18 de maio de 2010


One of the biggest mind consuming endeavors of humankind certainly has been figuring out ‘truth’. One method to outline an unknown concept is to define its opposite, the untruth. Maybe because so much has been said about those, they are often taken for granted and generalized as right and wrong. Making a judgment about lies often implies that the “Truth” exists, as in “The ways we lie”, by Stephanie Ericsson. The author situates lies in different environments and classifies them to build an intimate analysis of why lies are told. In the fragmented world of today there is no room for one and only truth, though; there are, instead, individual truths. The idea that lying is bad and truthfulness is good is too shallow and does not get close to depicting global or particular circumstances. Although the essay is thought provoking and brings up a new perspective to looking at lies, it is not deep enough, and it fails because it lacks a prior essential consideration: what is truth.
The same dictionary Ericsson used to define a lie, defines truth as “1. A fact that has been verified;2. Conformity to reality or actuality;3. A true statement” (Webster’s dictionary online ). Taking this as an ‘a priori’ concept would allow lies to be classifiable, but in a time frame that probably would not make a difference to the liar or the lied. Truth can only be reached after its context is completely over; you cannot tell the color of a paper before you look at it, Ericsson argues, though, that the “real truth is in the fine print” (Ericsson, paragraph 36); in other words, that it is hidden by lies. Ironically, there is only one kind of lie in Ericsson’s essay that belongs in this train of thought: the “out-and-out lies”; when the boy says that the murderers broke the fence he is trying to cover the fact that he was the one to blame. All other classifications are drenched in subjectivity, can be seen from other perspectives and are not really trying to hide a truth, but reach to it. “Stereotypes and clichés”, as she admits, have a lot of truth in them, although it is not completely truthful; but it is exactly on stereotypes that the text stands. She undermines her own proposition by using one of her types of lies to convince the reader.
There cannot be pure truth in any form of text. Language, literature, and art can be considered hairy lies. Plato anticipated this (also) contemporary issue when he hypothesized that there is a world of the ideas, which is perfect and where Truth resides, and the material world, where ideas are roughly transformed into matter in a tentative of imitation of heaven that man could never reach. Writing and communicating are an effort to utilizing learned sounds, movements and gestures to interact; it is the subject absorption of subject creation. There is not a verifiable basis; all languages are built on assumptions. This could have been the subject of “Delusion”; language makes reality bearable. She margins this idea when she writes “We don’t want to incorporate that much reality into our lives because to do so would be paralyzing” (Ericsson, paragraph 33), but leaves it afterwards arguing that delusion “acts as an adhesive to keep the status quo intact” (Ericsson, paragraph 34). She does not decide whether it would be right or wrong to lie, but she wants to convince herself it is bad to lie.
Right and Wrong are cultural parameters that have changed throughout history. Even basic social norms that are taken for granted, such as not killing, have been rather normal in the majority of the civilizations. “Ignoring the plain facts” might be the one topic from which Ericsson escapes her goal the most by mistaking what is wrong with what is bad. Ericsson, also, not only looked at a fact after it had happened, but also contaminated it with her personal judgment. What should have been said instead of “the Catholic Church’s conscious covering for Porter” (Ericsson, paragraph 13) was that the Catholic Church had a wrong idea about Porter’s (change of) behavior. Whether it was consciously done or not, only the person who acted can tell. If the pope confessed that he did not want to excommunicate the priest because it would go against a forgiving principle even though he was totally sure Porter would still sodomise kids, Ericsson’s argument would be perfect. The problem with her logic is that such statement was never made to begin with, and even if the Pope went on a speech and said exactly that, there would still be a lot of unknown ways the brain and the human psyche works that might change his answer to the opposite, not to mention hidden reasons that the pope might never be aware of. It was a bad thing (for society, maybe not much for Porter) that the Church did not realize soon enough that the priest had a not socially accepted behavior that needed further treatment. Not much can be said about it being wrong, though. Again, it is all language.
What one feels and thinks are bi-products of the restricted comprehension and absorption of his/her surroundings. There is the uncontested fact: a plane crashed, then there is the speculation: what caused the plane to crash, and finally the unreachable: what did the passengers feel. If in a couple of decades some scientist finds out that a simple procedure can turn cancer cells into brand new organ tissue, cancer might be seen as a blessing, and so might be the idea Ericsson defends by saying that lies are a “social cancer” (Ericsson, paragraph 35). Being human is constantly re-inventing human nature each new second and never fully understanding reality. Lying might actually be the answer to get closer to what is real. If the author had focused in being sincere, it would probably fit her goal better and she would not have to refute the very reason she is able to write.

Essay para English 101.

Nenhum comentário: