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Sudden perspective shifts

The human mind

One of the things that fascinates me and that I continue to try to fully understand is the sudden perspective shift that changes everything. For instance, if you’ve ever read Les Miserables¬†(or seen the musical or a movie of the story, even), you’ll remember the moment when Jean Valjean, an escaped convict, has been caught by the authorities while is was fleeing the home of a bishop who sheltered him and is in possession of valuables he stole from the bishop. The bishop, instead of accusing Valjean, tells the authorities that the stolen goods are gifts, and even adds to them. This utterly unexpected turn changes Valjean’s perspective for the rest of his life–much for the better, I might add.

But Valjean is fictional, and while the example is fascinating, though there’s much to think about in the debate that plays out in the rest of the story (what I read of it–while I know it’s not considered respectable to purposely put aside a classic, Hugo’s novel wanders too much to keep me engaged. He lost me after the whole Napoleon interlude).

Cartoonist Randall Munroe, whose work I often find absolutely brilliant (for instance, see my post on his Zombie Marie Curie comic from about a year ago), recently posted a cartoon that illustrated, literally and dramatically, what a real perspective shift is like, with plenty of dark humor. Here is that comic:

You may be worried to know that this cartoon is based on life, but Munroe, who is usually pretty private, kindly shares with us that “She’s doing well.”

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