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I AM STILL LEARNING

PERSPECTIVISM & RELATIVISM

May 9, 2016

Literature and artwork cohesively come together to give the audience an experience like no other. Both works are able to leave the audience pondering about how it resonates with them. What many people fail to realize, is that what is closest to natural and authentic is what attracts the attention of other individuals the most. In fact, one example that perfectly illustrates how that may be possible is the relationship between the short stories. “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Birthmark,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Additionally, the movie Ex Machina directed by Alex Garland, as well as Jackson Pollock's painting Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) also closely relate to one another. These four works share the common theme of perspectivism and relativism.

 

Jackson Pollock was an abstract expressionist painter. One of his paintings that relates to the stories is called Autumn Rhythm (Number 30). This painting is 105 inches tall and 207 inches wide, it's a non-representational picture because it does not emphasize a point of focus. The painting is hanging on the wall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In order to view the painting for it purpose the viewer has to stand from a certain distance, which is behind the line the museum provided. The purpose is the idea of self-discovery; when the viewer stares at the painting for too long he or she starts to be part of it. The viewer begins to see the painting based on his or her own perspective point of view because the painting is enormous and there's no getting away from it in that moment. It may also be considered controlling because you're not thinking for yourself. From that point, it becomes a distraction. This can relate to “The Yellow Wallpaper” because Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The narrator being controlled by her husband and had to follow certain rules. For example, she said, “He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him if he took another. He is very careful and loving, hardly lets me stir without special direction” (Perkins). John and Autumn Rhythm suggest that it's better if one follows their specific directions. Moral relativism is invading society; it cannot grow well because of what appears to be true in the eyes of others may not be another’s point of view. This can relate to “The Birthmark” Nathaniel Hawthorne. Georgiana was controlled by her husband Aylmer. He talked her into following his direction because of what appeared to be true and perfect to him, which is to take away her birthmark. For example, Aylmer asked his wife, "Has it ever occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?" "No indeed” said she, "to tell you the truth it has been so often called a charm that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so (Hawthorne)." From that he responded to her "ah, upon another face perhaps it might, but never on yours (Hawthorne)." Aylmer only sees her beauty as it is perceived from his perspective, without a common foundation of her truth but his instead.

 

Another idea of perspectivism and relativism that relates to the short stories is the movie “Ex Machina.” The movie is based on a programmer that won a contest, which allowed him to spend a week at a private estate with Nathan Bateman who is a scientist. The winner, Caleb, was chosen for a Turing test, test a robot with artificial intelligence and consciousness. This relates to “The Birthmark” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” because Aylmer, Nathan and John were what appeared to be truth to them. In the movie Nathan said to Caleb, "You're programmed by nature or nurture or both." We as human beings do things based on what we believe to be the truth, because of how each of us developed overtime. Nathan and Aylmer were going against nature because they believed in perfection, which is their own moral relativism. What appeared to be true to them is not what appeared to be true to others.

 

In “The Yellow Wallpaper" society, during that time period expected that man had to be in charge. The reason men assumed such power is because society tolerated that type of behavior. What is accepted by society is what is viewed to be. This is the reason why John took his wife to an excluded area. He is the leader and his wife expected to follow him with his rules. She did not have access to anything. “I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength (Perkins).” This can relate to the movie where “Ava” the artificial intelligent robot, did not have access to anything in the outside world. Her room only had one window. The idea of perspectivism dominates from the male point of view, their actions were not controlling. Their actions were acceptable and appropriate. However, from the female point of view the men were controlling and did not care how the women felt.  

 

Nonetheless these four works of literature ingeniously represented the theme of perspectivism and relativism. The creators have given the audience a new experience in which they gain an understanding of who can command them and what is violation of their identity. There are many instances where individuals are subordinated based on how much power they assume. It is time for people to reclaim their pride and embrace themselves naturally.

 

Work Cited

 

Pollock, Jackson. Autumn Rhythm (Number 30). 1950. Enamel on canvas. Heilbrunn, 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028.

 

 

 

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