Arn't I A Woman?: “Destruction is a moment of every new foundation”: aka The truth is out there



Feb 23, 2012

“Destruction is a moment of every new foundation”: aka The truth is out there

Derrick Bell was one of my favorite race scholars ever. He pioneered critical race theory and wrote about American race relations in parables (see: Bell’s ‘The Space Traders’). I’m currently reading an article about Bell’s theory on racism’s permanence in our society. The author (George Taylor) attempts to deconstruct and make sense of the apparent paradox within Bell’s work: if racism is permanent, how can Bell contend we must still fight against it?

So Taylor just BROUGHT IT HOME with his preliminary analysis. I’m not done reading the article but I had to take an aside to explore how I’m feeling about his theories.

To quote from his article “Racism as ‘the Nation’s Crucial Sin’: Theology and Derrick Bell”:  
            The acid bath            of Bell’s thesis of racism’s permanence lays reality bare; it strips away our illusions. To lay reality bare is a virtue unto itself. We now know and must acknowledge with what we are faced …Once we sweep away the debris of the false idols, we can also assess what it may be possible yet to affirm. ‘[D]estruction . . . is a moment of every new foundation.’ As Bell writes, ‘[W]e risk despair as the necessary price of much-needed enlightenment. Facing up to the real world is the essential prerequisite for a renewed vision, and for a renewed commitment to struggle based on that vision.’”

I was thinking about truth last night, whether it is subjective or objective. Whether there can be one objective truth in spite of millions of subjective ones. Or whether subjective truths should be discounted because they are subjective, and how the hell do you measure if a truth is subjective or objective as a human being, prone to the limitations of the human mind, and plagued with your own perception of reality which inherently controls how you see truth?!

I think when you strip all factors away there is an unwavering truth of the world. It may be one we can never see but I do believe it exists, and I believe all situations have their own objective truth. It isn’t that an objective truth can’t exist it’s just that we lack the capacity to see it. It’s like in TV shows when they have multiple people recount a story, and it turns into a wacky 4 way variation of one event. It all happened one way, but everyone experienced it differently.

I try to get as close as possible to the slope of the authenticity of truth. That’s what really matters to me because it eliminates as much human error as possible. I take comfort in knowing objective truth exists. I don’t have to assign feelings of guilt or anxiety because ultimately, it is what it is. Regardless of what you do to try and change that, truth is unwavering. We can try and cover it up, or twist it around and turn it on its head so it fits what we want it to. But truth is indestructible.

I fear truth precisely because of what Bell supposes: that often what we discover when we stare truth in the face is ugly, scary, and uncomfortable. But so goes the nature of this world. Everything that hurts, is hard, and makes you question your foundations of reality eventually leads you to an ultimate truth. We must first destroy the institutions and receptors of our mind that hinder us and block the truth from getting in, even knowing that with excepting truth we are as well excepting pain.

It is indeed, a paradox. It is why people avoid and manipulate reality to their liking. Because when we let the truth in, we see things in a way that might hurt us. I’m a horrible insomniac, and I lay in bed most nights processing the constant stream of thoughts that cease only eventually, in the early hours of the morning. After my brain processes the day’s information within the confines of my consciousness and starts to shut down, there is that sort of enlightening period where the brain is functioning very basely.
I had been feeling pretty good about the day prior to my brain shutting down at 5 in the morning, most likely because that’s how I wanted to feel. But then all of a sudden a specific moment of my day sprang into my mind, where I realized I was being a total mean girl bitch.  It played out in my mind like a horror movie, and I couldn’t believe how I had acted. It was maybe a minute of my life, and it could have gone completely unnoticed by everyone else, but my brain made me see what had really happened, what it failed to do earlier because it is trained to see truth subjectively, and I felt awful. I kept thinking about it, and how smugly I had celebrated my day, thinking I was really starting to make progress and become a closer version of the person I wanted to be, which includes treating all other human beings with respect. And then I was like, oh hey, you were a total fucking cunt in this situation. That sucked, but I knew it was true, mainly because of how horrible it made me feel. And that’s good, ultimately, because if I didn’t feel like such an asshole now, I couldn’t address what the problem is, you know, what made me act like that.

And as someone who has a lot of problems to address (but is, at the very least, open to addressing them), truth is necessary to repair them. Because it is easy for someone like me to manipulate the truth, since I have developed a lot of defense mechanisms. My brain sees a threat to my current mode of operation and concludes it must be destroyed for me to continue to “defend” myself. The threats aren’t real anymore, just the defenses.
So why should we fight to obtain the truth if impossible? Because it will destroy all false idols. “Destruction is a form of creation.”

1 comment:

  1. Please discount grammatical areas as this was written hastily


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Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention

Akron, Ohio