in the light of world events we repeat this refection oiginally published on May 31, 2012
POINT TO PONDER
There are no facts, only interpretations.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
REFLECTION by Rajiv Shah
facts - something that actually exists; reality; truth
interpretations - to give or provide the meaning of; explain; explicate; elucidate
Can a fact ever be divorced from the interpretation of that fact? Or does the truth always lie somewhere in between, where each person's truth is different from the other? Perhaps, it is not the truth that matters but how we use it to get what we individually need?
Have you ever seen Rashomon? If not, check it out (click the photo above for a link to the complete film), not only because it's one Akira Kurasowa's great films but because the film seems to attempt to answer this very question posed by Friedrich Nietzsche. Warning: the following reflection contains spoilers for the film.
The film centers around the rape of a wife and the subsequent murder of her husband. The film recounts what happened from four different points of view: the bandit that supposedly raped the wife, the wife herself, the now deceased husband (told through a medium), and a woodcutter who witnessed the rape and kept the dagger that was used to murder the husband.
The film takes us into the court hearing of the murder to determine what really happened. The facts at that point were that all the said people were involved in some way, a man was dead, and a dagger had been used to kill him.
According to the badit, he seduced the woman after tying her husband to a tree. Filled with shame, the wife pleaded that he fight her husband in a duel so as not to dishonor her. After fighting valiantly, he claims to have emerged the victor and the wife ran away. When asked about the dagger, he claims he forgot all about it and made a mistake leaving such a valuable piece at the scene.
The wife's story claims that she was not seduced but raped. After which the bandit left her in shame with her husband. Her husband, full of loathing and contempt refused to look or acknowledge her. She took the dagger and begged her husband to kill her to save her from shame. She claims to have passed out from shock and awoke to find the dagger in the body of her dead husband.
Through a medium the husband's story is told. According to this version the husband claims that his wife was raped and agreed to escape with the bandit on his journey only if he would agree to kill her husband before they left. The bandit, horrified, asked the husband whether he should kill his cold hearted wife or let her go. She runs away and the husband kills himself.
The woodcutter's story is the only one coming from a person not directly involved in the events. The woodcutter did see the rape and the murder. But how things transpired were not exactly as anyone had said. According to his account, the bandit did rape the wife. After begging her to leave her husband and marry him, the wife freed her husband who was too ashamed to defend her honor. The wife chastised both claiming they were not real men and that real men would fight for her. Pushed to fight, the men fought not valiantly - as the bandit had claimed - but pitifully with the bandit finally knocking the husband to the ground after a lucky blow. The husband begged for his life as his wife fled. Roiled with conflict, the bandit finally killed the husband. This version isn't without doubt either as the woodcutter is then accused of tailoring his story to hide the fact that he was indeed the one that had stolen the dagger and didn't want to get caught.
*Watch the complete film above if you're curious to the outcome of the film*