perhaps we are too hasty and belittle those who do not enjoy the tactility of reading. What I have found lacking is any taxonomy or prioritization in that ability to sop up...an osmotic approach to knowledge and learning. If many of these young people have a series of models in which to interpret what they see, I have not been able to detect it. That may be more my problem than theirs.

Margaret N. Harker

My favorite for all this is best said by Edna St. Vincent Millay:" The world stands out on either side no wider than the heart is wide. Above the earth is stretched the
sky, no higher than the soul is high."
I have kept this in my wallet and try to remember this when things are not seen. At 66 yrs old, there have been many tough times,and many joyful times. Recently I took up kayaking and each time out has proved the above.

Angel from Bulgaria

Good one, Steve - thanks!
Since we are what we are, e.g. it's in our nature to see what we want to see, it's always valuable to see ourselves through the eyes of someone else. This brings the different perspective, but I think it only works provided both sides have acknowledgement and appreciation for each other.
This approach could work on different levels. For example americans could find it valuable to find out how they are viewed from Europe, Asia, etc. And vice versa...

Sally D

You bring up a most important observation--the human tendency to overlook what we should be able to see clearly! We look at a simple building and know there's an architect but look at the complexity of organic life and think it all evolved by chance. Talk about missing things in plain sight! The book that opened my eyes was the Bible. Now I see everywhere the evidence of the Master Architect, who is the epitome of what is essential!

Joan Rice

Good photographers see all kinds of things that most of us do not - distracting objects, white space, the best composition. It makes the difference between a photograph and a snapshot. (Thanks for your e-mails that are so very interesting and provocative.)

John W Lewis

Thanks, Steve, for sharing these great examples of observation. This reminds me of the classic experiment of counting the bounces of the ball and completely missing ... maybe I shouldn't spoil it for anyone!

Presumably: our attention is caught by the things which have meaning; and meaning is only attached to things which correlate with patterns we have in mind.

The opposite effect is also very strong: the brain dislikes cognitive dissonance and tries to make the "picture" fit something that makes sense, and in many more ways than the visual. Pre-flight inspection of aircraft is a procedure which is known to carry the risk that people see what they expect to see, rather than what is there; this is not meant to unsettle you, but might explain your friend's chuckle.

Book: "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain", by Betty Edwards, is a great book about drawing, creativity and seeing. People who have learnt to draw say that they now "see" differently.

(By the way, I enjoyed your GTD interview. I already had the wooden filing cabinet; does that mean that I should write?!)

Mary Anne Smith

Jeff Sharlett's book The Family is an interesting study that pulls the curtain back on a political/religious phenomena present in the US and abroad for the past 70 years. One of the most striking comments was that this organization hides in plain sight. I live looking for the roses, not the thorns, but maybe I should also be looking for the snakes?


Many, many stories, starting when I was little with the Wizard of Oz.

But I also remember reading the poems of Emily Dickinson. I read them when I was in college and promptly fell in love with her imagery.

Then reading Atlas Shrugged in my 20s and becoming aware of enterprise.

So many, many books.

John C Miller

In my 60's, a product of the 60's I often think of Robert Kennedy's "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream of things that never were and say why not."

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