I started and stopped three different perspectives this week, each time asking the question: what matters my perspective? Whether I discuss politics, the state of higher education, baseball, or religion in America, what matters my perspective?
So each time, I deleted what I wrote and started over. Then I thought about my students. One of the things I love to talk about most is perspective. And not in the way that may first come to mind.
There are two ways to simplify perspective: first, it can be conflated with point of view, and we are left with 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person. We can complicate 3rd person into omniscient and limited. The second way to simplify perspective is to limit it to large identity-based categories like gender and race, which provide some context, but certainly do not, and should not, define one’s perspective.
In order to truly understand the intricacies and importance of perspective when it comes to literature (both reading and writing) it helps to channel Star Trek and consider the implications of Time and Space. From when and where does a perspective come from?
Is it told as it happens? Is it told years after the event? Is the narrator part of the story, or on the margins looking in? Is the narrator reliable? If written about past or future, from whence does the narrator exist? And these questions are only the beginning.
So what really matters, in regards to each of our perspectives, is the unique Time and Space from which we choose to share our stories.
I’m Michael Perry, and that is my perspective.