A Conversation

Here’s a dialogue I’ve written over a few weeks in a journal for a class. (<– Some beginning, huh?) I tried to create a conversation, and I tried to be fair to both speakers. One of them ended up speaking more; perhaps “he” had more to say. This isn’t supposed to be a perfect representation of the ideas, but a conversation between two persons on their viewpoints. I agree much more with one of them; does that stick out like a sore thumb or is the dialogue fair?


o “That’s the nature of truth. It grows.”
+ “No it doesn’t. It wouldn’t be truth then.”
o “Sure it would! Look. How big is the universe?”
+ “As far as we know, infinite.”
o “But when man was young, was the universe really infinite?”
+ “Yes. Or, at least, as far we know.”
o “No. It wasn’t. You’re looking at truth in too static a fashion. You said, ‘as far as we know.’ That’s how truth works. What we know expands over time. Truth is to be found in what we are aware of – our conscious experience.”
+ “No, truth is absolute. Otherwise it would be false. If is indeed ‘found’ through what we experience, but that’s the point: you only find what’s there to find – it’s absolute. Otherwise it wasn’t found, it was created.”
o “That’s such a narrow mindset.”
+ “It’s a true mindset.”
o “See – there you go again. Your logic is consistent, but it’s so constrained – so limited – so…shut in.”
+ “But what’s the alternative?”
o “To be free. To explore. To create.”
+ “Free of what? I do explore; I explore truth, and I create too.”
o “Free from everything! Why should I subject myself to the doctrines of rigid truth? Your creation is not true creation; it is merely a re-shaping, an affectation, an undulation locked in by your framework.”
+ “That sounds nice, but you don’t live that way. In some ways, it sounds nice, but deep down I’m not sure any of us can believe it. Tell me: is there anything at all in this world you wish was different, that you’re unhappy about?”
o “Of course.”
+ “Well…”
o “Wait. I know where you’re going with this. You’re going to say my truth is useless if I can’t make things be the way I want them to be, but you’re in the same boat. Your claims of narrow truth are just as rigid – entirely more rigid for that matter.”
+ “Well…Hmm…my ideas and beliefs are more rigid, but are our realities different in their ‘rigidness’?”
o “Of course. In your reality, everything is static and ready-made. A giant fact that must be acknowledged. In mine, truth is a mirror, a reflection of our thoughts and experiences. You see true vs. false; I see exploration and growth vs. stagnation.”
+ “Well sure, our ideas about where reality comes from and what it is disagree, but do our practical experiences disagree?”
o “How should I know? I’m not you and you’re not me.”
+ “Alright. What I mean to ask is, does your reality grow according to your ideas, or does reality plod on regardless of your wishes? Practically speaking, do you control your reality?”
o “It’s more complicated than that.”
+ “But, in your reality, what you experience, is there anything you don’t like that happens?”
o “You’re not…”
+ “Yes or no?”
o “You’re trying to…”
+ “Would you please answer the question? Or, is the question too biased for you – you really don’t like my question do you, because it asks a yes-or-no questions, and you don’t believe in yes-or-no’s?”
o “You’re starting to understand now. It’s not yes or no, it’s progressive and enlightened or long-trodden and antiquated.”
+ “And you hold that as true?”
o “I hold it as growing, living, enlightened.”
+ “So you don’t believe your idea is true; you believe it’s modern and relevant. Why are you telling me I’m wrong then (if you don’t believe in false)?”
o “I’m not. I’m telling you your ideas are out-dated and overly confined.”
+ “There. You said it. You said, ‘I’m not.’ That’s a true-vs.-false statement.”
o “Its a limit of language. You need to look beyond the words to the idea.”
+ “So now you’re saying that what you say isn’t really what you mean because language is too confining?”
o “Yes…”
+ “And that ‘yes’ doesn’t mean ‘yes’ in the way I take it but in your sense?”
o “Precisely.”
+ *laughs* “That’s ridiculous.”
o “Only to you – not to me.”
+ “No – to you too. Look: you remember earlier when I was trying to ask you that question you didn’t want to answer? ‘That it was inherently biased’ is what you seemed to claim. Well, that’s my point – reality is inherently biased. Inherently biased is. That’s why we say it is and we don’t say ‘is’ isn’t.”
o “I do though. That’s what you’re missing.”
+ “I’m not missing anything. I’m accepting. I uphold truth. You uphold experience and individuality. I uphold truth because my individual experience convinces me that there is such a thing as absolute truth. No matter what I may say against reality, reality will laugh me in the face. My experience will go on following reality’s dictates regardless of my wishes. Reality warmly welcomes me to a world of real trees, real grass, real flowers. Blue skies bright and clear, not a vague cloud of unreal perceptions and aimless explorations of nothing. Reality is poetic; reality speaks, calls to be heard. Without reality…”
o “I believe in a reality — unique to each person. Do not try to pit this as something versus nothing. In a way, my something is much larger, grander than yours.”
+ “But in your world ‘large’ and ‘grand’ are a joke. Everything is a joke. Without absolutes, there is no value in anything, and all your claims are laughable. You claim against claims.”
o “I personally claim against your claim.”
+ “And my claim is claiming. You claim against claiming.”
o “Against your claiming.”
+ “My claim is claiming the facts of experience.”
o “Your experience – not mine.”
+ “So you deny the experience of absolutes?”
o “I wish neither to deny nor affirm. I wish to live.”
+ “And I wish for such a thing as life.”

So, reader, what do you think?

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1 Response to A Conversation

  1. Johnny says:

    Well written, Justus. Reminds of Chesterton. Your ability to perceive and explore a concept from two opposing angles is remarkable, a crucial critical thinking skill.

    In some ways, I agree partially with both of your characters, but that depends heavily on how you define your core terms. Indulge me a long ramble which will boost the philosophy-related SEO of your post:

    The first character believes truth and reality to be subjective and fluid; I think this sort of thinking is fundamentally wishful and silly, not much more than a word game. In any case, as illustrated in your dialog, arguing for such an idea is self-defeating.

    But don’t some aspects of reality grow and change, even if not merely according to our awareness? Yesterday, it would have been untrue to say that you made this post. Today it is true. In this sense, truth has grown, reality has changed, hasn’t it? Couldn’t we go so far as to say that that truth is relative to this particular point in time?

    Even so, the laws of reality that govern this growth and change (eg. that there is both raw materials and agents of change that can change them in predictable ways, that change is not the same as no-change, etc), as far as we can tell, are fixed. They give the foundation for meaningful interaction between our will and the world. The very realities of nature’s complexity and the shifting limits of our awareness are themselves attributes of the objective world we experience, not just imagine.

    But I think therein lies the beauty of reality that, although illogically, your ‘enlightment/creativity/spinning-tye-dyed-reality’ character is trying to recover. The objective reality which we are a part of does contain raw materials that can be changed, it is tremendously multifaceted, and we do have the ability to work within its laws to resurface it. It is indeed the complex, dynamic nature of reality combined with our ability to act that provides space for legitimate individuality and creative productivity.

    In the end, though, I think most people intuitively understand these things via their experience of the world. The laws of reality, even if we choose to verbally deny them, are unavoidably followed. I think the heart of the matter is how people stretch the difficult language surrounding these concepts to other ideas, which sound similar, but aren’t. Complexity is stretched to mean that truth doesn’t exist or is completely subjective. Objectivity is stretched to deny contextual relativity. Both are stretched, distorted, de-contextualized, and simplified into banners and bandwagons for people seeking to relieve their cognitive dissonance, justify their drives, undermine others, and gain a sense of power and superiority. (<–Way to end on a horrible, dark note.)

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