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Perceiving the Unseen

“Sometimes we could conceive of things and still not see them, although they stood right before us.” (pg. 192)

A general statement that applies to many aspects of human life such as love, an answer to your problems, or your car keys.  However at this point in the novel Blindsight by Peter Watts, Siri is contemplating the after effects of the radiation and total experience of being inside the Rorschach.  This quote directly applies to the different types of hallucinations the crew members conceived as they were exploring inside the ship.  For example, Szpindel claims blindness on a mission yet “experienced an ineffable sense of where to reach” when testing his vision. (pg 191)  He was able to reach for the battery and nearly caught it, which by definition is the concept of the psychological term Blindsight.

This concept of perceiving something unseen is a reoccurring theme outlining the novel’s plot.  Firstly, the discovery of the Rorschach was made by Theseus slamming into invisible objects.  Quickly, they come to be recognized as a blind spot which is moving and tracking the ship.  Here the Rorschach is known to be out there, however the crew doesn’t understand what is in front of them.  Similar to the entire Rorschach being able to remain invisible out in space, the qualities apply within the ship as well.  The “scrambler” that multiple members experience on their missions inside are able to disguise themselves with “dynamic pigment patterns, like a squid or a chameleon.” (pg. 225)  These qualities allowed the crew members to feel its presence and catch glimpses of it, knowing it was there right before them yet they were never able to fully see it.


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