Visualization is the process of creating your own visions. It’s complex. It’s also hard to learn if you don’t read and don’t have to turn things in to actual thoughts to visualize. Modern media, rather annoyingly, isn’t helping much.
No, this isn’t going to be a series of easy cheap shots at media imagery. The very obvious doesn’t need elaboration. The stories might be crap, but some of the visual stuff is pretty good, particularly in gaming media.
The problem is that the stories are trying to be visual, not stories. If you remember being read kid’s stories, and having to fill in the gaps when there were no pictures to look at, trying to follow the storyline, it’s as basic as that.
It’s one of the most valuable skills any human being can have, and it’s being suffocated by this damn spoon feeding media. You don’t have to visualize, to the point you lose the skill.
Visualization – The “advertising effect”
Arguably worse is the “advertising effect”. This is the bit where the brain ignores most of what it sees as irrelevant. The absurd overload of imagery drowns out personal visualization. People don’t even get enough time to really take in an image before it’s replaced with another, or more likely a lot of other images.
This is the epitome of unfocused. While your brain is rummaging around in this visual confetti, exactly how much visualization can you do?
The “illiteracy effect” on visualization
Since most people don’t read anything which requires visualization, the ability to associate ideas, even in the same sentence (Ahem? I hope not) is pretty lousy. The famous, and dull, “What are we talking about now?” is the illiteracy effect in full swing. They aren’t stupid; they literally can’t make the mental associations between two statements put together.
Literature makes readers make associations, of actions, ideas, mental images, and, well, everything involved in what you’re reading. It’s a unique effect. Only music really goes as far in to “figure it out yourself” as literature.
Good visual art creates associations, even the really advanced type of associations, but how much current visual art is really much more than a “Postcard from Whatever” or “Another Endless Pic of Me, This Second in Time” ? The fantastic things that visual art can do are crowded out by the truly banal, most of the time.
So it’s no wonder that people’s visualization skills are pretty shaky. Ask them to visualize a better world, and you’re going to get a rather uncertain response. Ask them to visualize a better life for themselves, which is what they’re supposed to be doing, aspirations and all, and the response will actually get lost in trying to picture itself as anything more than a shopping list, if that. How good would you say people are likely to be in visualizing issues, given this total incompetence in very basic visualizations?’
Visualization? What visualization?
The inability to visualize mentally is as handicapping as blindness. If you can’t even visualize your own existence, maybe it’s even worse. On a global scale, it’s catastrophic.
If the entire human race doesn’t even have the skills to visualize a sane society, how likely is a sane society? How mindless is mindless enough? Living in a junk shop of a world, being sold crap and crime every 5 seconds, and why would you want a mind? What possible use could it be?
The problem, of course, is that if you can’t visualize a solution to a problem, you’re going to be stuck with that problem for a very long time. Just think how many problems there are in everyone’s lives.
So maybe being mindless isn’t such a good idea. Maybe not being able to visualize is dangerous. The one place people never look for answers is in their own minds. The place is usually a mess, cluttered with “life’s little packaging”. Usually hasn’t been dusted much, either, this place, and there’s often a distinct impression of mouldiness.
The pity of it is that somewhere in that mess is a way to visualize, or at least the remains of the nearly forgotten skills. People may never have visualized at all after childhood. After all, to “live”, all you need to do is recycle whatever you’ve been taught or told, right?
No thinking at all required. No use of intelligence, either. Any idiot can simply recite information and agree with anything. You could be totally stagnant by 22, and a fossil by 30, and it would make no difference at all in that undemanding little mindset. Life is one big set of quotes from other people.
Of course, you wouldn’t be able to solve problems, either. You can’t visualize solutions outside the information you’re given. Nor can you have the choice or (even the right) to distrust anything you’re told, but that’s OK, too, isn’t it? So the solution is always going to be based on what you’re told, whether it’s right or wrong. You have no options.
So what’s the solution? As an author, saying “read” seems a bit self-serving, but you could do worse. You could try doing something for yourself, too, like doing your own thinking, if only to see if you really can escape from the no options mode.
There is one possible out. Visualization is based on some sort of need, in many cases. You may not even know why you need whatever it is, but it’s a sort of visualization. That pesky need to see clearly is more useful than it looks. If the mind can see, it can think about what it sees. Better option? Better than lost forever in an ocean of bullshit, for sure.