Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Deconstructing Multi-Perspectival-ness

Originally posted on September 6, 2011

(…or is it multi-perspectival-osity? I mean, can you just make up words like that?)
The scene opens at an unnamed university, not in a secret bunker under a mountain, but right out in the open looking like a normal college campus. Zoom in on one nice-looking building, into a window in which a nice looking instructor is meeting with an ordinary-appearing group of student-types. The instructor speaks: “Well, Madina, no, there is no such word as multi-perspectival-ness. But what then is that state of being open to the presence of multiple perspectives? There’s the long view and short-term view. There’s using a word in this sense and in that sense? There’s the awareness that definitions are no longer fixed, but flabby, overlapping, and drifting with time. A mouse is no longer just a small rodent.”

“So, Professor Humbug (not her real name),” says one of the more articulate students (who may or may not be a plant), “It seems you’re saying that the idea is that there are different perspectives, world-views, points of view, and that it’s not clear at all that one of these is necessarily more true or valid than another? Ma’am, that’s very unsettling, to say the least. Shall we evaluate something in terms of its truth value, its consonance with the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures according to a respected someone else, tradition, elder, or our own interpretation? Shall we evaluate it in terms of usefulness? And even then, what kind of usefulness—economic, happy-making, customer-generating, what?  It turns out that if you change the perspective you get a different outcome!  Whoa! What about just simple truth!? That was good enough for our parents’ generation!”

Geekman: “But then it turns out that maybe half the absolute truths that they learned about when they were growing up—about science, astronomy, language, history, politics, economics, man-woman relations, sex, parenting, relations among different kinds of peoples, God, religion, the afterlife, patriotism, how great heroes were, how bad villains were, what is proper dress, what is acceptable language—doggone it, darn near everything—was either flat wrong or only partially right or controversial and presently being debated! And middle aged established white men of high rank not infrequently engaged in terrible acts of fraud, sexual exploitation, infidelity, disloyalty, crass self-interest, and, in other words, massive hypocrisy!  Well, what can then be believed?  And disillusion has followed disillusion!  Even many wonderful clear-cut rebels turn out to be sleaze-bags in some roles. And heroes who revolt against tyrants then get into power and become tyrants in turn! That’s not supposed to happen! And so many of our wonderful movie and television stars who were so full of life? They were jacked up on stimulant drugs! Oh, nooooo! What can be believed?” (Obviously, Geekman has had waay too much coffee.)

Professor Humbug: “So maybe we are being called on to learn how to relate to a higher degree of complexity in everything! What if people might better be imagined as complexes of roles, some of which they  perform well, others mediocre, and yet others they’re actually inferior. And depending on our values, then, most heroes will have some roles where they are if not bad guys, at least they’re about as bad and good as the rest of us. And women, too—they’re not sugar and spice and everything nice. Nor are they any worse than us.”

Madina: “But, then, can I no longer have any  stereotypes, biases, prejudices, simplistic categories?”
     Prof H: “No, you cannot. That’s what we mean by learning to relate to a higher degree of complexity.  It means growing up another notch or two or three, becoming distinctly more mature. In an analogy to a computer, you have to upgrade the power and memory of your machine from 256 kilobytes to 20 billion bytes, from 66 million flops per second (megahertz) to over fifteen times faster! Get with it! That’s what it means to become multi-perspectival. It means to be able to weigh many points of view, to be nimble and flexible in juggling them.”

Jockboy: “I don’t know how to juggle, how to improvise, how to shift roles, how to shift perspectives, how to be creative!”

Geekman: “So learn. Don’t think that your ignorance will be seen as okay: not knowing how to be multi-perspectival will soon be viewed as not knowing how not to wet your pants—something you should have learned by age six!”

Jockboy, reaching for an articulate, clever, philosophically sophisticated riposte: “.. . . . . Oh yeah?”

Watch out for the next episode of this thrilling and unendingly convoluted dialogue as portrayed by three-dimensional beings in the fourth dimension of forward-moving time!—but actually impelled by five-dimensional channeling of sixth-dimensional inspirations.

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