perspective is like a room.
The best way to understand a perspective, or to become familiar with a room, is to spend a week straight inside that room. Go in, close the door, and don’t come out for days. Totally immerse yourself. Explore every aspect. Let that room become your world.
Stay in the room until you are more or less burned out on it. Once it’s obvious that spending any more time in the room would only mean retracing a circle that’s already been drawn, it’s time to come up for air. It’s time to take a breather, and return to the rest of the world.
Yes, there is an entire world beyond that room. Did you forget this? Upon exiting the room and returning to the wider world, you will feel clean air enter your lungs. You’ll feel relieved and excited. It’s time to live life again.
After you’ve had a few days to recover from being in the room and you get used to being in the world again, you’ll feel ready to start reflecting on your experience of the room. It’s time to examine your experience of the room from outside the room.
What you can do, so you remember what the room is like, is label the door and write up your review of the room on a whiteboard next to the door. Make note of what’s in the room. Comment on what’s great about the room and what’s not so great. Jot down any questions you have of the room and any ways in which you think the room should be explored further. Finally, give the room an overall rating, and decide whether and why you would go back.
Now, to explain the analogy:
The best way to understand a perspective is to get first-hand experience with it. Don’t just remark upon it as an outside observer—actually see the world through that perspective, and get an insider’s understanding of it. If you only explore a perspective from the outside, you’ll always be constrained by how other perspectives view that particular perspective. On the other hand, if you explore a perspective from the inside as well, you will know the deep, experiential truth about it.
A crucial part of exploring a perspective from the inside is entertaining it as though it is 100% true. In order to criticize a particular perspective, you have to step outside of it, and use another perspective to do so. Criticizing is distinct from experiencing. It is impossible to experience a perspective from the inside unless you believe it—and what you believe, you will not criticize. So, in order to fully understand a perspective, you must believe in it for some period of time. In regards to the room, I use the example of one week.
To experience a perspective from the inside, it helps if you stay there until you feel you have explored it thoroughly for the time being. This is what I mean by, “Go in, close the door, and don’t come out for days.” If you want to put in some serious swimming practice this week, you aren’t going to take any days off. Likewise, if you want to seriously understand a perspective, you’re going to stick with it for a period of time. Go hard until the job is done. Rest later.
Once you reach a point of relative exhaustion with a perspective, it’s time to put it down. Take a break and attend to mostly-unrelated things for a few days. Have a bath—you probably need it.
The various experiences you have following your perspective-immersion will help you to reflect on the perspective. You’ll find yourself asking questions and having thoughts related to the perspective as you go about your day.
Once you “leave the room,” it’s time to stop entertaining the perspective as 100% true, and start getting critical. Examine the perspective from other perspectives—that is, from the outside. Through your thoughts and experiences during this time of examination, it will become clear which aspects of the perspective work, and which ones don’t.
All perspectives have their valid points. During your time of reflection, you’ll see the reasoning behind certain aspects of a perspective. You’ll find that, while those reasons are valid, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a given perspective is the best one to use for a certain aspect of life. When that happens, you will instead draw other ideas or lessons from the perspective: in this case, the value of the perspective is indirect, rather than direct.
Right now I’m taking a break from the perspective of the political far right. For five days, I spent multiple hours per day researching this perspective. By the end of the second day I was pulled in enough that I took the perspective for granted: I was in the room with the door shut, to allude to the analogy. When not actively reading, I used the perspective to evaluate my life and the world. For a few days, it became the lens through which I saw all things.
One aspect of this perspective is strict, traditional gender roles. The basic premise is that men and women should have clearly defined roles which are completely distinct from one another. The point is to be realistic about the differences between men and women, and to capitalize on those differences. This way, a man and a woman can work together, as a couple, to ultimately accomplish more than they would by trying to do a little bit of everything on their own. This is also the basic premise of domination-submission.
Since taking a breather from this perspective, I’ve had to have my car checked for problems it’s been having. While I was doing that, the perspective snuck into my mind. In a traditional world, because I’m a woman, these men probably wouldn’t bother explaining to me how my car works and what’s wrong with it. Hell, I might not even be allowed to drive, let alone go in the garage and look underneath the car. And there’s no way anyone would let me fill my own tires (not that that’s a very radical thing).
Another thing that has happened, is the hot water system in my house busted. While attending to that, the far-right perspective kept cropping up. I evaluated each task I did in terms of strict gender roles. While wiping up water I thought, Hm, I suppose this is something a woman would do in this situation. While pushing around heavy objects I thought, This is a man’s job. Maybe it would be more respectful to let a man do it, so he can have the joy of helping a weak little woman like myself. Then I can turn around and make him a sandwich in thanks. Hm…
At this point, I do see the value in such a perspective. Having strict gender roles makes sense for the sake of effectiveness. However, there are also shortcomings. One shortcoming is what happens if a man and a woman split up or otherwise lose one another. If that happens, you get a man who can’t cook his own meals, and a woman who has little ability to make money. When you prevent men and women from doing what the other gender is “supposed” to do, you create a system that has no failsafe.
Another shortcoming of strict gender roles is that it’s tedious as all hell. My life is far greater than a collection of nit-picks. Being paranoid about my every action and wondering whether it’s a man’s job or a woman’s is worse than ineffective: it’s just stupid.
