Image of the Week: Perspective
A few years ago I made many pictures of things I saw that caught my eye, and being around children a lot facilitated that pursuit. Children share a great deal, and are fascinated by so much in the world around them. The trails we frequented at that time were filled with treasures, and links were often made to other activities we participated in, especially reading.
To my great satisfaction, we happened then to be engaged with Alice in Wonderland, a book I’d delighted in as a child and so pleased the children had chosen. They loved the nonsense verse and silliness inherent in the tale, and we looked for portals to Wonderland as we made our sojourns along the wooded areas the trails typically wound through. Evidence of a rabbit in a waistcoat here, a Cheshire Cat there, and their hushed tones of mystery made me feel so happy. They were so much fun to be with.
The concept of perspective occasionally intruded on our great good times—typical for the age group, though, and we sometimes role played in order to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, to experience the world through the eyes of another. Or, as the case may be, from the height of another.
One of their best discussions came on a day when we read the passage in which Alice encounters the Caterpillar as he perches on his mushroom, smoking a hookah. Alice makes a bit of a faux pas as she unwittingly denigrates the insect’s short stature. He, of course, becomes upset—a scene some of the children re-played from having seen the Disney movie production of Alice in Wonderland—and then they engaged in a swift round of “Oh dear.” It was so funny to watch (and listen) as one by one, sometimes repeatedly, they pronounced what seemed to be Alice’s favorite phrase to worry.
There was a large mushroom growing near [Alice], about the same height as herself, and when she had looked under it, and both sides of it, and behind it, it occurred to her that she might as well look and see what was on top of it.
She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large blue caterpillar, that was sitting on top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or anything else.
“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.
“I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.”
“What do you mean by that?” said the Caterpillar sternly. “Explain yourself.”
“I cannot explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”
“I don’t see,” said the Caterpillar.
“I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,” Alice replied very politely, “for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes a day is very confusing.”
Of course this resulted in much and great play as a swirl of children experimented with and play-acted as different sizes, peering over pretend mushrooms (either imagined from thin air or represented by pillows) and taking turns being stern or polite, polite or stern.
As you might imagine, the children themselves were various sizes and, being children, could well make believe and eagerly embrace it all as the learning experience it was, some even chewing on a bit of philosophy in our later discussions, with regard to who one is being affected by what one is—or how tall they are.
This came after we went looking for pretty leaves and came across the above-pictured mushrooms, which I really liked owing to their color. I also joked about it being set up in a showroom manner, as if they were on display. And, as pointed out by more than one quick-eyed observer, it seemed one mushroom even had a bit taken from it!
We had laughed about it all when I showed them the digital picture, achieved by laying down on the wooded floor and snapping the shutter up close to the object of our observation. They said it looked gigantic to them—it was actually about four inches—and that they’d have to climb up to be able to sit on it, or stand on tiptoe and peer over to see if a caterpillar was perched on top. “Imagine the tiny hookah!” (It seemed quite odd to hear such a small voice saying the word hookah.)
“Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir, if you wouldn’t mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.”
“It is a very good height indeed!” said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).
And so it was that we experimented with the act of observing through someone else’s perspective, while doing same with the art of photography, not to mention looking around for that caterpillar.