In dreams as in reality, we constantly face the contingency of a dynamic world. Therefore, the passage from ignorance to knowledge is carried out through translation, which in also quite unstable. To know means to understand what is unknown through what we already know. And, in this process, what we already know and what we just learnt mutually contaminate each other. To perceive what is unknown means to translate and interpret it through past experiences and through what in already know. Simultaneously, what we already know is transformed by the new analogy we perceive and create between the two things.
Art is a good example: a new art movement, such as cubism or expressionism, will expand our understanding of art, and retrospectively we will reassess other work of art in relation to this new development. We don’t look at art the same way before and after Picasso. To perceive is to interpret; it’s not a perfect translation of what things are in and of themselves.
Given this constant state of contingency, our lives depend on our capacity to stabilize, momentarily, what surrounds us. As embodied beings, there’s another illusion that we need to acknowledge: the fiction of a stable and autonomous self. We’re vulnerable due to our bodily limitations; we depend on others to understand our words and our gestures to communicate. Yet at all times, our body can experience trauma or illness. But as pointed out by Cobb, even ideas can change us. Thus to think of ourselves as stable entities is, at best, a temporary fact.
(Emilie Dionne in an article commenting on the movie ‘Inception’)