[Studio: Environment] Reading Response – The World of Perception, Merleau-Ponty

This response focuses on the comparison and progression of the first two lectures in this book.

In the first Lecture, Merleau-Ponty examines the relationship between perception and science. Perception is primitive and subjective, inciting our curiosity over time for a universal understanding of the nature. This curiosity motivates us to summarize and conclude from our perception, to distill objectivity out of subjectivity, and therefore, to form scientific knowledge. The development of our perception brings us closer to the rational nature. In addition to our instinct perception of the surroundings, science aids in our understanding with the essence of wisdom, the distillation of various versions of perception. However, science does not equal to nature. It is still essentially the outcome of the subjective perception, the perspective from human beings as a species. Does objectivity really exist? Merleau-Ponty answers that science is the approximation of nature. Objectivity may never appear if subjectivity does not exist in our perception. The objective is always relative to the subjective. The relationship between the two is probably the impetus for us to endlessly explore of the nature and position ourselves in this world that we have not yet fully understand.

If scientific knowledge makes us wise, then the encouragement of expressing our unique perception makes us sophisticated. After we develop a fair understanding of the nature, the subjective perception is once again encouraged. The nature will not be as colorful and meaningful without the creativity inside subjectivity. Art becomes one of the media that we use to express and share our perception. Cubism follows the inherent method of our perception – observing the environment from different angles, from which the objects appears differently every time. Instead of calculating and synthesizing different images imprinted into our mind, the cubists display the images as what they are, without processing them to form one full image from a fixed perspective. However, does this method truly reflect on the inherent way of perception? Or does it merely add one more procedure to our previous method of exploring the science? After habitually converting pieces of images into one, the cubists invert the one image back to pieces again. Another possibility is that they intentionally block the route of converting pieces into one and stick the pieces directly onto the canvas. The idea of cubism is to cherish the intrinsic perception. However, to deliberate the actual process of the painters forming the images, it might only defy this initial intention.

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