Heckling did you say? Well it depends whether u r the bandit, widow, samurai, woodcutter or medium.

September 30, 2014

What really transpired in Hong Lim Park. No! I am not asking you what you read recently in the beloved daily rag. Or even what you understand it to be from watching grainy Youtube vids. To the perceptive reader…you probably realize the first sentence is missing a question mark – that’s because I am not asking a question as much as posing an open ended statement.

To put it another way. I am simply suggesting the notion that the ‘truth’ as you understand it to be may well be an abstraction. An understanding of sorts that has nothing whatsoever to do with truth as you know it to be.

Did I manage to confuse you along with myself? If I did. Do kindly move on to the next excellent blog elsewhere. Still here? Then read on….

Strange don’t you think so that I should even take issue with the whole idea of the truth?

Or maybe not…..

After all. I am often reminded the retelling of a tale or for that matter any tale is hardly objective business. Often what’s usually recounted…depicted…and splayed out to be the unvarnished facts….the truth is so conflictual, they have nothing whatsoever to do with any objective reality.

We only assume they reflect truth. But at best they represent only a vignette of what really transpired – many a time, what’s usually touted as the truth and nothing but the truth is embellished, exaggerated, lied to satisfy certain needs. All worldly wise people know of this ‘failing’ that accompanies any such ‘truths.’ Yes, often the truth is matter of faith with its own special axes to grind. Those who are less willing to question the truth. Do not know of this. It doesn’t mean they see the world clearer than all of us – it just means. They much prefer to less skeptical of how any depiction of the truth is at best a product of vantage (depending on which camp you belong too) and conscious bias serving specious ends.

Experience informs me, the truth. For what it’s worth. Is often to be found somewhere between that grey area that I call the discomfort zone…that no man’s land of true and false meshed in the barbed wire of imprecision…sketchiness…paucity of evidence.

True, in that they present an accurate portrait of what actually transpired. Or at least what the witnesses believed the saw, heard and experienced. False, only because a failing common to all humans is their tragic inability to be totally honest about themselves. They cannot talk about the truth without embellishing it.

They cannot….


‘Rashoman. Akira kurosawa’s film noir is perhaps one of the most powerful movies that transformed the way I saw the whole idea of the truth and the anatomy of the female form. Till then, my understanding of the truth was so open minded my brains were literally spilling out. I didn’t really question the whole idea of the truth. Didn’t need too. Most of the time, I just took and ran with it. But that all eventually changed.

Paradoxically the reason why I felt the need to ferret out the truth about the truth back then was because I was dating this Swedish girl who was studying film history. And to impress her. I would hold myself out to be a cognoscenti of sorts. A flanuer. A film critic who specialized in esoteric works by kooky directors who filmed time lapsed movies of rotting veggies etc. So we would go to the Everyman theater in hampstead Heath and watch loads of film noire along with do other unmentionable things in the darkened corners.

Eventually Eva. That her name found out I was phoney and provably more interested in her tits than her brains and promptly dumped me…..well that’s the truth and as they say…nothing but the truth. But the strange thing about dabbling with the truth is – it’s a bit like one of those Indiana Jones adventures where you discover some parchment with Latin printed on it. You follow it and eventually it leads to another room and so on and so forth. And what I eventually discovered was how tawdry many of our assumptions concerning the truth can be. How crumbly even the idea of the truth can be.

I guess someday I would probably write a whole disquisition about what I really think about how shambolic the depicted truth is in general. Or how it so often misleads, misdirects and serves it’s own specious ends….but my feel is, this is really a topic that everyone owes it to themselves to take the initiative to peer deeper into to gain wisdom on.

Now let’s dive in Rashoman and the movie.

The story opens with a priest, a woodcutter, and a peasant taking refuge from a downpour beneath a ruined gate in 12th-century Japan.

The priest and the woodcutter, each looking stricken by the perpetual downpour. Eventually settle on discussing a hot topic that has griped their kampung – the trial of a notorious bandit who is accused of rape and murder.

As the retelling of the trial unfolds, the participants in the crime — the bandit, the rape victim, and even the murdered man testimony retold thru a medium — tell their plausible though completely incompatible versions of the story.

In the bandit’s version, he and the man wage a spirited duel after the rape, resulting in the man’s death. In the woman’s testimony, she is spurned by her husband after being raped. Hysterical with grief, she kills him. In the man’s version, speaking through the lips of a medium, the bandit beseeches the woman after the rape to go away with him. She insists that the bandit kill her husband first, which angers the bandit. He spurns her and leaves. The man kills himself. Seized with guilt, the woodcutter admits to the shocked priest and the commoner that he too witnessed the crime. His version is equally feasible, although his veracity is questioned when it is revealed that he stole a dagger from the crime scene.

Just as all seems bleak and hopeless and the truth no where in sight – an abandoned baby cries. This fills the woodcutter with an indescribable mix of grief and guilt. As if to redeem himself for stealing the dagger of the deceased before all humanity and the priest, the wood cutter adopts the infant…confirming that even his seemingly objective account of what transpired in the woods that fateful day may well have been nothing more than a self serving lie.

Everyone it seems lies. As for the truth. That could well be a sort of lie as well.

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