so I promised I’d write about this a while ago and now I am. Welcome to BSCBT, it’s a safe space for all of us. If you would like to subscribe, I’d like you more and give you more things. Anyway, on with the show.
Cognition is a weird thing. The human memory is insanely fallible, as many unfortunate court cases and subsequent DNA tests have proven as well as a WILD episode of diffr’nt strokes in which a dude comes in (side note, I’ve spent an hour trying to google this clip, fuck it, you’ll get the idea) and snatches a purse from a lady giving a presentation to Arnold’s class, mid presentation, and then everyone who witnessed it, Arnold’s class mostly, discusses what he was wearing, only to find out they were all absolutely wrong when he walks back in and they all realize he was an actor proving a point about the fallibility of human memory.
the thing that was cool about this particular scene, and I consider this to be one of the high art things that has influenced my thought process (and I mean this very sincerely), is that WE, the viewer, equally didn't know what the guy was wearing. The fallibility of human memory was on display for all of us to see right in our own heads. It was as much of a masterpiece as a sitcom scene can be.
But! The thing is, beyond noticing what he was wearing (nobody did) the fact that HAVING to notice what he was wearing wasn’t a thing that was seeded in our heads bc we were just watching a show, we were just living life, whatever you want to say…and so we didn’t. Because we as humans don’t know anything we aren’t told in advance to know or look out for.
this is not entirely true for lots of people, however I am an example of this actually REALLY being entirely true. I’m as stupid as a fucking pigeon until you explain to me what I need to know and then I can catch on, and for the most part I catch on quickly, but I have NO “oh, I see what needs to be done here” skills. It’s shameful, really.
But I doubt I’m alone. And this unsupported anecdote should absolutely prove that to be true: (ed note: I am well aware that we have discussed this anecdote before in this space and it was requested that we revisit it, I’m not being lazy. I’m finally getting to it. Okay, let’s carry on)
Back in the day, there was apparently no word for blue. This seems weird if you put a tiny bit of forensic scrutiny to this because the two biggest things, namely the sky and the ocean….uh, blue. Seems like kind of a big one to miss. I mean, the color wheel contains 3 primary colors. there’s red: check. Yellow: got it. and then hmmmmm…if only there was an answer to what the third one was. I guess I’ll go out and stare at the ocean for a while or look to the skies for guidance to figure out what it might be. Pull it together, ancient brain trusts. Sheesh.
BUT! In the Odyssey they refer to the color of the water as “the dark wine color of the sea” and I suppose that the sky is just so fucking everywhere that maybe you just don’t notice it, and this is my point.
Besides the big two up there, almost nothing in nature is blue. Blueberries are purple and so on and so forth. So there’s really no reason that it should have a name, right? and therefore, if there’s no word for it, the concept of it doesn’t exist in your brain. I think (WILD SPECULATION ALERT) that people didn’t notice the color of the sky because it couldn’t be compartmentalized. George Orwell talks about this a lot in 1984 but that’s a conversation for another time.
I’ve said this before in this very forum but I’ll reiterate: think of a new color. one we don’t know. go ahead. Think of it now.
Of course you don’t. Shit’s impossible. In fact, even if it’s the color of your entire horizon and heaven, if there’s no word for it, you don’t see it. Some day (this would be cool) maybe we’ll discover a color that’s been here all along and we’ll all be like “HOLY FUCKING SHIT! ALL OF THIS SHIT IS GREANCH!” and it will be a wild scene full of the destruction of whatever you think your rational cognition and retention can do.
that sounds silly, but that literally is what happened in literate society (remember, books had been written, even epic tomes) before blue…fucking BLUE was discovered. It must have been mind melting to be like “oh shit, the ENTIRE SKY is a color!”
Consider that! There was no word for the color of the sky so no one thought it was a color. The person who came up with the word ‘blue’ (defaulting to English here…calm down) probably wasn’t a genius or anything but was just someone who was very perceptive and thought about the world in a way that was and remains rare. It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to love. It’s easy to take stock of what’s there. what’s damn near impossible is to look at something that’s never been discussed before and give it a name and a place in the world of general human thought. That’s a CRAZY thing to do. So maybe homeboy/homegirl was crazy. It makes sense. If you came up to me hollering about a new color I would immediately lock the doors and roll up the windows.
(aside: this is kind of what people say about Einstein and his theory of special relativity. When it comes to almost all scientific discoveries, the general consensus is “yeah, newton discovered that but someone else would have eventually discovered gravity, man” or “yeah, Tesla did this but while his technique was above reproach and very sophisticated, there’s no denying the parallel pathing that was going on at the time. We would have eventually reached what he was doing.”
