not knowing what we are looking for

Humans see and hear what we expect to see and hear. Philosopher Alva Noë writes it like this:

if I mention my hat, and then my scarf and then go on to mention my dloves, you will very certainly hear what context dictates I am likely to have said — which is not dloves (not only is that not a word in English, but the dl sound doesn’t even exist in English) but, of course, gloves.

hearing, perceiving, learning, is always a matter of using what you know to make sense of what is on offer.[1]

In research, learning and creative processes this is a curious situation. How are we to notice difference and newness in circumstances when we don’t know what we are looking for?

My experience in dance and dance research is that the problem is more about not even recognising that, as a consequence of being human, we are engaged in a kind of dilution of experience and attention.

The challenge then becomes to build perceptual tools and systems of communication with others (and with ourselves) that help reveal the things we want to see and hear, and that we imagine we have seen and heard.

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