Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tainted Lenses = Skewed Truth

A recurring theme in our class discussions has been the different lenses we use to perceive literature, the city, and the world around us. In day-to-day life we use these lenses to make judgments and decisions, ultimately shaping who we are. Most times without realizing it, we automatically—sometimes with great bias—criticize our surroundings and situations. With such inclination and disposition, our lenses often are tainted, without even realizing. In Gloria Naylor’s, The Women of Brewster Place, this is no exception.

Ciel comments on such a lens after Mattie tells Ceil that she better teach her daughter her name, because she will be using it more than her father’s name. As a response, Ciel thinks, “It was useless to argue with Mattie. You can take her words however you wanted. The burden of their truth lay with you, not her (96).” This passage reflects how it is completely up to the individual to take in and analyze what they perceive. Since Ciel was thinking beforehand about how stationary Eugene was going to remain in her life. As a result, she first interpreted Mattie’s words—even though they might have been—to be hurtful and sarcastic. Quickly checking herself, Ciel realizes that the truth is in the eye of the beholder. With certain stereotypes and frames of mind, this vision of truth can ultimately be skewed.

In regard to our discussion in the last class about the perception of the “typical Loyola College student,” one can see how perception—especially in the case involving finding truth—can be altered from the real truth, by presuppositions of what is believed to be true in certain instances. For example, we believe that Loyola is filled with substantial numbers of students from rich, upper-class families, when in fact only 35% of the student body pays the full tuition. If we subconsciously believe something to be true, we will find a small degree of that assumption in something we are viewing—designer clothes, nice cars, and an expensive nightlife—in this example. We are ultimately exaggerating the truth to what we want to see. These preconceived notions, in effect, distort the lenses we perceive the world around us with.