Tracing the Evolution of Point of View
In previous posts, we've looked at the traditional understanding of point of view in story. We've also examined how reader-response theory moved this understanding from a more purely textual study in the direction of the reader's experience. Looking at the reader's experience, we took a Consciousness-Based approach to exploring point of view and examined how the self-referral experience of pure consciousness relates to the inner experience of reading. From this vantage point, we can now turn to understanding that a plurality of viewpoints exists in the experience of reading any story.
A Plurality of Viewpoints
In his Janaury 12, 2014 address, Rajaraam1 traced the mathematical progression of the creation of multiple viewpoints of the Self 2, building on Maharishi’s mathematical progressions of reality that construct the universe. Rajaraam used the metaphor of a beautiful gift box lined with mirrors to explore all the possibilities of an individual's points of view within the Self. In Rajaraam's metaphor, the box represents the Self, or pure consciousness of the individual. The individual enters the empty box by transcending. Once in the box, the individual can look straight ahead or behind, up or down, or side to side—three basic directions, each with two values.
The empty box also has eight corners in addition to the six mirrored walls. In the illustration to the right, the front face of the cube is missing, but one can stand in a corner of the cube and look at seven other corners—eight values altogether if one includes the corner the person is in. So, altogether, there are eight values for each corner and there are eight corners, for a sum of sixty-four perspectives. Each corner, of course, also has the three values mentioned earlier, so sixty-four times three equals one hundred and ninety-two perspectives of the Self3.
This tracing of potential perspectives of the Self does not imply that that there are one hundred and ninety-two perspectives within every story, rather this parallel recognizes the plurality of potentiality for many diverse perspectives in story. The possibility of so many potential perspectives is significant in demonstrating that more than first- and third-person narrative stances potentially can and do exist within story. To experience the wholeness of story, we must, as readers, recognize that the plurality of perspectives is a literary aspect of enormous potential in our experience of the wholeness of the story.
In the next post, we'll consider the self-referral nature of consciousness and the plurality of potential perspectives in Bai Xiao-Yi's story, "The Explosion in the Parlor," to discover where the wholeness of story resides.
1 Maharaja Adhiraj Rajaraam, Maharishi's successor as the leader of the Global Country of World Peace, a country without borders established to support the spread of peace and invincibility around the globe, gives an annual address on January 12 to honor Maharishi's gift of knowledge to the world.
2 When the word Self is capitalized, it refers to pure consciousness rather than just the personal self of the individual.
3 This mathematical progression of perspectives is significant in its parallel to the structure of the unfoldment of creation, delineated by Maharishi in his Apaurusheya Bhashya. In his Apaurusheya Bhashya, Maharishi established the Rig Veda as the Constitution of the Universe, showing how the unfolding of creation is revealed in the opening richas (verses) of this Veda. For further discussion of Apaurusheya Bhashya, please see Celebrating Perfection in Education. Maharishi Vedic University Press, 1997, p. 11.