Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where Did The Truth Go?

I've been thinking about "the truth" lately.  My rant on reporters started it, then Buffett and Paulson fanned the flames, then Karoli got into the act and before I knew it a full fledged conversation was going on in my head.

R. D. Laing's existential expostulation that your experience of me depends on my experience of you and is dependent upon my experience of myself and it goes on and on and on like this to the point of driving an otherwise sane TBG to flinging the book across his bedroom with a shriek..... but all that aside, the man had a point.  The Big Cuter is fond of reminding me that I only exist as a figment of his imagination, so my tirades and nagging and other despicable behaviors are similarly unreal and therefore able to be ignored.   

While I won't go so far as to think that the rest of you only exist in my mind, it was a loop I ran through my head quite frequently in my youth.  For a long time, my Zaydeh (G'ma's father) sat over my right shoulder.  I could feel him smiling and reassuring me that, "It will all be fine, tateleh."  On the afternoon of her funeral, TBG and I had a wonderful visit with Nannie, while sitting in her old church's parking lot.  The cherry blossoms opened as the sun set.... and that's not supposed to happen.  We looked at each other and shivered at the same moment.  

Now, is that the truth?  Are those experiences real?  Are they facts?

It's not that I have an answer, Dear Readers.  I'm asking.

Faux-psychic experiences aside,  I can bring this conversation into the public realm.  Was the Stimulus Package necessary?  Do school vouchers make a difference?  Is the International Space Station anything more than a very expensive scientific boondoggle?  Do clams have legs?  All except the last (it's an old joke, youngsters) have many truths, many realities, many "of course"'s.  

The problem is that news, which used to be objective (where's Walter Cronkite when we need him?) is now so value laden and ratings driven that the search for truth requires tenacity and thoroughness and a good measure of attitude thrown in. 

During our media-obssession after 9/11, we were rarely un-connected to the news.  After a while, we learned to ignore the first reports on anything, because they were usually corrected/amended/revised/retracted within the hour.  This frenzy to get it fast isn't all that 21st century (has anyone seen Front Page?) but fast takes on a whole new meaning now that everyone has access to everyone else right here right now.  

The West Virginia University shootings?  Cell-camera photos were on the tube within seconds.  They were factual, they were real, they were the truth.... except no one really knew what was happening so was there any truth there at all?

This is where I get hung up on things.  Facts vs truths.  The fact is that I am 5 feet tall.  The truth is that I am not small.  Short, maybe, but not small.  

That's where perspective becomes important.  The border fence is a terrible idea unless you have illegal entrants crossing your property all night, every night, leaving behind trash and ecological devastation.  That's not a perspective I had before I moved 65 miles from that border and met a woman in just that situation.  So, does the fence work?  Trespassers are no longer traipsing through her ranch, so she says "yes".  But 50 miles down the border, those living near the new illegal crossing venue are not so sure.  Perspective.

You cannot expect to judge the validity of what you're being told if you don't listen to the competition, too.  Now, given the fact that most of the competition sounds like screaming idiots (from whichever perspective you're looking at it) and that facts and truths are fungible, it behooves the serious seeker to expose herself to a wide variety of screechers.  Considering the TARP from the information gleaned from the WSJ leads to a different conclusion than the NYTimes provides.  I'm lucky to have TBG around for balance; after 30-some years in the investment banking business he has an insider's perspective and a well-educated man's knowledge of the arcana surrounding the issues.  Amster comes over from time to time to pick his brain and create her own solutions, but "the truth"....... that remains elusive.

I thought that when I became a grown-up somehow, miraculously, everything would become clear.  It's probably a good thing that I didn't know then how screwy it still would seem to me from this end of my life.  Back then, though, I knew that there were real truths. Now, brontosaurus is apatosaurus and Pluto's not a planet and WMD's don't exist even though we went to war over them.

When did truth become this elusive? What was I doing while that was going on?  How did I miss it?
(Try this for more on this subject.)


  1. Ah, but so long as you subscribe to truthiness (, it's still a Brontosaurus, Pluto is still a planet, and you're all figments of my overactive imagination!

  2. Or, Billy, "If it's not a fact, it SHOULD be!"

  3. Wasn't R.D. Laing the guy who argued that mental illness was severely overdiagnosed in this country? Must research. Got a post or two along those lines in the works. Meanwhile, I know what you mean about things being True-ish. Retirement has mostly meant more time to confuse myself with screeches...and I'm very anti-screech-prone in general. Was it the George W. Bush era that ushered in what passes for the news nowadays? God bless NPR.

  4. Nah, Nance, it's been going on forever. I'm going to write on it soonly.

    Yes, Laing was that guy - free the schizophrenics ... don't drug them ... let them be.... in their alternate universe pushing people under on-coming subway cars is the thing to do.... and that's just fine. I can go along with him til "just fine" comes along, y'know?!?!


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