The International Congress of Behavioral Optometry (ICBO) is set for September 2014 in England – or as Roger Miller says, Inga-Lind – and I’m looking forward to the trip even if I don’t see bobbies on bicycles two by two. As you can see from this announcement, the theme of the meeting is Vision is the Brain’s Way of Touching and the keynote speakers are Alain Berthoz and Janette Atkinson. I’m not looking to take credit for the theme, but I believe I may have introduced the theme to my colleagues in the U.S about 13 years ago. Though I didn’t blog about it until last year, I first came across the phrase when reading Alain Berthoz’s book, The Brain’s Sense of Movement in 2000, who credited the French philosopher Merleau-Ponty for its origin. January 2000 was the last annual Kraskin Invitational Skeffington Symposium Meeting in D.C. that I attended, and I remember incorporating the phrase into my presentation. The presentation was about my personal exploration into the motoric bases of vision, and the phrase made such a distinct impression on me, that after I cited it I said: “So let me repeat that again. Merleau-Ponty considered vision to be the brain’s way of touching.” A number of people asked me to pause so that they could write the phrase down. I wasn’t the only one moved by it.
Merleau-Ponty’s notion of vision being a form of palpation by the eyes serves as the basis for Sue Barry’s eloquent description of emerging binocular vision as providing a palpable sense of space between herself and objects, and in between objects themselves. At the invitation of Dr. Paul Harris, I’m going to have the pleasure of doing a joint presentation with Sue, although I’m going to refrain from discussing the topic in detail until we finish developing it together. I will give you a hint, though. It touches upon a more recent book by Alain Berthoz, published last year, entitled Simplexity, and will merge the concept of vision as an “umwelt” or personalized conceptualization of space together with the notion of vision therapy as a form of healing – and healing as a creative act. I hope that you can make plans to attend ICBO in England, September 11-14, 2014.