Thursday, April 26, 2007


Here’s the word for the day. It is scotoma. Sounds like something you want to put ointment on, doesn’t it? I first heard it years ago and was fascinated by it. What it means is that you have become blind to something that is sitting right in front of you.

To illustrate how it works is for you to imagine that you just broke a lamp in your living room. It’s still functional, but something on that wonderful, decorative, very expensive and very old lamp has broken off. You can see the jagged edges where the piece is broken off. It’s very upsetting to you. It is also very obvious to you. Every time you see it you cringe because your wonderful lamp is not wonderful anymore. It’s busted.

Day Two: You walk into your living room and your eyes are drawn to the poor, broken lamp immediately. You don’t see anything else first in that room except your broken lamp.

Day Three: You walk into your living room and your eyes slide past the lamp and then ratchet back onto it. You think, “I’m going to have to fix that before Aunt Martha gets here for Thanksgiving, or I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Day Four: You walk into your living room, your eyes slide past the lamp and once again move back to the lamp. You think, “Shit, I forgot to get the glue. I need to fix that lamp.”

Day Five: You walk into your living room and have totally forgotten about the lamp. You move to the sofa, watch some television and eventually, as the day winds to a close and it gets dark in the room you reach up to turn on the lamp. You don’t even notice that it is broken.

Day Sixty-three: Aunt Martha comes to dinner. The very first thing she sees upon entering your living room is the lamp. She exclaims. You’ve forgotten all about the lamp being broken.

That’s a scotoma. You became blind to that which was right in front of you.

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