On today’s installment, I am wondering about perspective.
The photo is of Lake Louise in April. Lake Louise is absolutely gorgeous in the warmer months. It’s still stunning in winter though a little dismal.
Perspective as an artform is “the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point”. But that impression will depend on the place the artist is drawing from, how tall they are, and how their eyes function, just to name a few variables.
Perspective is also, “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”.
In writing, we attempt to show the perspective of another human being, but it often has a piece of ourselves in it. We also use point of view like a camera capturing the character’s life. We are inside their head and one with them in first person. With third person we may still follow them closely to keep that intimacy of first person, but have a little more flexibility to see what else may be coming towards them. We can also choose to be less limited in full third person and follow a few characters, or we can be omniscient and tell the story as if we are god-like and can see and know all. We can also use second person, but it commonly pulls the reader out of a story if not executed well. The Choose Your Own Adventure series employs second person in a good way.
But we have even more tools in writing because we get to play with time. We can choose to tell the tale in the past, thus the reader’s impression is that someone at least lived to tell the tale. If it’s in the present, tension is created and the reader’s impression is filled with unknowns. We can also mix tenses. Maybe the bulk of the story has happened and now we’re in the present and who knows what will happen.
In “reality” it’s fascinating how two people can be in the same place at the same time and their experience is vastly different. Maybe one hears just a little better than the other, so the message stays truer to what was said. Maybe one has difficulty comprehending because their brain doesn’t focus the same or because they have internal biases that alter the message. Maybe the person delivering the message didn’t realize how it could be interpreted in more than one way. Clear as mud is one of those idioms that describes this. Ever play the game Telephone?
People often want something, but can’t accurately convey what it is they need to someone else. Anyone who has gathered requirements for a project knows this problem well.
Everyone’s reality is different. The child living in a refugee camp may have some things in common with the starving child in Africa, but their lives are vastly different in other ways. A person may act as if they don’t like you, but it could be that they are hard of hearing and are trying to understand what you’re saying.
Perspective has a dark side though. People often fall into arguing that their perspective is the only reality. Problems arise when they take extreme measures like making up statistics and presenting them as facts in order to control another person. Before long, their little lie becomes “truth” and they recruit others then it balloons into a war against those who think differently.
Some people prefer to stick to their own view of the world. Others embrace diversity. I love that moment when I’m presented with new information that brings about clarity on an old problem. If I haven’t experienced something remotely similar though, it’s hard to understand where another person may be coming from. That’s when I see an opportunity for personal growth.
I’m late on posting this, but I was waiting to see if any other thoughts about it popped into my mind.
I remember an incident that happened on a high school field trip. We were supposed to be seeing a play, but the director skipped town with the money and the cast refused to perform. Plan B was a movie. Half went to Mulan, which started earlier. My half were waiting to see Liar Liar. Our school chaperone left for a short time and the Eaton Centre staff made us go outside to wait. An inebriated male started talking to us and he was the happy kind of drunk. Everything was fine. Until his brother showed up and was convinced we were trying to harm brother 1. Brother 2 pulled a knife out and began threatening our group of theatre kids. Despite Brother 1 adamantly stating he was fine, brother 2 wouldn’t back down. One of our group was poised to take him down using karate if necessary. Thankfully our chaperone returned and the brothers went on their way. At least that’s how I remember the ending, but maybe my friend talked brother 2 down. It was nearly two decades ago, so pardon the fuzziness. Also, we may have been a little inebriated ourselves being naughty teens…
So that incident, as I remember it, could be full of holes partially due to my emotions. Adrenaline pumped through me. My heart raced. I knew my friend was a skilled martial artist, but a knife was serious. I worried someone would end up in the hospital. In my head I was yelling, “Where is our teacher?!” And, “Why did the mall have to kick us out?!” Luckily no one died and not a drop of blood spilled.
The movie was hilarious.