Well we will just have to disagree on that one. Anytime you have a very organized thought system, I’d argue control factors into pretty heavily. Science even has a whole branch devoted to “controls.” I know you’re probably thinking, but that’s an entirely different definition of “control.” But is it really? I don’t really think so, but with this we bump up against the limits of language once again.
When you are exploring such vast concepts as truth, science, religion, God, spirituality…you are going to bump up against the limitations of language time and time again.
But let’s take the concept of truth…one of my favorite quotes about truth, comes from the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but OMG, I love it!!!! So, In this film, Pilate, in his adjudication of Jesus’s crimes asks Jesus, (because Jesus said, he stood for truth) “What is truth? Truth is everchanging law. We both have truths, are mine the same as yours?”
There is this old Japanese film, that I recommend to everyone, called Rashomon. It’s pretty famous and gets taught in so many types of classes: History, film, English, philosophy, psychology…probably not Math or Science. But the film presents the idea (among other things) that there is no objective truth…not when you are dealing with humans, anyway!
It’s like the wave and the particle…the truth seems to be based on the experiencer, and what they perceive. In that film you have four different stories, about a rape or affair and a robbery and a murder. Now the fact that these stories differ, is not that surprising, because of course people are different, they observe different things. But these stories are all totally different! To the point where it’s obvious someone has to be lying!!! The one undisputed fact is that a man is dead…but three different versions of how he was killed!
The robber claims that he killed the man, the man claims he killed himself, (I know you’re thinking how is that even possible?You would have to see the film.) His wife implies that she killed him! But it’s just an implication, a pretty damning implication (I was in a trance walking toward him with a knife…when I passed out…when I awoke he was dead, with my knife in his chest.) Say what now????
Most Americans who watch this film are just perplexed! Because from our cultural standpoint, the stories just make no sense! Why would people claim to have murdered the man, if they hadn’t done so? Why would the man claim to have killed him self if he hadn’t done so? Well that begins to make sense when you understand the cultural component of honor, and the fact that, when you lose it, if you happen to be living in the 14th century in Japan, you’re supposed to kill your self. Also if your spouse loses honor, you are supposed to kill them as well.
But anyway, in this film, it is so hard to even begin to figure out what the truth really is! Everyone has their own agenda of trying to protect their honor…or for the robber, since he has none, reputation. But was the woman raped by the robber or did she seduce him and cause her husband to get robbed? People see such different things! Some people definitely think she was raped, and there is no convincing them otherwise. (These people are usually either female or African.) Some people think she was a seductress, and there is no convincing them otherwise (these people are usually male or Asian).
I have taught this film in class many times, and I can honestly say, after several viewings, I just don’t know! It’s really difficult to say, what really happened! You have four different stories, told from different points in time, from different perspectives! All the story-tellers give you bits and pieces, so to try to construct an objective truth is nearly impossible. Most Americans see it this way. If you ask an American what really happened, most will say, it’s impossible to tell. Then, I ask you, why are Africans so certain that the woman was raped? Why are Asians so certain she was a seductress?
It would appear that the reason is cultural differences. So, this is why we have the whole Trump effect! It’s much like the Rashomon effect! Google it, it’s a thing.
We Call it the Rashomon Effect
The classic Kurosawa film deals with the nature of truth... how the same events can be viewed in completely different…
Today in America, due to cultural reasons, fears, deeply ingrained political and religious beliefs, as well as moral beliefs there are deep divisions and splits around the the truth around Trump.
Some people truly believe he is the second coming! There is no convincing them otherwise. People have actually compared him to Jesus. What can they possibly be thinking? I would say, much like the characters in the film Rashomon, they are telling themselves the story they want to hear. They are filtering out negative information on Trump (completely ignoring it really) while being hyper-focused on the positives about him, which for a lot of Americans is the fact that he is rich, white, male and not really a politician. So they are relying on some real and accurate information to reach their decision about Trump. But at the same time they are ignoring huge pieces of information that people like you and me consider critical.
So take the lady in Rashomon, while she never directly says she was raped, she implies it. She says that both she and her husband were dishonored and that they both had to kill them selves, but her husband refused to kill her, and just looked at her, in a way that was unbearable. Next thing she knows, she’s walking toward him, knife in hand…yeah…that story sounds quite suspect.
But…in a way…a metaphorical way…it’s kind of true. What seemed to have actually happened, (the most reliable version of the story seems to come from a third party observer) is the robber raped the woman in front of her husband; and this led to a sword fight between the robber and the husband, that was instigated by the woman!
(So essentially, she was responsible for the death of her husband, just not in the way she implied at all!)
But what if she really couldn’t remember what happened? What if in her mind, the story she told WAS the truth? Her truth, at least.
Because if she really was raped, (and I think that she was, but what the robber and the husband both seem to think, is that she somehow encouraged the robber to do it, and was therefore at fault for it) she could have become so traumatized that she could not remember events correctly. So she makes them up, to save face. There is evidence that suggests rape victims actually cannot remember what has happened to them all that clearly because of trauma.
But both the husband and the robber seem to think she enjoyed the sexual act. But the thing is, if you are being raped (in front of someone else no less) what is an appropriate way to respond? If you felt like responding positively would save your life, wouldn’t you do it? If someone beats you into submission, which the robber claimed he did, wouldn’t giving in make sense? At that point, there is just no telling (at least not in my mind) how someone should respond to this.
