Here's another question about imagery experience -- related to Monday's post about whether images have subjective location. Can people (at least some people, in some circumstances) imagine things from multiple angles at once? Francis Galton, in his seminal study of imagery experience (1880, 1907), says that some of the best imagers report being about to do this. Jorge Luis Borges describes a similar phenomenon in a fictional character obsessed with a coin he calls a "Zahir":
There was a time when I could visualize the obverse, and then the reverse. Now I see them simultaneously. This is not as though the Zahir were crystal, because it is not a matter of one face being superimposed upon another; rather, it is as though my eyesight were spherical, with the Zahir in the center.
Now is this really possible? I can't claim ever to have had such an imagery experience myself; but that doesn't mean others can't do it. On the other hand, I don't think we should simply take people at their word when they make unusual claims about their experiential lives.
Here are two reasons one might think multiple-angle imagery is impossible:
(1.) If images are located in subjective space, as some people report -- say, near your forehead -- then it seems natural to suppose (if not strictly implied) that we have a single visual angle on those images, presumably the angle from the center of one's subjective self to the image in question. (Now that I see these words in print, though, I must say there seems to me something a little fishy in them!)
(2.) If images are instantiated in the brain (or caused by the brain) in accord with some topography of either subjective or objective space (e.g., the right side of the image is created by this location in the brain, the left side by this other location), then that topography may well require a single visual angle or point of view (e.g., in "circular vision" right and left might not be well defined).
I don't mean to say that either of these points is decisive -- not by a long shot. I wonder: Have any readers of this blog have had experiences they would describe as imagery from more than one angle simultaneously?