Besides—how can either side know what tasks they’re capable of unless they actually let themselves do those tasks? No one knew women could run marathons until a woman stepped up and actually did it.
That being said, I wouldn’t be aware of that particular shortcoming of this perspective (i.e. constant nit-picking) if I hadn’t explored this perspective from the inside, because I never would have experienced that shortcoming. So, exploring perspectives from the inside is important because it makes clear what works about the perspective and what doesn’t.
There are things I’ve learned indirectly from the perspective, too. Some people on the far right (mostly men, of course) believe that women’s right to vote should be revoked because women are more likely to lean to the left: for instance, because women have a “maternal instinct” they try to indirectly take care of everyone, such as by supporting open borders and welfare programs. Women are also more apt to fear things like free speech and the right to bear arms. It’s no coincidence that modern feminism advocates open borders and government welfare programs, while it opposes the first and second amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Sure, one way to solve the problem of women voting “badly” is by forcing change collectively (i.e. on everyone, via law). The other solution, though, is women thinking for themselves. This is an opposite approach to the problem, because it entails choosing change individually.
I understand the far right’s perspective on this problem, because forcing change collectively would bring about a solution quickly and without question. The second solution is harder because it requires many people to choose, and you can count on the majority of people to maintain the status quo (in other words, to barely choose at all). I can count on myself to upgrade my knowledge and think critically, and the far right may commend me for that, but that isn’t enough. That doesn’t account for all the other women out there. To stick to solution #2, I can do my best to share my political ideas and encourage critical thought, and hope that this message reaches other women. Perhaps I’m doing that right now. Hm!
So, the value I’ve gotten from studying the far right’s perspective includes that I’ve become more aware of problems involved with women voting; and, consequently, I’ve considered possible solutions to that problem. Considering those solutions in turn has led me to consider what kinds of upgrades I could make to my own self, such as improving upon my understanding of politics.
At this time, I’m in the process of “filling out the white board” next to the far right’s door. I expect to return to the far-right room in due time, when I’m ready—likely after studying other political perspectives (which includes some of the work of the Founding Fathers of America). Re-visiting the far-right room after exploring other rooms will give me an updated, more comprehensive view of the far-right room.
The Kingdom of Rooms
Just as the wider world is more expansive than a room, consciousness is more powerful than ideas. We can talk all day about how great a certain room in a house is, but it will always pale in comparison to the Earth as a whole. How could a closed structure of metal and wood match up to the entire Earth?
Similarly, ideas are no more than individual thoughts—collections of words, images, and concepts, if you want to be reductionist. Consciousness encompasses all ideas, but a given idea doesn’t necessarily account for consciousness.
In order to be perfect, an idea would have to account for all other ideas as well as the complete potential of consciousness. If perfect ideas exist, they are rare.
No matter how sucked into a particular system of ideas you may get, you always have the power to leave the room. The wider world represents consciousness itself. If you lock yourself in a room for a long time, you may forget about the wider world. That’s why you have to come up for air periodically: to remember what really is, and to remember who you really are.
Critical examination of a perspective begins when you walk out of a room and return to the wider world—that is, when you step outside of that perspective and remember that you are first and foremost a conscious being. It is for this reason that, while I understand the views of the far right, I ultimately cannot accept them as optimal (at least, not on the particular issue of women). I am simply too invested in the power of consciousness. Why shouldn’t I be? After all, that is what I am. I’m glad the far-right viewpoint exists to help point out people’s general shortcomings and tendencies (including my own); but, rather than accept this viewpoint’s solutions, I will apply my own solutions to those problems. Those solutions entail going beyond general shortcomings and tendencies, to instead live, think, and behave in a manner that is the result of my own volition. I advocate this solution because that is what I’m here to do—to experience life deliberately, rather than blindly attempt to follow others’ instructions (different people’s instructions conflict with one another anyway). If I was here to merely be a good sheep, I would have opted out of Earth long ago.
Reality is a kingdom filled with rooms. The more rooms you explore, the more comprehensive your understanding of reality is. It is best to have both breadth and depth—to explore rooms thoroughly, while also exploring as many rooms as you can. Reflecting on and leaving a review of each room builds upon your accumulated understanding-- an understanding which you can then use in your examination of subsequent rooms.
Some rooms will need periodic re-visiting. Some will require an extended stay, while others can be explored within a day. Certain rooms are bound to become your favorites. Others you may eventually vow to enter never again, letting your notes on the room suffice (for me this is the case with Marxism and hypersexuality, among other things). But, no matter what, what really matters in the end is you, and your relationship to the wider world. That’s what the rooms are for, after all—affecting your experience of the wider world. Each time you step out of a room, you will see, feel, hear, and even smell the wider world a bit differently than you did previously. Likewise, as a person, you will go about seeing, feeling, hearing, and smelling a bit differently than you did before. You and the wider world change together: you are inextricable from one another. You explore the kingdom, and you are the kingdom—simultaneously.
What unopened doors in your kingdom are begging to be explored? What doors need to be closed and marked off with a “Do Not Enter” sign? What rooms could use re-visiting? Do you return to the wider world often enough, or do you tend to shut yourself into certain rooms and turn the place into a pig-sty?
There are times to constrain yourself to individual rooms, and there are times to be free in the wider world. Know when it is time for each, and you will turn your kingdom- and by extension, your mind- into heaven.