After the rape, the robber asks the husband: “what should I do with your wife? Do you want me to kill her? Or do you want to keep her?”
The husband responds, “please! Kill her! She’s worthless to me now! My horse is worth more than she is!” And he responds this way because he thinks she enjoyed sex with the robber, I guess, that’s his take on it anyway.
Now keep in mind that the husband was tied up and couldn’t do anything to help her, due to his own stupidity of following the robber deep into the woods under the promise that the robber had valuable stolen property to sell him.
The robber says that she tried to fight him off, but the robber just claims this is a form of foreplay and, even though he admits it was his intention to rape the woman (and also admits that this is his thing, and he’s constantly snatching women up and raping them) this woman was different. He could tell that she really wanted it. That’s his story, anyway.
Keep in mind that neither the husband or the robber fully explain this particular conversation. The robber never says that he offered to kill the woman. He does say that the woman demanded that he kill her husband. The robber claims that he didn’t really want to kill the husband, and that the woman pressured him into it, and he went along with it, because she promised to come with him if he killed her husband.
The husband does say that the robber offered to kill the woman, but he doesn’t say that he responded by saying: “kill her! My horse is more valuable to me now!” He completely leaves that part out. All of this is told by a seemingly independent third-part who witnessed the last part of the altercation, though not the rape.
Neither of the men (or the woman) talk about how the woman just goes off on both men, and calls them both pathetic cowards; and tells them both that they have both dishonored her -one with the rape, the other by not protecting her from the rape. She demands that they fight one another to regain the honor they lost through their cowardice, and she will leave with whoever wins the fight, because that’s the man who has regained his honor, and deserves her.
But she doesn’t watch the fight, she runs off, and has no intention of being with either one of them…pretty smart. (But again all this is from a third party who isn’t entirely reliable either!)
One of the main psychological points about Rashomon is that everyone tells a story about themselves, where they paint themselves as they want to be seen. (Psychology studies show this to be true-people automatically do this, all the time. They leave out the behavior that shows them in a bad light, usually and highlight behavior that paints them as they want to be seen. Trump takes this to entirely fantastic levels!)
But back to Rashomon. The husband wants to be seen as an honorable Samurai, so in his story he kills him self (as an honorable Samurai would in that situation) and he paints himself as heartbroken by the wife, never talking about how he compared her to a horse! Or told the robber to kill her.
The robber is obsessed with telling a story about how the woman wanted him so badly and couldn’t resist him, and how he captured and beat and killed the Samurai. He’s the man! In his mind.
The woman’s story has major holes in it. She doesn’t really talk about how she is raped (though she implies it). She doesn’t really say she killed her husband, again she implies it. She claims not to remember much, but knows she has been dishonored, and has tried to kill her self (as required). But she couldn’t find the courage to go through with it. She paints herself as a weak victim of circumstance. She begs the court (where she is telling her story) for mercy. When you first hear her story, you know it’s not the whole story…but you don’t know why. But when you hear the third party story, it’s obvious what she is hiding. Her incentive for telling a totally different story is to be allowed to live. She doesn’t want to kill her self, and she wants the court to acknowledge that she tried to do the right thing according to their culture and customs.
This is crazy confusing right? What is the truth????
All of this is even more deeply confused, by the fact that the third party observer, a woodsman, as this all takes place in a Forrest, is not totally unbiased either. He stole the woman’s dagger, (pulling it out of the dead man’s body) and he didn’t want to be caught for it, so when the authorities questioned him about the murder, he claimed he saw nothing but a dead body. He refused to tell them anything that he saw, so can we really trust him to tell the truth at a later time in the film (which he does, to his associates, only under duress.) Furthermore, no one claimed that the dagger was used to kill the man (except the dead man who claims that he drove it into his own heart and that someone e removed it!) When he says this (through a Medium) the woodsman is very upset by it. So what in the world is really going on???? How did the man die? It is never really clear! Maybe the wife did put her dagger through his heart! The woodsman said the robber killed him, but maybe he said that, because he didn’t want to say, “the wife actually came back and stabbed her husband in the heart, while he was badly injured from the sword fight, she caused…and oh by the way, I stole the dagger she used to kill him.”
All the facts are so muddled by so many different perspectives and agendas, that it’s impossible to know the truth! Just impossible.
That is definitely the case with politics in America right now! Maybe a third party, like John Hopkins could weigh in on the America situation, and give us a more objective view of what’s happening. He has done that, on occasion.
But even he isn’t totally unbiased. Being in the U.K., our politics also affect him, not as directly as they affect us, but he’s like the woodsman in Rashomon, he can kind of see the total picture more clearly than we can, but there are still things that he also cannot see, by virtue of being a member of the first world and not the second or third world.
But Trump is the truth for some people. Hillary is the truth for some people. They convince themselves of this, by ignoring huge amounts of information that point to tremendous amounts of deception undertaken by both parties.
People like you and me sift through this information, at least as much as we can get our hands on, and try to construct an absolute truth. But, I am here to tell you, it doesn’t exist! We will never know what is truly going on in our political system. Far too many hidden agendas. Far too many players telling self-serving stories, and milking them for all they are worth.
So I say all of this to say, for humans, I don’t think we can ever reach any sort of objective truth about anything! Not about science, not religion, definitely not politics. Too many agendas, lies, corruption, controls — the levels of deception, the erroneous perception- it’s endless!