Beyond Perspective

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However, though we live in a Post-Modern paradigm, we are trying to solve our biggest problems as if we still lived in the last paradigm. Michael Michalko, in an article titled “Janusian Thinking”, suggests that humanity needs a particular kind of creative thinking to address the myriad of problems facing us; a kind of thinking that can hold two contradictory points of view at the same time – hence the reference to the god, Janus, who had two faces looking in opposite directions. Though Michalko does escape being caught in a single point-of-view, I believe he doesn’t go far enough. While Modernity was based on the discovery of space, Post-Modernity is based on the discovery of time. The dawn of the 20th Century brought with it not only the discovery of space-time, but also the discovery of a new structure of consciousness appropriate to it.

One of the greatest almost unknown geniuses of the 20th Century was Jean Gebser, who saw in the contemporary scientific, philosophical and artistic breakthroughs the birth of a new consciousness, which he described as ‘arational’ and ‘aperspectival’. It is a consciousness unattached to any point-of-view and hence beyond perspective; it is not so much free of space and time as it is free in space-time. And everywhere it has been revealing itself.

While the consciousness of Modernity was based on a clear
Newtonian/Cartesian separation between the inner and outer world-spaces, the findings of Quantum Physics call that separation into question. Picasso drew the human figure in “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon” from so many points-of-view that the concept of point-of-view itself is no longer applicable. Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry transcended the subject/object basis of language to create a luminous world appearing unattached to any point-of-view. Akira Kurosawa made the film, “Roshomon”, staging the same event from so many different points-of-view that the notion of a point-of-view itself becomes the main character of the story.

Which brings us back to Minkowski, Wittgenstein and our many, many problems. With the discovery of four-dimensional space-time, humanity now has a new geometric world-space in which to reveal itself to itself and to address its problems. And with this new image of reality, Wittgenstein’s admonition to change the way we live so as to fit the mould of life begins to make more sense. The change required, however, is not on the doing level. It is rather a change of consciousness; a change from identifying with a three-dimensional point-of-view to knowing oneself as a four-dimensional aperspectival field. That is, instead of knowing oneself as a character in a story moving through time, knowing oneself as the field of space-time itself within which events occur. This is being in the presence of wholeness.

As for how to do it, there is nothing to do. Or said another way, what does one have to do to live on a round world instead of a flat one?

Opening ourselves to this would be like waking from a nightmare. So perhaps it’s fitting to end with William Blake’s famous couplet:

May God us keep
From single vision and Newton’s sleep

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