Perspective in P.o.P. and Flight Paths

The perspectives showcased in both People of Paper and Flight Paths shows how truly limited the human perspective is. One of the eeriest moments of my life–and I’ll never forget this–was this sudden enrapturing thought I had while I was in high school that I wil alwaysalwaysalways be me, looking out from these very eyes, and there is nothing I can do to change that. I am forever trapped in this corporeal state and can never truly take the vantage point of any other living creature besides myself. It scared the hell out of me when I first thought about, and it still gives me a sort of sense of desperation…I could surely use a moment to step outside of myself now and then–a sort of break from being ME– but it will nevernever come.

I suppose literature, film, all art, really, is a sort of self-escapism. One is able to take on the perspective and character of another (albeit potentially make-believe) soul. We find similarities in a character that resonate and relate to our own habits; perhaps we dislike them because their values are so different from our own. Or maybe we value the villian because it is such an escape into a consciousness so different from our own (or an escape into our subconscious, it could be argued). Anyhoo, in our own lives we are given one path, one limited view to observe from. In art we are given a wholly different perspective, or perhaps multiple ones.

The facet of multiple perspectives is the foundation of much of Plascencia’s method of storytelling. Flight Paths’ final chapter also follows a similar design. Plascencia is restricted to a sort of short anecdotes, told in a verbatim fashion regarding oft-similar events. It gives the story a nice round-about feel to it, as if you, as the reader, are slowly constructing the entirety of the scene through these multiple perspectives being piled atop one another. In Flight Paths it is a more simultaneous aesthetic, mostly due to the median (however its not so different than a sort of dialogue; perhaps its  that perfectly blue sky and eerie woooooshing noise that intensifies the event).

In either case, we again see the pursuit of a oneness, of capturing one event through several different perspectives. I find it to be a perfectly human instinct here. It’s not even a new technique, by any regard–simply an enhancement of an omniscient narration.

Both works, People of Paper, especially, are sharp in this regard, as we are not just given all the players’ thoughts, but actually read them telling the story. So each story is given multiple angles, not just a sort of conscious update through one narrator; each character is supposedly his or her own narrator.

But some characters are not granted this right (full disclosure: I’ve only read 100 pages thus far). In fact their tales are told in a rather traditional 3rd person by a rather traditional omniscient narrator. What does this shift amount to? Well, it certainly adds a type of distance to these characters. The most important change that we see, in the case of Plascencia’s book, specifically, is that these characters (thus far it’s been Apolonio, Ramon Baretto and Santos) lose their own voice and, apparently, control over their fate (Santos especially). It is very much the same war that Federico de la Fe is fighting and leaves the reader questioning who is narrating those parts. Curious to see where this goes throughout the rest of the story…—-can we see all at once? And can we ever escape ourselves?

Steve Whisler


~ by PDG on March 29, 2010.

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