In Truth

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Once again, I think I know something about life and decide to write a post about it. As Carlin said, “The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”

(just for the record, yes, that is a screen-shot of me from a movie; a bollywood movie; yes that’s what I just said).

In all of human history, I think there is no greater moral or value than The Truth. It has pushed people towards discovery, obsessed scientists and created social norms now taught to be unchangeable. It has been considered Divine and it has been reviled and twisted by so many that the poor thing sometimes doesn’t want to look in the mirror.

This shall be a long, convoluted post. It might not make sense, but then exploring aspects of human life rarely take a bullet point structure.

I had seen a movie recently, called Life of Pi; now, for those of you who have seen it (And for the others I will just spoil it for you), you know that the premise of the movie is “a story that will make you believe in God”. For me, the ending ruined the whole movie for me. Long story short, the movie is about a journey of a boy with a tiger (and a few animals that die along the way), and it is mystical and beautiful. At the end, however, the boy offers two possible stories: one in which he actually traveled with the tiger, and one in which the animals are simple avatars of different people in his life. The story attempt to make them both equally possible (just like how Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” makes us question whether magic exists or it’s just the little girl imagining things), but in my opinion it failed to create the right balance, and as such, after the “realistic explanation”, it seems clear to me which story is true (unfortunately, not the one with the tiger). Bananas, oh bananas, why don’t you float?

Besides the fact that that makes the entire movie useless, it offers the next teaching: since both stories are “potentially” true, which one would you chose to believe? Obviously you would chose to believe the nicer one, the one with tigers rather than human cruelty, so that’s what you should do with God (since his existence can exist or can not exist in equal measure).

Another movie which I saw shortly after comes, in my mind, to contradict that. The Cloud Atlas put Sonmi 451 in an interview before she is executed. There, the interviewer (forgot what he was called) asks her to say her version of the truth. To which she replies “Truth is singular. Versions of it are mistruths”.

Herein lies the problem that Life of Pi ignores: the importance of the truth and what it is. I, for one, wish to find the truth, not to ignore it and profit from that ignorance. For me, it is an essential question if the tiger was real or not. It is not something I can just say “well, no one knows so I’ll just believe in it”. If I cannot know which is the truth, then I cannot decide which it is. It remains a possibility.

Yet this does not mean I do not believe in things I cannot prove. Or that religion is fake. No, I think some truths are personal. Some truths we find within. But even in this situation, truth must be searched. It must be doubted and verified.

In my experience, truth cannot be buried. It can be stowed away for a while, but eventually it comes to light (like people cheating on you). It is a constant amusement for me to see how humans try, and think, they can so easily hide it. This offers more issues: on the one side, the damage believing mistruths can bring. How others convince themselves that person A likes them or that their relationship is still working. The more you wait, the more the illusion grows roots in you. And when it will shatter, it will damage so much more.

A second problem is the value of truth. It is how society has deemed to believe that one must always tell the truth: if you cheat, you must come clean. If you care about someone, you must tell them the truth. I disagree. I think any moral rule which is black and white is simply so because people wish to have easy decisions. Because they can tell themselves “I had to tell the truth” rather than ponder and agonize which is best.

I always like to quote Oscar Wilde on this; “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Very interesting post, Ioan. I agree that the film version of Life of Pi presents a pseudo-profound ending which is unsatisfactory relative to the rest of the movie. I found the book (at least when I read it back in 2007) to better fulfil the idea of truth being interpretable, twistable, and banana-floatable.

    Hidden truths which reveal themselves at unexpected times are the sharpest blades there are, I think. Thank all of the gods that there is a difference between fiction and lying, and thank all of the gods that there is an Oscar Wilde quote for every given situation in our trivial little lives.

    • Oh why did he die so young? So much wisdom lost.

      True about hidden truths. However, I am paranoid distrustful of humans so I am even prepared for my sister to tell me her only purpose in life is to assassinate me.

      Everything can be a lie… everything…

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