[ilds] Seeking the Truth

Richard Pine rpinecorfu at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 26 01:01:21 PDT 2010

Brian Friel gives us the following:

He recalls a time when he was 9 years old when he went fishing with his father. 
'There's no doubt in my mind about this - it's here now before my eyes, as I 
speak... That's the memory. That's what happened.' 

But he then realises that he and his father could never have walked along the 
shore of the lake on that day BECAUSE THERE WAS NO LAKE.

'The fact is a fiction. Have I imagined the scene then? Or is it a composite of 
two or three different episodes? The point is -  I don't think it matters. What 
matters is that for some reason this vivid memory is there in the storehouse of 
the mind. For some reason the mind has shuffled the pieces of verifiable truth 
and composed a truth of its own. For me it is a truth. And because I acknowledge 
its particular veracity, it becomes a layer of my subsoil; it becomes part of 

From: William Apt <billyapt at gmail.com>
To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
Sent: Sat, September 25, 2010 8:09:01 PM
Subject: Re: [ilds] Seeking the Truth


I guess the best analogy is found typically in criminal trials. For example, 
witnesses truly believe they saw things they later are surprised to learn they 
did not see:  hence the relativity of truth, which supports LD's thesis.  But 
that does not apply uniformly in life generally. Truth usually can be determined 
objectively and conclusively in most matters:  there are just times, 
however, when we think we know truth, based on our relative 
viewpoints.  Although LD seemed to posit it as a firm principle, his notion of 
truth cannot exist in every situation.  To say that it does would be, as you 
say, poetic nonsense.  I believe, rather, that LD's notion is a valid concept 
applicable under given circumstances, and  do not believe someone like Judt 
could argue with that.  I also don't think that LD believed that truth was 
always relative or illusory.  If he did, then he wouldn't have taken umbrage 
with critics who disparaged his work. Would not their relative viewpoints be as 
based in "truth" as his own? 



On Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 3:50 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net> 

>I agree.  But my question is, did Lawrence Durrell take himself "literally" or 
>seriously when he or his spokesmen commented on the relativity of truth?  I 
>think he did.  Obviously, I cannot speak for Tony Judt, but my guess is that he 
>would have considered Durrell's statements re truth a lot of literary or 
>fashionable nonsense, highly seductive because of the magnificent poetry, but 
>nonsense nonetheless. 
>On Sep 24, 2010, at 1:04 PM, William Apt wrote:
>>If truth is, as LD suggests, illusory, then anything can be justified:  
>>including bad art as good art.  We can't take poets literally about 
>>On Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 1:25 PM, Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net> 
>>Tony Judt recently died (1948-2010).  British born and educated, Judt was a 
>>major historian of modern Europe, in particular the intellectual and political 
>>tradition in post-war France.  He was also Jewish; as a youth he worked in a 
>>kibbutz.  He was an early supporter of the State of Israel and later a strong 
>>critic of the same.  He wrote frequently for The New York Review of Books.  In 
>>the previous issue of NYRB (30 Sept. 2010; link below), Timothy Garton Ash, of 
>>Oxford and Stanford, has written a remembrance of Judt.  One section reads, 
>>"There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of polemical intellectuals.  There are 
>>those for whom the taking of a controversial position is primarily a matter of 
>>personal peacock display, factional or clique, hidden agendas, score-settling, 
>>or serial, knee-jerk revisionism.  Then there are those who, while not without 
>>personal motivations and biases, are fundamentally concerned with seeking the 
>>truth.  Tony Judt was of the latter kind.  Sharp and cutting his pen could be, 
>>but his work was always about seeking the truth as best we can" (p. 6). 
>>>Lawrence Durrell might be called a "polemical intellectual."  In his early 
>>>years, he certainly thought of himself as one, so his 1959 Preface to The Black 
>>>Book testifies:  "a two-fisted attack on literature by an angry young man of the 
>>>thirties" (p. 9; London 1938, 1982).  In view of statements such as "Humility! 
>>> The last trap that awaits the ego in search of absolute truth" (Justine, p. 
>>>242) or "Truth is what most contradicts itself in time" (Balthazar, p. 23), I 
>>>wonder what L. Durrell would have had to say about anyone who devoted his or her 
>>>life to "seeking the truth?"  Wasted?  Mistaken?  Wrongheaded?  Foolhardy?  And 
>>>conversely, what would Judt have thought of LD?  Mistaken?  Wrongheaded?  I 
>>>don't know if TJ read LD, but it seems likely that he did, given the breadth of 
>>>his learning.
>>Attorney at Law
>>7004 Bee Cave Rd, Bldg 1,
>>Ste 205
>>Austin TX 78746
>>512/708-8011 FAX
>ILDS mailing list
>ILDS at lists.uvic.ca

Attorney at Law
7004 Bee Cave Rd, Bldg 1,
Ste 205
Austin TX 78746
512/708-8011 FAX

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.uvic.ca/pipermail/ilds/attachments/20100926/789579a7/attachment.html 

More information about the ILDS mailing list