looking, a year later
Well, that was my obligatory cute reference to the New Year. Almost as bad as my obligatory check mistakes -- my electric company already got a January 2005 check from me (d'oh!)
John, I'm going to follow up on one of your concluding comments:
"...each moment of looking is redoubled upon another (or **an Other**) signifying perception that might only be â€śperceivedâ€? indirectly. Perhaps this â€śtrapâ€? is, in actuality, what it means to be human? For, without it, our entire subjective experience of â€śbeingâ€? and â€śthinkingâ€? (as pertains to the specular) would collapse..."
It's quite remarkable that you bring up this point, because *if* I interpret your thoughts correctly, you've hit upon an idea that has been suggested to describe consciousness--or at least a major component of consciousness. Now, I'm going to hide my face in shame for reading a popular psychology book (alas), but back in college I read a book by the rock star neurologist Antonio Damasio--The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. He uses the favorite term in a cognitive psychologist's heart-- Mental Representation. Subjective experience, in his terminology, is like a "Representation of Representations." The first layer of representations includes the majority of psychological and physiological information processing. The brain encodes the information coming in through your senses, as well as all the minutae of your bodily state, the actions that your body carries out, and the informational transactions that allow sensations to guide future behavior. The second representation objectifies these first-layer representations, in a sense, and unites them into a story of events (so to speak) that are happening to an entity--namely, to you. So, as an example, the information from the eyes is no longer just the contents of vision, but the contents of vision as it impacts a body that has bodily sensations and that is performing actions. This second layer of representation may describe the mental processes that give rise to consciousness. So from this theoretical perspective, everything that is perceived, is, as you say, perceived indirectly-- not only do the e's grab my attention and remain in my knowledge, but my mind also represents the fact that a subject is viewing those e's, and perhaps even that the e's have become bizarrely compelling, exercising priority over the other letters in front of the subject. It's very evocative of the Hindu atman, often referred to as the "See-er of Seeing."
That's not a completely good explanation of consciousness for anyone who is presently experiencing consciousness. Feelings such as physical pain seem like so much more than a representation-of-representations.
But the idea is a good start.