80 years later (42 since the film was made), one can see the excesses of both religious and political repression… and the gross lack thereof in modern times that followed the latest egalitarian revival in the 1960s.
But if one gets up outside the box of “this” =or= “that,” one can see that humans have been caroming back and forth from “this” =to= “that” (and back again) with little or no ability to see any other alternative besides the sort of wanton free expression we take for granted now =or= totalitarian moralism, and control of the dumbed down masses with shame-dumping, guilt-heaping and – if those fail – outright battering.
It doesn’t look to me like most people can tell what is from what isn’t. All they can do is believe in “this” or “that” and follow the leader. One could so easily do otherwise by using one’s eyes, ears and sense of emotions. But, alas, almost no one can do that after they have been subjected to the ministrations of the “instructors.”
My take on it will disagree with yours, though maybe not so much in the end. For I am highly skeptical about the very idea of seeing what is, as you call it. To me it seems one cannot go beyond interpretation, and it seems to me any interpretation will be made possible by a practice. That said, I strongly agree with you that some interpretations are distressing, harmful, immoral, etc. And these may indeed be somewhat forced upon us, by being trained/conditioned into these ways of acting and thinking that make us interpret things such and such. To see things differently, I think, is always possible, yet may be very, very hard at times.
One way of seeing things differently is to take a detached, sort of scientific way of interpreting. Seeing others in terms of mere biological objects may be one example. Such that you do not see the subjectivity in the eyes of the other, but rather see them as biological machines or something of the like. At times, I can imagine, such a way of seeing may be helpful, in reducing distress. At other times, it may give rise to a feeling of loneliness or disconnectedness. I think though, that such a way of seeing others is still one that is only enabled by a practice of biology, and possible other sciences, which emphasize only certain aspects of an organism. Hence, to me it is still an example of interpretation according to the norms of some subculture. And I am willing to bite the bullet here: both to see a table as a usuable object that allows to sit at, put other things on etc, and to see it merely in terms of a plane and legs hinge upon social ways of treating it, the former being to see it as one of the many table users, the other maybe as one of the table producers, or as a mathematician.
I see such ways of interpreting according to subcultural norms as enabling interpretation, rather than hiding, or obscuring the one true nature of things. To see interpretation going hand in hand with a communal way of living has helped me to interpret my psychosis as such, reducing much distress as well. Where our ways of seeing things may meet eachother, is in the idea that to get stuck into one interpretation can be unnecessarily distressful, harmful etc.
Then we should have mutual clarity about our diverse points of view.
I try my best (at least) to empirically observe not only what is “out there” but also my processing of what I see “in here,” accepting that corruptions and contaminations of pure perception are bound to occur, and trying to see those contaminations and corruptions as they are.
(One hopes that the “conceptual generalizations” one acquires from observing are as close to accurate as possible, but also accepts the fact that memory is both unreliable at best, and biased by previous experience.)
Kantian empiricism (vs. Cartesian rationalism) in short.
This is a queer dichotomy to me - for Kant is known to have provided a synthesis between rationalism and empiricism, in short: all knowledge comes from experience (such is the empiricism part), but experience is only possible in the forms/categories of the mind (the rationalism part). No such thing as experience of the thing in itself according to Kant. And I follow such a conception - though amanded in such a way that the categories are socially and historically situated. The transcendental ‘we’, instead of ‘I’.