, , , , , ,

In playing golf, one of the most deceptively tricky strokes happens on the green. The green lawn looks so smooth and velvety that one might think the final stroke is easiest. But, it is not. Unless, the holes are on the practice green (which is indeed rather easy because of its flatness) your stroke might inadvertently send your ball past the green to the slippery slope down the cliff. So it is important to make your stroke accurate.

One way to make your final putting accurate is to assume the ball’s point of view. So you crouch on the ground, a little bit like a dog you might say, but lower than even a Chihuahua’s position, and look at the hole. You adjust your ball so that the line on the ball becomes aligned to the line from your ball’s position to the hole in the green. Then, you notice that the line on the ball, when looked at from above, the normal point for view of your standing position, looks slanted. You are tempted to adjust the ball line to your point of view from above, but doing so might invite a mistake because it is the ball that has to travel into the hole but not you.

I find this experience quite interesting because it reminds me of the “truth” that not only do things look different depending on a point of view but also reality itself can be felt differently depending on what sense one uses to decipher it. For instance, the perception of reality of a dog which mostly uses olfactory sense to feel reality must be vastly different from that of average contemporary humans who predominantly seem to use visual sense to perceive reality. (To be sure, not all contemporary humans use visual sense to perceive reality. For instance, blind people must use auditory sense to perceive reality. Thus, their sense of reality must be vastly different from the non-blind people. But, here I want to compare humans’ sense of reality and dogs’ sense of reality because crouching posture somehow reminded me of a dog’s view of reality.)

So, dog’s view of reality is very different from human’s view of reality, just like the golf ball’s position’s perspective of a hole is different from that of the standing player’s. But occasionally, according to Oliver Sacks, some altered/damaged neurological conditions can induce a dog-like sense of reality in humans. In one of his clinical tales, “The Dog Beneath the Skin,” Oliver Sacks discusses such a case in a medical student. He writes of his conversation with this student: “’I went into a scent shop,’ he continued. ‘I had never had much of a nose for smells before, but now I distinguished each one instantly – and I found each one unique, evocative, a whole world.’ He found he could distinguish all his friends – and patients – by smell: ‘I went into the clinic, I sniffed like a dog, and in that sniff recognized before seeing them, the twenty patients who were there. Each had his own olfactory physiognomy, a smell-face, far more vivid and evocative, more redolent, than any sight fact.” He could smell their emotions – fear, contentment, sexuality – like a dog. He could recognize every street, every shop, by smell – he could find his way around New York, infallibly, by smell.” Since I am visually oriented person, like most of modern humans, I would probably find such a dog’s perception of reality unpleasant.

“There are no facts, only interpretations. ” – Friedrich Nietzsche