Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Chewing on my eye movements

If that isn't the strangest blog post title ever, I don't know what would be.

Around here eyes have been a big deal lately.
Bernie recently had fabulous results with some eye surgery which restored his failing vision.  The plus side is now he has perfect vision, the down side is that I really liked how he looked in glasses and he no longer has any need to wear them. 

Well now at least one of us can see at all times without any prescriptive eye wear. 

Now about the same time Bernie was undergoing eye surgery I came across an article that has been making me ponder for awhile.

The article concerned research that "proved" that brains are hard wired when presented with three photos of disgusting or revolting things and one photo of beautiful or charming things to either look at the disgusting or revolting things and stay on those images or to ignore those images in favor of looking at beautiful photo.

Now here is the kicker/sticker:
People who are conservative or hold conservative values have eye movements that stay focused on the disgusting while the eyes of people who hold liberal values stay on the charming or beautiful photos.

The article has an example of  such a four photo grid.
The "disgusting" photos are a picture of fresh dog poop, a festering wound and insects on food.
The one pleasant photo is of a sweet happy little girl facing the camera.
(Photo above and below: Spring time in Texas from when I lived in Houston.)

Now I staunchly profess to be conservative.
The point of the article was that perhaps political viewpoints are a genetically implanted element rather than a viewpoint arrived at by choice.
Perhaps it is as sensible to discuss/argue politics as it is to discuss/argue how tall one should be.
Nothing can be changed in either case because it (one's political views or height) is just what it is.
OK...that is possible.
But I have a few other questions about eye movement choices between beauty and grotesque.

I think I have demonstrated with my photographic choices that I enjoy looking through my camera lens at beauty.

And yet...when I looked at those four photos in the article I noted that my eyes indeed had a hard time not returning to look at the "yuck"photos after glancing at the happy child.

Apparently conservatives are more aware and responsive to "yuck" and respond with skin sweating and other heightened awareness/concern signals.
The liberals have no physical response to seeing insects on food or dog poop on grass.
They glance away from those scenes and never look back.

 I realize that I do tend to react to things that are not as I think they should be.
For me insects on food equals something that Needs To Be Dealt With.
Poop on the lawn: Needs shoveling or at the very least a warning given to avoid it and perhaps a request to the neighbor that the dog poop needs to be bagged during walks.
Festering wounds: My stomach turns and I wonder why the wound is not being treated and how the person is managing.
Apparently Liberals do a mental shrug about all of that and just mentally smile at the pretty child.

I think I understand why I as a conservative feel pretty good about my response.
I think my response is "responsible", that is, I tend to make a decision about "yuck", such as to clean it up, set up warnings, seek ways to avoid it happening again which I think leaves me and my world a cleaner safer better place.
The thought of a happy child being joyfully watched without regard to her food being covered with insects, her play space having dog poop or someone near her having a festering wound to me is irresponsible, and possibly self centered:  It feels good to see the pretty child but if the kid gets sick from bad food or disease it isn't my concern.

(Mount Olympus, as viewed from my deck on a day with a most unusual rainbow.)

Would I feel safe living with folks who only see beauty and never react to ugly?
Is it a good thing to have a few people in my life that only see the rainbows and never the mudslides from the rainstorm?
Um...probably, in small numbers to remind me to look up to see the rainbows some times when all I see is mud.

Now I am curious about what liberals chose to photograph.
I have a hunch after seeing art galleries and photography shows that liberals often photography.
I notice that they tend to paint or draw or  "edgy" stuff.
You probably know what I mean: 
Strung out druggies on the street.
Broken down houses with trash thrown about.
Creepy torture like scenes of people.

Am I right about that impression the liberals enjoy creating "ugly" art?
I know they scorn pretty flowers and cats and Thomas Kinkade type art.
So why do they create ugly art and yet prefer to see beauty?
And why do conservatives chose to create beauty and yet somehow tend to let their eyes linger on ugly?

Years ago we saw a series where a modern San Francisco family was moved to a 1870s Texas ranch to live as if it was still 1870, herding cows, growing kitchen gardens for food, and wearing the clothing of the era.
They decided to throw a party and invite the cowhand and farm workers.
Everyone had a great time for one night.
The next day it was hot, really hot, too hot to clean up the left overs or wash up the cooking pots and pans.
Two weeks later the plates, pots and pans and dishes were still sitting out in front of the ranch house.
Flies had swarmed and maggots now covered everything.
And by swarmed I mean when they filmed someone walking through the front area they were nearly blacked out by flies.
Bernie and I were both absolutely grossed out by how the family never dealt with the flies.
The family was later evaluated as to whether they would have survived one year on the ranch in the real 1870.
The verdict:
They would have starved and lost the land.
The family was really angry at this evaluation., even thought they had received good training on the need to tend the gardens and keep up with food prep and cleaning.
The article brought that horrific reality show scene back to mind.
I wondered:
Where did their eyes rest while the flies covered everything?
What "beauty" did they find to distract them from that ugliness?

Any thoughts?
Any wonders from you?


ellen b. said...

Well...I can't tolerate flies at all. Highly sensitive to bugs that land on me, too. I must really be conservative because I see all the yuck and have to act or flee...
Beautiful photos. Glad you didn't show me the yuck.

Vee said...

Hmmm...this is going to require more thought than I am capable of tonight. I'll be back tomorrow. I know that I have been accused of being excessively/obsessively concerned with the ugly and germs; however, I would not have linked that to my being a hard- wired Conservative. After all, I was once a Liberal. One cannot accuse you of not diving into some fascinating topics. = D

Anonymous said...

Salvador Dali's painting never attracted me.

Lorrie said...

Liberal/Conservative - hard-wired? I'd have to see some more evidence. Interesting ponderings going on here. Like you, I'd think those ugly things would need to be dealt with. So much more than the L/C needs to be taken into consideration - compassion, profession (I would think that nurses would focus more on the wound that needs treating), etc.

Lovella ♥ said...

Such an interesting topic and article Jill. I loved your photos in today's post and I think I certainly lean towards looking at beautiful things. I do however have a hard time not looking at terrible wounds. I had to think of my beloved and his inability to allow even one fly to live in our house. In summer, he comes in and immediately picks up the fly swatter and ends the life of any fly that dares to buzz around the kitchen. =)

I just bought a birthday card for my aunt's 90th birthday. After looking at many.. I chose a Thomas Kincade photo!