One of my friends got inked recently and now the words “Wahrheit ist Feuer” shine in black curly letters from her forearm. (“Truth is Fire”, in case you were wondering) Now, that’s a statement.
I immediately thought about the process of burning down fields to create some new nutritious earth for next year’s harvest, but I doubt that she had this in mind. Well, my teacher would have been happy though, knowing that I remember some of his teaching. To be honest, if I wouldn’t know her, I probably would not understand why she has got those words stabbed into her skin. I don’t want to analyse her either, all I’m going to say is, that I do believe that “it is her”.
After my rather visual thought of famers and burning fields (it was rather picturesque and colourful), I started thinking about what telling the truth actually means and whether or not I believe that speaking the truth is like burning. In some cases, knowing the bare facts can hurt; in others you might experience a short-term-pain, but no long-term-effects. Does telling the truth mean giving all my secrets away or are secrets and truth two different pairs of shoes? Like military boots and flip flops? But to be honest, I’m not planning on giving you a full insight into my notions for living in harmony (look at those words), unless you are Sigmund Freud. That would have been fun, good old Freud and his ideas of the unconscious – definitely hold a few more ideas to be played with… but enough of the “p” for psychology and more about the “p” for philosophy: Another “old friend” Jacques Derrida and his notion “that undecidability is a component of Western philosophy, but one which philosophy must refuse to recognize – or it will no longer be “philosophy” as we’ve known it. (It’s a “truth we must refuse to believe” …)”[i] Ok, so we know what it is – the truth. And we also know now, that we should decline such truth and believe that it is actually different and “untruthful” or “untrue”. Let’s see: If telling the truth is “the fire”, resulting in burning, then by rejecting the fact that the truth is there, I acknowledge it. I explain “the truth”’s existence with the decline of it’s existence.
Simply put: “the truth”= BLACK and “refusal of existence”= WHITE
There can only be black if there is white. I can only see my own shadow if I am near a light source, the sun or streetlight for example, i.e. there is light. So by saying no, there is no such thing I actually say yes, there is such a thing. If you are in a car or train, you can only feel the effects of breaking if you have been moving before, hence the idea of breaking being negative acceleration.
I do however wonder if this approach applies to hand-in dates or presentations….
Room 101, Monday morning
It is raining outside and the sleepy students sit around a table covered in coffee cups, books and notepads. Student A stands up.
I don’t have anything on me to show you today. But by saying
that I don’t have anything, I am actually saying I have a lot.
Imagine that! …
Another concept: Validation of Ideas. I make something legal or true, but showing how I arrived at my conclusions, the easiest way being, I write it down. Writing confirms. But I can also say it. Legal contracts between a business and their customers don’t have to be written, they can also be verbal. So by saying, I confirm. Our Student A has then actually confirmed and acknowledged the existence of the material twice. It is there because it isn’t actually there, but it is there because there has been a mental process that confirms its (non)existence.
I guess not everyone has to go as far as validating his or her own thoughts or believes into their skin, but that is kind of out of the question anyway. Or is it now….?!?
[i] Collins, J. and Mayblin, B. (2006) Introducing Derrida, Cambridge: Icon Books Ltd.