A Thought Thanks to “Getting It!!!” by Guy Sengstock
The FedEx Logo Suggests We Have Free Will
The fact we can see the arrow in the logo or not suggests we have free will.
Guy Sengstock recently shared a beautiful elaboration on the wonder of teaching — that magic of “getting it” — and explored the meaning and nature of that experience. He mentioned “the special learning that reconstitutes the world” and how “the world is co-constituted by us” — the video is worth every minute. Particularly, I wanted to focus in on his discussion about the FedEx Arrow.
Do you know about the “negative space” trick? If not, you might experience in a moment the very magic Guy discussed. Go to Google Image, type in “FedEx Logo,” and give it a look. Do you see it? You know, what’s right in front of you. Come on, look a little harder. See it now?
Between the “E” and the “x” — made of the negative space. I remember the day someone pointed that arrow out to me — my mind was totally blown. It was a weird feeling. Guy mentioned in his stroll “knowledge that reconstitutes the world” — that’s an apt way to describe it.
Just like Guy mentioned, when I first saw the arrow, I suddenly felt that the world was a place where things could hide from me even when I looked directly at them. A section from Nabokov’s autobiography, Speak, Memory, comes to mind:
‘[…] it was most satisfying to make out among the jumbled angles of roofs and walls, a splendid ship’s funnel, showing from behind the clothesline as something in a scrambled picture — Find What the Sailor Has Hidden — that the finder cannot unsee once it has been seen.’
If we take the experience of the FedEx Logo seriously, the whole world can change. What else is hidden from us? With that question, the room we’re sitting in, the park we’re strolling through, the restaurant we frequent — all can transform. And do you feel that? That tension? We get to decide now if that tension either pulls us down into Pynchonian paranoia or inspire us up with “the lofty wings” of Dante. The choice is ours.
I want to highlight that last phrase: “the choice is ours.”
“Do ‘Lacks’ Suggest Humans Have Free Will?” argued that our ability to change “nothings” into “lacks” suggested that humans have free will. Basically, the experience of a “nothing” becoming a “lack” is similar to that moment when I went from not seeing an arrow in the FedEx logo to seeing one (what was nothing suddenly became “a presence”). Sure, we can argue that “negative space” and “lacks” aren’t identical (I think it’s probably that all “negative spaces” are “lacks,” but not all “lacks” are “negative spaces”), but I just wanted to focus on this particular phenomenological experience to help draw into light that “mysterious experience” of “a nothing” becoming “a not nothing.” The way Guy focused on it really inspired me, and I think the existence of that moment and its possibility provides “reason to think” we have freedom.
Why? Because we choose if we see the arrow or not by choosing if we put ourselves where we can meet the conditions needed to see the arrow. No, we probably can’t look at the FedEx Arrow and “will to see the arrow” (which suggests why we don’t have “total will”), for we don’t even know it’s there to will it (which suggests the intricate relationship between “freedom” and “ideas,” hence why good teachers increase freedom, even though teachers could also manipulate us with propaganda). However, we do control if we pursue people, search for books, etc. who and which can teach us about the arrow. And with that, we can suddenly make “nothing” a “thing” (we can make “nothing happens,” but since “nothing happens,” the evidence favoring freedom instantly conceals itself).
We don’t see evidence for freedom in the realm of the physical so much as we do in the realm of “the mental and/or the mental influencing the physical,” but unfortunately it seems like most experiments to “study freedom” are done monitoring the movement of our finger versus something like “that special moment” when we realize there’s an arrow in the FedEx Logo (perhaps precisely because it’s so hard to arrange an experiment in a laboratory that would simulate “The FedEx Logo Experience” — hard to say). And critically, when it comes to the arrow, there’s nothing causality could do to make us see the arrow. All the physical forces in the universe could come raining down upon us, and we simply won’t see anything different. An idea must hit us, a thought to look at the logo differently, and ideas only come from people. And as discussed throughout O.G. Rose, there’s good reason to think people are “emergent” more than just “causal.” If this is true, even though not “totally free,” we are still free enough.