Failing to See the Illusion

B. I Do Not Experience Stereopsis

Perhaps it is because I might not experience proper stereopsis, i.e., 3D visual experience due to some kind of fusion of the stimulus to both eyes.

Here is a very brief and self-piteous story:

Several years back, exhausted for various reasons,  I was experiencing flashing lights in the corner of my vision. The university doctor sent me to a university opthamologist — but before he did, he gave me a brief visual test and concluded that I was amblyopic. I had thought I was long-sighted but, he told me, my eyes were fine (as the opthamologist later agreed). It seemed that instead the processing of stimuli from one eye was cancelling out or overriding processing from the other. What I saw with each didn’t fuse into one image; each eye competed with the other, one dominated, and so I was effectively seeing with one eye. I had a kind of internal eyepatch (an innargh pirate. Sorry.)

So I couldn’t see 3D depth properly. (“I knew it!” I thought. “That’s why I can’t see those 3D pictures and used to walk into poles at night.”)[1]

Let’s say, then, that I don’t have stereopsis. Thus, I don’t see things receding. That is not part of my visual experience. What I do instead is see things two-dimensionally and make judgements about the resulting two-dimensional experiences. That might explain my failure to see this illusion: for those with strong stereopsis (such as Oliver Sacks; go here for a video discussion about it between Sacks and a once-stereo-less patient), the stereopsis gives a powerful sense of recession. They experience the illusion. I do not.

But do I really need that here? I don’t think so. I don’t see the need to be so sophisticated and complicated in this case. (And I think sophistication/complexity in the absence of necessity is perverse).


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