Aha Moment

The retina sees green and yellow patches,
but eyes defeat the camouflage;
a lion in the foliage
is recognized, as visual cortex matches
the picture’s pattern with a predator,
and tells the limbic system we,
have got to save our lives and flee,
our brain the Aha moment editor.

What eyes find most confusing brains can read.
They recognize the bottom line,
and see intelligent design,
decoding cryptic signals that mislead
by recognizing glimpses of gestalt,
enabling us to see beyond
all apparitions and respond.
with aha to the random and occult.

V. S. Ramachandran was the BBC’s Reith lecturer in 2003 and describes what he calls an AHA moment
(http: //www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2003/lectures.shtml) :

Vision evolved mainly to discover objects and to defeat camouflage. You don't realize this when you look around you and you see clearly defined objects. But imagine your primate ancestors scurrying up in the treetops trying to detect a lion seen behind fluttering green foliage. What you get inside the eyeball on the retina is just a bunch of yellow lion fragments obscured by all the leaves. But the brain says - so to speak - 'What's the likelihood that all these different yellow fragments are exactly the same yellow simply by chance? Zero. They must all belong to one object, so let me link them together, glue them together. Oh my God, it's a lion - let me out of here! ' And as soon as you glue them together, a signal gets sent to the limbic system saying: 'AHA, there's something object-like, pay attention here'. So there's an arousal, and an attention which then titillates the limbic system, and you pay attention and you dodge the lion.

And such 'AHAs' are created, I maintain, at every stage in the visual hierarchy as partial object-like entities are discovered that draw your interest and attention. What the artist tries to do is to generate as many of these 'AHA' signals in as many visual areas as possible by more optimally exciting these areas with his paintings or sculptures than you could achieve with natural visual scenes or realistic images. Not a bad definition of art if you think about it.


by gershon hepner

Comments (2)

Yes this is a great definiton of art. Impressive to hear since I have been pursuing exactly this sort of question and concluded that poems are like show and tell of whatever a poet has collected to show together. Your poem greatly ellucidates this idea. Thank you.
An enjoyable write as usual!