The unreliability of human senses is something which interests me. Luc Ferry’s A Brief History of Thought had once suggested that a man should choose philosophy over religion because the former afforded the inquiring spirit the opportunity to understand better the questions of human mortality, and overcome our fear of death. What I believe the author failed to understand is that man, in general, is limited. And not merely biologically speaking. Even man’s thoughts – though great and at times even incomprehensible – are intrinsically limited. Despite advances in science and technology, man has only begun to scratch the surface of the universe. If his thoughts, his actions are limited, what more his senses?
I was reminded of human limitedness after seeing Sebastian Bieniek’s photography series called Doublefaced. Using makeup products drawn on a woman’s face, the Berlin-based German artist managed to create this eerie, and at times, plain frightening illusion of “another” face. The series reminded me of how easy it is to create new meaning and thus, fool a person. Below are more photos from the series.
Our world is full of illusions, deceptions, and confusions. Some of them are disguised as questions which supposedly matter. Some are more aggressive forces which uses the compelling spirit of the world to entice.
Human imperfection, mortality, and limitation are always subjects in my thoughts. Ferry was at least spot-on when he said philosophy arises from the problem of death, something we all face. But to rely on ourselves to understand, to overcome, or to convince, is a mistake. Our senses can only make of something familiar. The unfamiliar is something we have to process, understand, label, categorize, and ascertain using our own limited human measurements.