Three perspectives on life

Saturday, January 18, 2020

4:10 a.m. Since finishing my latest novel (and may the publishing gods smile upon it!) I have been engaged in a binge of reading history and biography. Rather than “sinfully strolling from book to book,” as Emerson put it, I am reading not only for the love of it but for a purpose, however tentative. But since I am reading and not writing, at the moment, I guess we could combine that with conversations like yesterday’s. I get the sense that this is what you have in mind if I am willing.

It is.

I also have the sense, however, that you want me to write a summary of what we have discussed over so many years of conversation.

Also true, and we don’t care what order you pursue your projects. Only, time is not unlimited, and certain times are more receptive to certain messages – we are speaking of the “external” world here. Just as it is true that a message may be delivered prematurely, so it is true that events may render a message redundant, or rather, unnecessary and ineffective.

Like Bronson Alcott, I’m thinking.

Well, like anyone whose message did not align with the times in which it was delivered. You understand, here we are considering only a person’s interaction with the society, not the person’s internal incentive / compulsion.

I think you mean, “Here we are looking at how s/he affects the surrounding civilization, not how s/he works out his or her own destiny considered internally.” I’m getting that you intend to spend a little time discussing our relation to the world as we perceive it.

Your life may be considered in different contexts, and each new way provides a useful perspective, only remember that a perspective is, literally, “the way things look when seen from a certain standing-point.” It was an advantage when the renaissance developed linear perspective so that it could show the world from a given standpoint; but it is no advantage to trade the ability to experience the whole for the ability to see it in great clarity and detail but only in one way.

You have been encouraging us to see things more than one way since the first time I served as your amenuensis in Muddy Tracks.

That was the first time publically, personally it has been our theme for a long time before that.

Only, as I have recently come to realize, I did not do this in my personal life, and did not realize that I did not do it.

You did it inconsistently. An ability to see things from alternate standing-places may manifest more often than one is aware of, merely because the multiple perspective is taken for granted.

So let us spend a few minutes considering how to consider.

  • Your life as an extension of your non-3D self.
  • Your life as it is experienced by the strictly “external” world it is lived in: that is, the 3D-only.
  • Your life as it manifests in 3D while of course continuing to exist in, and being experienced by others in, the non-3D as well.

We could add to the perspectives, but it might blur the point we wish to make.

The first perspective is how one experiences one’s life from the inside. Obviously people’s conscious awareness of how far and in what ways they extend into (and from) the non-3D vary widely. Some are entirely unconscious of the connection, some are essentially always conscious of it, and, as usual, more live between the extremes, distributed along a bell curve. But awareness of connection is not the same thing as existence of the connection. Everyone is connected, only many are only dimly aware of it. Nonetheless they live their lives according to what they are, know it or not. Their lives are the playing-out of dynamics set into motion when they were inserted into a given time and place.

The second is the opposite pole: One’s life as it may be recorded by biographers, so to speak. It is your life considered only as it affects and is affected by the “external” world it lives in. From this perspective, a life may be seen as incomplete, or inadequate, or brilliantly successful, or anything, and it will have no reference to what was going on internally, because all it will have to work with are clues, hints, manifestations. The resulting view will necessarily be wildly inadequate, a form of guessing. It is, say, a life of Napoleon that considers Napoleon as being, in effect, the sum of his interactions with the world.

Using Napoleon as an example of a life that had world-changing results, I take it.

That’s right. Napoleon, Caesar, a handful (relatively speaking) of world-historical individuals only. Anyone who achieves and is studied in view of his or her achievements as if the 3D person alone exists. That is the second perspective.

The third, the one that currently interests you the most, is scarcely recorded, because few can have the data and few can even understand the reality that would produce the perspective.

I’m thinking of Adomnan, who wrote the life of St. Columba, his predecessor as head of their religious community.

Yes, that’s a good example from a different civilization, and you almost need to examine previous civilizations to find such examples. But a viewpoint from 1400 years earlier is going to need to be translated if it is to be understandable.

I’m getting to think that my view needs to be translated, for I am not a product of the civilization I see around me, but of its predecessor.

This is always going to be the case. That’s what we meant, in a way, in saying that a message may be delivered too early or two late to have its maximum effect.

But there’s more to be said about that. Emerson’s message was a little early in some ways, but then was close enough to the times as to make a huge impact, and now is far less so because he is a man of the 1800s. Thoreau’s impact only became great long after his death, and now has died down again. I don’t see how it could be said that the timeliness of a person’s message could be measured.

Who cares, though. What we are sketching is three ways of relating the internal and external worlds in connection to any one individual. So to continue on the third example, how can a 3D-only perspective adequately represent a person whose essence is non-3D as well as 3D, and whose life affected non-3D as well as 3D? And that is everybody. Nobody lives a 3D-only life, because it would be impossible, as we continually remind you.

But the important part is not how others would record your life, nor even, quite, how you would describe your life if the opportunity or necessity were to arise. The point is that, recorded or unrecorded, consciously experienced or not, your life is necessarily 3D and non-3D, and thinking of it any other way is distortion, or let’s say truncation.

Your life has nothing to do with how others see you, nor with what you accomplish, nor with what even a God’s-eye view of your 3D life would see. All of these are factors in a viewpoint; they are not determinants and they are not factors that determine the “worth” or “success” of a life.

But, you see, the result is invisible to the rest of the world, and, in fact, to you yourselves in 3D as well.

You’re always saying we can’t judge because we never have the data.

Correct. And this is not about judgment (as assessment, not as potential condemnation) but about how to use perspectives to correct and supplement and ultimately improve experience.

Not clear to me.

Not yet. Enough for the moment.

Okay. Thanks as always.


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