Perception is reality. Reality is Perception

In hopes of expanding your understanding of how visual and verbal inputs completely alter your perspectives and reality I have chosen one of my favorite quirky movies to help elucidate the premise. Observe the power of perception. The tale speaks to what I believe is an important lesson in life, one of my signature phrases: “Perception is reality. Reality is perception.”

The movie The Grand Budapest Hotel based on the book, “The Society of the Crossed Keys” is a colorful tale following the adventures of Gustave H, an influential concierge at

You see? There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed, that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant way

The Grand Budapest Hotel; a European hotel. The story is bookended between the first and second world wars. The “lowly” lobby boy, a key character, becomes Gustav H’s (the prime character) most trusted friend. Throughout the story and adventures Gustav H adheres to a very rigid and “civilized” code of honor. The belief that no matter how lowly you are in your station in life, you are elevated through the act of being a “gentleman’ and civilized.

The loyalty between various “Established Hotel” concierge’ around the world sets the tone for the way that civilized behavior is developed as a means of language, compromise, established loyalty, and the perception of being something greater than oneself. To many of the hotel’s patrons the Concierge and bell boys are “lowly servants.” The movie vividly depicts how through living their code, their loyalty, and pride in action they create an entirely alternative world that the patrons rarely see. They are far more respectable and respectful than most of the patrons. They are privy to the quirks, vices, and failings of the patrons. All the while they are discrete, dignified, and respectful. That is the power of belief and principles. As principles too paint perception, they can change the entire “reality.”

Gustav H the main character in the movie takes you through a series of clearly Machiavellian situations where his behaviors assault the senses of a “moral person”. (See Article on Machiavelli.) Yet at the same time he does so with dignity, the utmost in service to his patrons, and a stern adherence to the principles of his duties, discretion, and loyalty.

I have seen many times, especially in Eastern Europe where the “belief” in the superior nature or stature of an edifice or person was enough to elevate that edifice or person to a place of influence and respect. All of that, in spite of no good reason or explanation of why it should deserve such status. ‘Belief” is a driving force, a collective belief or perception can send men to the gallows and women to the stake. It causes people to take their own life when they feel that they can go no further.

Rationalization is borne from perception; preexisting biases can skew your perception. Your view and other external factors may also alter your perception erroneously. The skewed perception may then support the rationalization of “bad” actions.

"To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it – but, I will say: he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace!" (Grand Budapest Hotel)

Gustave H’s entire image and social construct is predicated upon a reality that existed only in his mind. That said he “created” the same construct for his guests by the sheer force of his will and perception. The quote on the right is a great example of how Gustav created the world that he desired.

Once I spent seven straight hours on a surveillance. I kept copious, detailed notes about the subject. When he moved, I moved. Near the end of the day the light was fading and I removed my sunglasses. Shock!!! I suddenly realized that none of the colors that I recorded were even remotely accurate. I had to rewrite 10 pages of notes to fix the perceptual error. Lesson learned.

Why is someone evil? Stupid? Wonderful? Etc.? Is it your belief because you have experienced it first hand, on repeated occasions? Is it because your friend, who never met them either, or the news repeater told you on the TV? (modern TV news personalities repeat from a written script, they don't report)  Would you put that person to death? With that level of proof? Would you want to be found guilty that way?

Once you are able to recognize how your perception can be skewed, you should realize that the only solution to the conundrum is to employ many people, with many perceptions. Doing so will allow you, working in concert to form a more objective point of view tamping down the preexisting biases and frame of reference. By employing such an approach, you are able to more reliably identify and assess complex and simple things rapidly, objectively, and accurately. Mastering this concept will uniquely position you in a place that can protect and help you as well as others who you can teach. Always remember as Ronald Regan repeatedly told Michael Gorbachev the Russian proverb, "Доверяй, но проверяй" {Doveryai, no proveryai} (trust, but verify). This you too should practice. Always remain aware that perception is reality, and reality is based primarily upon your perception. You should resultantly be more flexible with your thought processes and teach yourself to gather maximum data in order to assure rapid progression from one perception to another. That skill, well-practiced, will significantly enhance your intellectual and physical performance in the “real world”.

In closing, I present below a great video that I found after writing this article which utilizes the movie Grand Budapest Hotel to elucidate my point through careful visual analysis. I hope that you enjoy and that this article has “stimulated your little grey cells”.

The movie is truly a glorious comedy laced with light and dark humor, love, loyalty, and wonderment of  a day and life long past. Below is one of my favorite dark humor scenes with Willem Dafoe playing the nearly mute strongman.

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