What is it to remove the dynamic fluidity, the uniqueness of my very essence? What is it to break apart the infinite intricate fragments that so fragilely comprise “me”? To completely and finitely define oneself is impossible. And it is here, in an attempt to understand the paradox that is my identity, that I begin to realize and appreciate the incomprehensibility that is “me”.
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When I first came to college, I thought I knew the term perspective quite well. My elementary school art teacher had taught me that perspective was the way in which an object is perceived. Years later, my high school English teacher would stretch that definition to include narrative point-of-view, which determines through whose perspective a story is viewed. I saw the world as black and white.
Through my myriad English courses at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, I became intimately aware of the delicate intricacies of perspective. I realized that context was key to really understanding perspective, and I immersed myself in courses exploring literary theory and criticism, and rhetoric. Semiotics. Structuralism. Psychoanalytic criticism. Moral criticism. Post-colonialism. Feminist criticism. Humanism. Marxist criticism. Gender/Queer studies. Post-modernism. Media studies. I was fascinated.
Suddenly, the world jumped to life in a fury of color and detail. I was surrounded by new perspectives, and overcome with the realization that reality was relative, shaped by our very personal and most intimate experiences. How our culture, and ultimately our language, shapes our worldviews — the lenses through which we see our world, our existence — was somehow revolutionary. Nietzsche, in The Genealogy of Morals, put it best when he wrote:
Henceforth, my dear philosophers, let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a “pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject;” let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as “pure reason,” “absolute spirituality,” “knowledge in itself”: these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective “knowing”; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we observe one thing, the more complete will our “concept” of this thing, our “objectivity,” be.
Within a few years, the “objectivity” of my adolescent black-and-white worldview was gone, replaced by an amorphous gray smudge. Who knew one word could be so incredibly powerful?
Through this blog, I will attempt to capture what it means to be “me”. I will document the endless exploration of my perspective and the perspectives of those around me, with topics as varied as my interests: movie and restaurant reviews, design news, outdoorsy-type stuff, Packers rants, political opinions, fiction, poetry, essays, photography, catchy tunes, life happenings, and maybe even a guest blogger or two. I welcome your comments, opinions, questions, and constructive criticisms; share your own personal perspective, and together we will create a collective dialogue capturing the beauty and complexity of our existence.
Or, we could just have some fun and see where it takes us.