Reality and Truth sample essay
Reality and truth are both so hackneyed in a commonplace manner with over-lapping ideas that they each lose their own individuality. Reality is a subjective value that reflects what characterizes our world, whether it is our individual world or the world as a whole, and its conditions. Oliver Sacks’ “The Mind’s Eye: What the Blind See” and Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story” bring the relationship of truth and reality into question. O’Brien openly uses the thin line between truth and reality to convey the message that truth and reality sustain a close relationship.
Using examples of interpretation, cognition, and communication of a person’s environment, the authors give the reader the idea that truth cannot exist without reality and vise versa. The authors tie truth and reality as interdependent. Interpretation of a certain environment unlocks the truth of the society. One society can create one truth and one reality, whereas another society creates a different reality and truth. O’Brien offers many interpretations of war.
War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead. The truths are contradictory. War is grotesque. But in truth war is also beauty. (394) O’Brien beliefs give an array of meanings of war. He also emphasizes in the end, with the example of interpretations of war, that truth is contradicting. Truth is contradicting because there is more than one truth.
Truths are based a person’s reality, however reality is also based on truth; one cannot survive without the other. In relation with O’Brien and Nafisi, Sacks also offers a truth and reality relationship. In truth, all of Sacks’ correspondents were partially disabled or handicapped. In order for them to feel like they are not disabled, they create imaginations, their own reality, in order to fulfill themselves as regular people in society. “An individual deprived of one form of perception could totally reshape himself to find a new center, a new identity” (Sacks 476).
Even though Sacks says Hull, a man who lost vision in his middle age, describes himself as someone who reshapes himself, all the other patients also reshape themselves in order to live as normal people. They interpret the truth of blindness, and use it to make another reality. In the end, reality becomes truth to the people because becoming a visual person who is blind becomes true in their own world. In all texts, the authors interpret and experience truth and reality simultaneously; one concept cannot be experienced without the dependence of the other.
Through forms of communication, such as language, truth and reality are shown as mutually dependent. In “How to Tell a True War story,” Tim O’Brien recollects his experience of telling the war story and at the end of his storytelling, a woman and always a woman would approach him and tell him she liked the “war” story. In response, he says “I’ll picture Rat Kiley’s face, his grief, and I’ll think, You dumb cooze. Because she wasn’t listening. It wasn’t a war story. It was a love story” (396). Stereotypically, women are seen to be more sensitive than men; however, she did not empathize with him at all.
He also uses the word cooze, like Rat, to show his animosity for her misunderstanding of his story. Through O’Brien, he conveys that her lack of understanding meant that language was limited. She did not understand his reality, only the events of the story because he said it was true and it occurred. For O’Brien, his reality is that the feelings and the understanding portrayed in the war story is the truth, and not the actual events. For this example, O’Brien indicates that truth is dependent on reality. Conversely with O’Brien, Nafisi and Sacks believe that communication can be limitless.
For Sacks, he uses many examples of people who lost one of the five human senses who can communicate with people by amplifying the other senses. For the blind, Sacks emphasizes that they use language as a mediation to communicate. “Blind children, it has often been noted, tend to be precocious verbally, and may develop such fluency in the verbal description of faces and places as to leave others (and perhaps themselves) uncertain as to whether they are actually blind” (483). Sacks expresses that with the art of language, a person who is blind can be equally presented as one who is sighted.
He includes “(and perhaps themselves)” to show that language is so powerful that it gives an alternate reality: that blind people are just as visual as sighted people. However, truth is not realized through this reality as it was through interpretation. In Sacks example, reality is dependent on truth instead, because the alternate reality of “blind people are like sighted people” is false. The reality Sacks conveys is that blind people only use language as a mediator. Cognition, which includes thought and memory, is described by the three authors as an example where the relationship of truth and reality exist in.
Sacks discusses the thought and memories of three people. I have now read three memoirs, strikingly different in their depictions of the visual experience of blinded people: Hull with his acquiescent descent into imageless “deep blindness,” Torey with his “compulsive visualization” and meticulous construction of an internal visual world, and Tenberken with her impulsive, almost novelistic, visual freedom, and specific gift of synesthesia. (481) Here, in Sacks example, reality is dependent of truth because these three people must have been blind before they experience visualization derived from the mind’s eye.
However, the experience each person has is different. They have a reality which becomes true to them, making truth depend on reality. The thoughts of Sacks’ correspondents has given them truth through reality. Like Sacks, O’Brien offers truth-reality association. Rat, who is O’Brien’s friend, refers to the fish as “dead gook fish” (387) and the water buffalo as a VC (Tim O’Brien 393). O’Brien clearly shows the “gook” and the “VC” to show Rat’s thought of the animals; he sees them as the enemy. The truth is that these animals cannot really be the “enemy,” because it would just be an absurdity.
For rat, he calls the water buffalo a “VC” merely because he wants to exert his anger upon the baby water buffalo, which is derived from the death of his friend. By killing the “VC,” Rat was able to alleviate his feelings by creating the reality of killing the “enemy” baby buffalo. He created a reality of killing an enemy, which is developed from the truth of his friend’s death. With the truth of his death, a reality was created to make himself feel better. Truth in turns is also taken from reality because he really sees the animals as an “enemy,” which is a reality that becomes true for him.
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