Wednesday, June 6, 2012
27) Too Terrible for Truth?
"I lied," was Justin's opening gambit, awakening me back in Canada. He was writing of the amount of photos he said he'd taken; the reality of memory. It was, in his succinct way, a summation of several conversations we'd had about the first principal of ethics, do no harm. Truth, as a concrete concept, does not appear in ethics. It is among the reasons some take situational-ethics classes. It is the art of lying on behalf of wanting the best for all, so that we all may live more peaceably. But some truths need telling. Linda, my wife who happens to be a psychologist (or is it the other way round?) picks me up at the airport, 10:30 p.m., or was it 10:33? In the car on the long way home she invites, "Tell me everything. I want all the details. I want all the facts. I read your essays, but I love to listen." Well, Linda my dear may not have said exactly those words, but the gist of what she wanted went something like that. I do plead guilty of misrepresentation. Warming to the memories, I plunge in with a stream of consciousness story summation of my entire trip, as though parsing down these past 27 essays about Oz into but two or so pages. How much do I not indeed thereby leave out, no matter how loquacious I may get? Yet after all is said and done, it's just as my very dear friend, Justin put it: "Thanks for sharing this stream of recollections of what was, and now lives only in memory. It will be processed and adjusted and reprocessed and verified and reprocessed and embodied in the shaping and becoming of each participant. Fact? That which is agreed and verified based on objective evidence. Truth?" Exactly! Indeed! He was there! He should know! Let's take the marmalade jar, for example. (Take it where?) O.K., let's look at the example of the incident with the marmalade jar. M'Lady Nancy (her famous father was Sir A. D. Street!) had only two of her precious home-made jars left. (No, she didn't 'make' the jars!) She knew I liked the thick chunky kind, and she'd kept one back just for me. I had it carefully wrapped in my carry-on bag and from Perth it went with me to Sydney, and travelled with me everywhere, since that bag contained my passport and my camera and my... Well, the jar did not make it past the International check-in when leaving Sydney! Alarm bells went off. Police cruisers and humvees and sniffer dogs and weapons of mass destruction all hovered around my evidently most offensive jam jar. An inspector, blue-gloved, deigned to hold it up in the air for all to see. "What we have here," she announced in a senatorial voice, "is a breach of situational ethics! The entire continent is at risk. What exactly is this? Jam? What? Oh! Mar-ma-lade! (She was beginning to sound like the haughty caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland) What we have hear," she repeated, ensuring she had everyone's focus, "is a failure to communicate!" And then, most horrible of all, she opened up a great green bin like a pirate ship with its emblazoned skull and crossbones, and dumped my precious marmalade jar inside! At least, that's how I choose to tell the tale. The thing is, when hearing this story my wife, who also cares deeply for Nancy's welfare immediately suggested we don't tell her. What harm, her not knowing? I nodded. She'd be so disma... Ha! But now her jam lives on longer, in words! Situational ethics, indeed.