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Perceived Perceptions Essay

955 words - 4 pages

Perception is a defining factor in all of our lives. Perception affects the way every action, choice, and decision we make is perceived. Though societal influences perception can be shaped based upon bias. The world is filled with it religious, political, sexual, and gender bias just to name a few. It is because of these biases that peoples perception is narrowed and what is deemed as “civilized” or the “right” thing to do may not always be one hundred percent true. In the book Walden by Henry David Thoreau we see a man who has looked past social norms and blazed his own path towards individual enlightenment. This is again illustrated in Lars Eighner’s essay, On Dumpster Diving. Here we see an individual that practices something that most of us would deem unsafe and weird behavior and then again our perceptions of what is correct behavior come into play. Both of these pieces illustrate that there are things that we perceive in our daily lives that may not be as concrete as we think that they are.
In Lars Eighner's essay we learn that Eighner has had a fascination with dumpsters and when he fell on hard times he turned to them as a source of sustenance. In his essay he explains the logistics of how to survive and how to even eat out of dumpsters. This challenges conventional wisdom and perception of what is an acceptable way of supporting yourself. In the piece it is stated that you can find a lot things in dumpsters. Many things are carelessly discarded while they are still good and useful. Food, clothing, electronics, etc. are some of the things that can be found in dumpsters. These dumpsters act as a window into the lives of many. By understanding what they throw away a intelligent “scavenger” can piece together what is happening in peoples lives. In his essay Eighner addresses this issue with this anecdote, “I once found a small paper bag containing some unused condoms, several partial tubes of flavored sexual lubricant, a partially used compact of birth control pills, and the torn pieces of a picture of a young man. Clearly she was through with him and planning to give up sex altogether” (Eighner, 116). By being able to see things this woman had thrown away Eighner was able to discover what had happened to her. This idea illustrates the main concept of his essay which is that what we throw way may not be waste. It still may hold worth possibly as far a usefulness goes, but it holds worth because it shows the impact that you have made on the world. It illustrates your perceptions of what you think waste is and what you deem damaged enough to throw away.
In Thoreau’s book we learn that he has traveled away from society to try and find enlightenment in the nature surrounding...

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