Somethings. Not others. Though I’m not sure how the science actually pans out.
So I’m going to ignore it.
I think it’s impossible to actually see something in detail without being part of it, to some extent. Once you get close enough, things get out of shape. If you can see the detail, you’re probably making a difference. So you can observe without change, but you’re also ignoring the detail.
To get back to the science I was going to ignore. It’s the cat in the box. When you can’t observe, you don’t affect. As soon as you get to the details, you kill the cat. (It’s probably the oldest joke in the physics book, but I guess in that situation curiosity really did kill the cat).
Then there’s embedded journalism, where someone follows a group of controversial types to get the real scoop on what goes on. That clearly doesn’t work. People are the worst for behaving differently when observed, or when they think they might be observed.
It’s just our innate sociability. We’re aware of what others think of us. At it’s best it comes out as empathy and connection, but it’s that same drive that is always there telling us to worry about our hair or face or fat or whatever. We don’t want other people to see us in the ways we don’t want to be seen. So when you observe me, you change me, back to the performer.
Life is very performance, I think. At least social life, and possibly more than that. The dress rehearsals are still full of imagined audiences. Audiences that aren’t even observing yet. Changing us.
I think it’s okay though. I think it’s the way we are, and it can be used to be more whole. Be aware, and get into your body. Feel who you might be and let that be what moves you forward.
You may be a complex waveform that doesn’t actually assume a solid state until someone percieves you and collapses you into something actually real, but that’s okay, that doesn’t actually give them control. Your life isn’t dictated by the random decay of an unstable element. And if it is, that element is you, so it’s okay.
I’m really not entirely sure what I’m trying to get across here. I’ve recently been arguing in favour of the notion of no internal self, just a muddle of layers and meanings and refractions and reflections that create this external simulacrum of self.
This sounds bad, but it isn’t. I think it frees us to be whoever and whatever we want. We just have to come at ourselves like texts to be interpreted. Realise that we will be reinterpreted by others, and find that confusion and multiplicity part of what makes us sexy.
Observe my sexy, please. It is multifaceted and indefinable. This is me. You are watching me. You make me the way you see. But I remain the way I am.
Illustration by Adam.