Not so with Einstein’s Special relativity theory. Scientists, in fact even his foes (foes?? I guess my brain is shitting out on me…what do you call colleagues that you’re competitive with…anyway, those dudes [all dudes at that time]) had to admit that no, if Al hadn’t somehow nailed E=MC2 we maybe still wouldn’t know it. Astrophysicists will even to this day admit that it took a mental leap that not a lot of people are capable of making to get there and that indeed, there may be no E=MC2 [and you wouldn’t have that poster in your dorm room] even to this day if it weren’t for the singular work of Einstein and his weird ass brain. that’s also the same for the person that discovered that the sky was blue. Anyway, end aside…)
Regardless, you get what I’m saying. Once this person (let’s call her Old Ass Gary) gave blue a name, we, as a species were able to discern things that were clearly blue (the sky, the sea), things that resembled blue (blueberries, uh…what’s that one spice? Blue Basil? I’m not a total dork so I don’t know but you get the idea). It’s amazing what can happen if you give something a name. The mind is remarkably stupid AND remarkably smart at the same time. Suddenly blue was everywhere. You had a blue house with a blue window. Blue was the color of all that you wear and so forth.
Which brings me to the game Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
I don’t know how much any of you follow skateboarding but I came up in the golden age of Powell Peralta, H Street, Alva, World Industries, etc. This may not mean much to a lot of you but bear with me.
This was the era where skateboarding went from a bunch of what amounted to essentially figure skaters twirling around to punks doing things like sliding down handrails and flipping their boards off incredibly high things and clearing crazy gaps and so on and so forth (there was also a very punk and criminal element to it that I always loved but that’s not relevant here).
One of my favorite videos was Ban This by Powell, and it was almost all because of a segment with young kid who wasn’t even pro named Frankie Hill. Here is his segment (it’s under 2 minutes). It still is pretty fucking cool. In fact, it holds up vastly better than I thought it was going to when I looked it up. But the fact remains, skateboarding has CHANGED since then.
Here’s more what it looks like now. Depending on how much you’ve ever touched a skateboard that either probably looks similar or WILDLY different. The truth is the second thing. Skateboarding has become insane. It evolved so fast from board dancing into this aggressive “we can do anything” thing by the time Frankie hill did that segment in ban this. But since then, um…there’s no reality anymore. Observe these guys, none of them nearly as famous as Frankie Hill was (and to reiterate, Frankie was an amateur), just being very very next level with the whole thing. How is it possible that the sport has progressed like this?
the answer is Tony Hawk Pro Skater. That game showed people that they could combine tricks, that they could be sliding down a rail and flip their board around in the dismount (I am trying to use more universal non skater friendly language, so spare me with the “nice description old man” shit, eh?”). The game allowed a whole generation to visualize things, skateboarding combo wise, that none of their forefathers had ever visualized before. It was like seeing a brand new color, like blue, for the first time. The results are that now people in the real ether skate like video game avatars and it’s insane. It’s mind boggling, even. Sometimes it even makes me angry it’s so wild.
They say that we’re a very adaptable species. Like, if you go blind, you’ll be okay because your body will immediately pick up the slack with the help of your other senses. If you lose the use of your body due to a spinal injury, you’ll adjust and your soul will maintain, even as you get used to a new life that’s very very different.
Fuck, I saw a dude on TV when I was a kid who was armless and playing guitar with his toes. And he was AMAZING. But more amazing than that, his shirt was tucked in. Anyway….
My point is perception is really the only currency we deal in here as sentient hominid apes and it’s wildly subjective. Consider that Van Gogh was considered to be shitty in his time. Consider that we think he’s good now! Both are equally valid points of view. Who fucking knows.
All I know is that I’m going to get an objectively bad cheeseburger right now. Hope you all are great. Please subscribe if you like what you read and please leave a comment either way. xoxo
Speaking of crazy, novel skateboarding shit, check out Matt Tomasello, if you haven't already https://youtu.be/tnFPQ57l0Dg
“But more amazing than that, his shirt was tucked in.” HA! Good god that’s funny.
I read the Monet wished nobody told him what colors were...these leaves are green, the sky is blue, etc. because that jacks up your perception of seeing things for what they really are without preconceptions. Anyways, I always liked that - thanks Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.
Checkout the R. Mullen (skating GOD) TedTalks - those are great...skateboarding innovation analyses are spot on plus he’s just one rad dude.