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On truth...again

froggies315's picture

Adaptation was entertaining.  Mostly, it seemed like a cautionary tale about the perils of telling other people’s stories, of what can happen when someone becomes so obsessed with telling a story that he becomes part of that story and truth and reality bend and everything is confusing and unclear.  In this way, I think this movie fits nicely with a lot of the conversations we’ve had in class.  Here’s something that I read this morning that I liked because it offers another way to think about how we tell and share stories:

...these complex, intractable and perhaps, ultimately, unanswerable questions how all of us, in a world which seems increasingly to challenge our sense of identity and the stories we tell about ourselves, try and make sense of our lives...It would be quite wrong, though, to believe that a tumultuous history has finally dwindled to a post-modern conundrum.--from The Earth Shall Weep: a History of Native America by John Wilson.

When I read this, a little ding when off in my brain.  I thought: “this dude is onto something, subjectivity is for the masses!”  Then I laughed at myself because I realized that I believe in two things that conflict directly with each other: (1) facts are subjective; (2) facts aren’t subjective. We’ve learned this semester that truth and certainty are nebulous, irritating little things, but we live in a world where we actually, really do, truly exist.  We matter.  What’s a girl to do?  It's baisically the end of the semester, so now seems like the appropriate time to ask questions about what are we going to do with all the contradictory stuff we've learned this semester.  Write it off as a post-modern conundrum?  Tempting...  


kobieta's picture

And the point is...

I agree with you, KT, in that I too thought I hada firm grasp on what my opinions are, but soon, discussions and others' opinions influenced my own. It is extremely hard and difficult to change opinions, because it asks us to get out of our comfort zone and challenge a lot of what we believe in, but in the end, that's still progress. Even if it's conflicting opinions like Froggies' thoughts, it really doesn't matter. The whole point is not to sway us in one direction, but to get us thinking, and not merely accepting everything that's thrown our way. Contradictions are fine, because life never makes sense, only fiction does. By that I mean that when fiction plots are constructed, every last bit of detail makes sense; there is an explanation for everything. That's not how life is, though. There are things that never make sense, unions that are naturally contradictory (magnets and the way opposites attract, me and my twin), but we just accept them and move on. The idea isn't to establish one opinion but to make a habit of constantly questioning and challenging. One of the things we first discussed were the differences between science and humanities. It was also the first thing I discussed in my intro bio labs during the first semester with Wil Franklin. I've come to conclude that there is no difference, because just as Wil encourages us to "develop questions, design methods to answer those questions, collect and analyzing observations and develop evidence based explanations," so too has this course.
froggies315's picture

Learning how to think well is

Learning how to think well is really important, and our conversations this semester have pushed me to think in new ways.  I feel lucky to have been a part of all the thinking that we’ve done together.  What I’m asking for help with is: what are we going to do? The point of questioning is not to make it so that we can think more, or so that we can develop "evidenced based explanations."  The point of thinking and learning is to figure out ways to do things that are useful.  What are we going to do that is useful?  This is sort of a terrifying question.

sterrab's picture

Originality within a genre

kobieta, I myself experienced Wil Franklin's intro bio lab where I was pushed to challenge what I have constructed in my mind about science and examine the thin line between humanities and the sciences. In many ways, this course has pushed me to not challenge, for I have not had any experience in the field prior to it, but finally explore first-hand what is meant by humanities,  sciences that open a distinct gateway for human communication. But more specifically, I have learned the distinctions between genres as well as the thin walls that separate them all. As KT mentioned, a memoir is not only a memoir but falls within several genres depending on how it is presented and what the reader makes of the message.
As Donald Kauffman heads home from a screenwriting workshop, he tells his brother Charlie something along these lines : We all write within a genre...[but] we need to find originality within [that] genre.
I found this quote from Adaptation to be interesting to our class discussion on genre. Genres are meant to categorize a piece of work for the public. Even if we have agreed in class that any work may fall across genres, anything will remain advertised under one genre specification. It is the writer's goal to bend the rules that are set within a genre and make something exceptional and outstanding out of it.

KT's picture

Truth In the Post Literary Kinds World

I’ve been thinking about this question too… where do we go from here, how will our discussions impact how I approach life’s categories in the future?  I want to lean towards staying with what I already (thought I) knew coming in (ex. facts exist, they are separate from fiction and I have a firm grasp on what constitutes each).  But this inclination exists because it’s just easier in life to not make changes… to stick with your routine thoughts.  However, the questions that we’ve pondered can’t be undone.  When I see that a book is a memoir, I will always think to myself, “ok, but what else is it?”  When someone quotes something I will always question whether it is factual… and what constitutes a fact.  Essentially, life will be tough from here on out, more questions and more uncertainties, but on the positive side, more depth and development too.