Wednesday, 18 May 2011

There have been some curious court

proceedings lately. I am not one for conspiracy theories but the media is hinting at one in the highly publicised cases of the death of a certain terrorist and the arrest of the head of a certain financial organisation.
Locally we have another curious case in front of the media - the alleged assault of the state's former treasurer. There are claims of evidence being "redacted" or revised and edited and the Premier's own security staff being involved in the investigation. The former treasurer is now the Police Minister. He has not stepped aside during the case. Yesterday he held a press conference in the middle of the proceedings claiming that his "good name" was being held to question. That is, of course, partly what court proceedings are about.
In my own family we have another curious case at present. Many years ago my uncle, an artist, designed and built his own home. It was, at the time, a very unusual house. It caused a lot of interest in the art community and beyond. In order to build it he first built a model from balsa wood. When the house was almost finished and the model was no longer needed he gave it to my then very young brother. My brother accidentally sat on it and ruined it. My father and I were discussing this with my cousin who is too young to remember this happening.
When my brother made his weekly telephone call my father reminded him of this. My brother's reaction was curious. He claimed he had not sat on the house. He claimed he had pulled it to pieces in order to use the balsa wood for another model. Nothing is going to convince him otherwise and there is nobody else left who can say what happened. There will forever be two different versions of the story.
My mother kept a daily diary. Most of it is of very little interest but there were times of crisis when she kept her version of events in the exercise books she used. She also wrote an exercise book with her life story. At the point where she begins to talk about events I can clearly remember it is clear that her memory of them was quite different from mine - and that of my siblings. If someone had to rely on that document it would not give an accurate or complete picture. That document is a court of sorts, just as this blog sometimes is.
What is told in court is rarely the truth. It may often be what people believe is the truth - and it can be outright lies if someone is seeking to see justice done or someone else is seeking to evade justice. Even then people can convince themselves it is the truth.
People will remember what they want to remember and in the way they want to remember it. I try to be accurate and not to judge. I doubt if I always succeed.


widdershins said...

What is truth? ... just what people think it is.

When asked for my opinion on something I usually preface it with something along the lines of, "I can only offer 'my truth' which may or may not be significantly different from yours or anyone elses". If they want to continue, then we go ahead and have a lively conversation.

I sometimes substitute 'a truth' for 'my truth' just to mix things up a little.

This really throws folk off balance. They have to think through what I might mean and I wait, silently, until they make up their mind whether they want to engage me.
It's also a very useful skill to have at family/social occasions. :)

Miriam Drori said...

When I wrote my memoir, I remembered certain events and forgot others. The memoir paints an unhappy childhood, but I know there were happy times, too. Ultimately, the events we remember are the ones that shape the rest of our lives. (Don't know what this has to do with court cases, lol.)

Jayne said...

Maybe your brother chooses to picture himself as an early artist, following in his uncle's footsteps, rather than as a clumsy child (even though accidental). I think sometimes folks re-praint memory in different colours.

I believe because of this reason written accounts of history are but fragments of a whole. Enough fragments and a picture emerges - but it will no doubt be a shadow of what the picture truly was.

Thanks - interesting thoughts!

Katherine Langrish said...

How very true. And my brother and I remember almost entirely different things from our childhood! I'm always saying, 'do you remember this or that', and he often shakes his head.

catdownunder said...

Thankyou all - more food for thought.
I do think that highly verbal individuals may have a greater capacity to remember things - simply because they also have the vocabulary with which to describe them.