The Anatomical Third Eye and Why Ghosts are Transparent

Almost raining again greetings!!! As a person who had acclimated to the Pacific Northwest, I greet the coming rain after central California’s long, long, long dry summer with much enthusiasm. I do have great sympathy for the southern California people who are living here and dreading it–my time to dread summer is the spring, a more optimistic season than fall generally. It is good to remember that everyone has a different perspective.

I’m taking a small detour from feng shui, which is far from the only foolishness I am engaged in studying. In honor of the season I would like to discuss ghosts and how to see them. There is a reason they are depicted as transparent and it has to do with the third eye.

Many cultures have stories about the third eye, either a real or a symbolic eye or function of the brain, which “sees” things we don’t see with the usual two, usually ghosts or the future. My sense is that these various superstitious and mythological traditions evolved from descriptions of the brain’s ability to construct 3-D rendered images from the two static camera which are your eyes, known as stereo-optic vision. The space you see between things in the depth dimension is imagined, painted onto the images from the light reaching each eye. This takes an enormous amount of processing power, much like the visual card in your computer if you are a gamer. The part of your brain that conducts this processing is like a third eye.

Except I don’t have one. Many people have a minor strabismus, where each eye focuses in a slightly different direction, creating a variety of vision problems. Most are not serious, but do result in a lack of depth perception. When coupled with astigmatism it can make for some very poor vision, but in and of itself, depth perception is only one of 15-20 depth cues. I have no difficulty, as an adult, with my body or any other objects in space–knowing where they are or how they are moving… except balls. Balls are round and small and uniform in color and usually flying through the air with no interceding layers to give depth cues and therefore it is very easy to hit me in the face with a ball, and I cannot catch. Ping pong is right out. My aim is excellent but that is a story for another time.

Children with strabismus (and no other weird complications) do not suppress the vision in either eye–they have double vision with equally opaque images. As they grow they favor one eye and eventually suppress the vision in the weaker of the two. Before it disappears entirely, or if they are in vision therapy, the image from the weaker eye remains, slightly off-center, and transparent. When other kids ask my little one why his eyes are funny I have instructed him to tell them with confidence that he has a special eye for seeing the future and ghosts.

Seeing the future is true. When one sense is diminished the others are strengthened. One of our glories as a species is neuroplasticity, and I am happy to have all that hard drive space to devote to other things (enjoy your ping pong and your basketball, people who can see!) It isn’t exactly seeing the future, but the altered cognition so many people with strabismus have is useful in whatever field they apply it (check portraits of your favorite tech CEOs and famous lawyers, musicians, artists, ne’er-do-wells… having talents doesn’t mean we use them for good all the time.)

The ghosts thing… I hope it isn’t true. I’m scared of ghosts. Maybe that is why I’ve never seen one. I do get the creepiness, though, so its possible I’m more sensitive, even if I can’t see images. Remember our bodies can sense the magnetic field of the earth, the tide, the phase of the moon, and many other things we don’t consciously track or experience. There is a spot in your brain that is like, yup, the tide just turned, time to tweak these two chemical ratios–but you will never feel it or see it or taste it or smell it. So don’t be so sure, people.

If you want to exercise your third eye vision, consider closing one eye–but not for too long or your vision might change. If you don’t have 3-D vision and you’d like to try, look up vision therapy. It’s a lot of work but it is fascinating. Here’s to seeing things in a new light, the change of weather, and rain!

Quiet Trouble
Chilly Hillside
Rainboots are Ready

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