Perspectives on Reality

What you see and hear is filtered through who you are. Each person has a different perspective. Your perspective can be influenced by the physical environment: where you are standing, the weather, or the time of day. It can also be influenced by one’s mood, by cultural filters, or by past experiences. When you understand what you think and feel and even see and hear is impacted by human experiences, you begin to understand how difficult it is to arrive at pure fact. Technology has an opportunity to impact human ways of knowing, thinking, and expressing.

In this Discussion you will experience the same story in multiple formats: the written word, the spoken word, and video. When you begin to add photos or manipulate images, is this changing your experience or enhancing or distorting your reality? Reference content from Week 3 Notes and Readings in your Discussion post.

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Graphic Credit:Microsoft Corporation. (Producer). MP900302922 [photo of business people and shadows]. Retrieved February 6, 2014 from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=see&ex=1%20-%20ai:MP900302922|#ai:MP900302922|

To prepare for the Discussion:

Return to Week 3 Notes and Readings and review Saki’s The Open Window (written and audio), Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman? (speech and performance interpretation), and the two forms of the Omayra Sanchez story (written and written with pictures).

  • Think about your reaction to the different forms of each resource and what it might mean for you as a learner.
  • Consider how humans use their perspective to understand new experiences by imagining details of a story.
  • Since technology has made it easier to share visual versions, does that impact our need to “see to believe” or influence how easily we understand without a visual?
  • Have you ever had the experience of being given false information about a new situation?  Or changing your mind about something with growing evidence?
  • Prompt A

    Consider the imagery you created in your mind as you interacted with the written version of The Open Window.  Describe this imagery and discuss whether it helped you understand the story. Did the imagery or imagined tone change when you listened to the audio?  How? Which medium did you enjoy the most?

    Now, do the same exercise with Sojourner Truth’s speech in text and as interpreted by Cicely Tyson in video form. Which medium did you prefer and why?

    Comparing the forms you preferred in each case, what might that tell you about how you learn?How is a story, a painting, or a song a kind of virtual reality?

    The Open Window
    by Saki (H.H. Munro)

    MY AUNT will be down presently, Mr Nuttel,’ said a self-possessed young lady of
    fifteen. ‘In the meantime, you must put up with me.’
    Framton Nuttel tried to make pleasant conversation while waiting for the Aunt.
    Privately, he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits on total strangers
    would help the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing in this rural
    retreat.
    ‘I’ll just give you letters to all the people I know there,’ his sister had said.
    ‘Otherwise you’ll bury yourself and not speak to a soul and your nerves will be worse
    than ever from moping.’
    ‘Do you know many people around here?’ asked the niece.
    ‘Hardly a soul. My sister gave me letters of introduction to some people here.’
    ‘Then you know practically nothing about my Aunt?’ continued the self-possessed
    young lady.
    ‘Only her name and address,’ admitted the caller.
    ‘Her great tragedy happened just three years ago,’ said the child.
    ‘Her tragedy?’ asked Framton. Somehow, in this restful spot, tragedies seemed
    out of place.
    ‘You may wonder why we keep that window open so late in the year,’ said the
    niece, indicating a large French window that opened on a lawn. ‘Out through that
    window, three years ago to a day, her husband and her two young brothers went off for
    their day’s shooting. In crossing the moor, they were engulfed in a treacherous bog.
    Their bodies were never recovered.’
    Here the child’s voice faltered. ‘Poor Aunt always thinks that they’ll come back
    someday, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in the
    window. That is why it is kept open every evening till dusk. She has often told me how
    they went out, her husband with his white waterproof coat over his arm. You know,
    sometimes on still evenings like this I get a creepy feeling that they will all walk in
    through that window —’
    She broke off with a little shudder. It was a relief to Framton when the aunt
    bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for keeping him waiting.
    ‘I hope you don’t mind the open window,’ she said. ‘My husband and brothers will
    be home directly from shooting and they always come in this way.’
    She rattled on cheerfully about the prospects for duck shooting in the winter.
    Framton made a desperate effort to turn the talk to a less ghastly topic, conscious that
    his hostess was giving him only a fragment of her attention, and that her eyes were
    constantly straying past him to the open window. It was certainly an unfortunate
    coincidence that he should have paid his visit on this tragic anniversary.
    ‘The doctors ordered me a complete rest from mental excitement and physical
    exercise,’ announced Framton, who imagined that everyone — even a complete
    stranger — was interested in his illness.
    ‘Oh?’ said Mrs Sappleton, vaguely. Then she suddenly brightened into attention
    — but not to what Framton was saying.
    ‘Here they are at last!’ she cried. ‘In time for tea, and muddy up to the eyes.’
    Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to
    convey sympathetic understanding. The child was staring through the open window
    with dazed horror in her eyes. Framton swung round and looked in the same direction.

    In the deepening twilight three figures were walking noiselessly across the lawn,
    a tired brown spaniel close at their heels. They all carried guns, and one had a white
    coat over his shoulders.
    Framton grabbed his stick; the hall door and the gravel drive were dimly noted
    stages in his headlong retreat.
    ‘Here we are, my dear,’ said the bearer of the white mackintosh. ‘Who was that
    who bolted out as we came up?’
    ‘An extraordinary man, a Mr Nuttel,’ said Mrs Sappleton, ‘who could only talk
    about his illness, and dashed off without a word of apology when you arrived. One
    would think he had seen a ghost.’
    ‘I expect it was the spaniel,’ said the niece calmly. He told me he had a horror of
    dogs. He was once hunted into a cemetery on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of
    stray dogs and had to spend the night in a newly-dug grave with the creatures
    snarling and foaming above him. Enough to make anyone lose his nerve.’

    (from the book ‘The Short Stories of Saki’ © 1930, The Viking Press)

    Questions

    1. What is the problem with Framton Nuttel?

    2. What is it about Mrs Sappleton’s niece that causes Framton additional distress?

    3. Describe in your own words what happens from the time Framton comes into the

    Sappleton household, with particular attention to why things happen as they do.

    4. What is the climax (or high point) of the story, and at what point do we

    understand what the niece is really like?

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