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  1. 1. Tabattanon1 Kamolnat Tabattanon Senior Seminar P7 Mr. Clover 21 September 2010 Morris on Rashomon People are mistaken to expect truth to take a particular form or be presented in a certain fashion. Errol Morris, a famed documentary director, argues that truth is a characteristic of the entity rather than the style. Believing such material, he claims, is the foundation of sheer gullibility, for there is only one truth (Believer). I fully agree with Morris in that there is only one ultimate truth, especially as it pertains to Rashomon; we as humans simply choose not to accept it. There is an absolute reality that engulfs us all; despite our expectations claim that only what coheres is true, relative truths are, as Morris would claim, illogical. According to Morris, there is only one absolute truth that exists in reality. He states, “I am a realist”, a believer in one sole truth (Believer). To Morris, the concept many truths to one reality is obviously a flaw in the human thought process. Like Plato, Morris believes that truth must be public, eternal, and independent of opinion; this means that an absolute truth applies to completely everyone, that the truth cannot be altered, and that it is as it is, regardless of any claims otherwise. Reflecting on Rashomon, a movie that presents four ‘truths’ to one murder, Morris still stands firmly on his belief of Realism. Even though four stories were presented in court, only one event occurred and it could have only occurred in one way; it is common sense to reason that there is only one truth behind every crime, therefore it begs to reason that Morris is correct in his argument that, even in Rashomon, there is only one absolute truth. He explains the fallacies of the characters of Rashomon by
  2. 2. Tabattanon2 observing that people typically see the true nature of things, but they have a tendency to alter this reality into something else, something more favorable to their own tastes. Sometimes our perceptive minds guide us to more appealing aspects of reality than what is true. When this happens we are at the mercy of our subconscious expectations and the coherence, whether or not given circumstances fit a logical prediction, of materials presented. Morris logically argues that from one truth, many pseudo-truths are born, since we as humans screen and pick up only certain aspects of our world. This is known as selective perception. What we look at and what we see can be staggeringly different. In a sense, we have the ability to control our personal reality, shaping it to match what we expect it to be, but we can never, as Morris would undoubtedly agree, redesign truth. Our individual realities are careless glimpses of the true nature around us, and only when something seems out of place, when it fails to cohere with the outlines of our minds, so we stop to reexamine. That is the point of Rashomon (Believer). After the first story is presented, we automatically decide that it is feasible, and we think nothing more of it. However, once the second view is given, we, not expecting two polar opposites of a single occurrence, begin to reflect on what the truth can be. As viewers we start to formulate our own opinions on what happened, using our expectations of character behavior that coheres with past experiences. Morris is no different; he stated that the truth of Rashomon was blatantly clear. These different opinions create a realm of truths that coexists with that of the realist. A truth that applies to only one individual is known as a Relative Truth. According to Morris, these are simply defective clones to Absolute Truth; he accepts that different people will have different perceptions of one event, but the Absolute Truth is not altered by these Relative ones. Morris’s view is simple: there is only one truth, no more, no less; “there [is] no objective truth” (Believer). Rashomon has one solution, and it is our obligation as an educated viewer to identify it rather than to brood over multiple variations of it. I do believe,
  3. 3. Tabattanon3 however, that Morris overlooks a certain flaw here. As correct as I consider him to be, Morris cannot possibly be asking a human audience, the exact type of audience that he has chastised for being individualistic in assigning traits to one absolute entity according to what they meekly expect, to create a single truth out of the four presented in Rashomon. Surely this will craft, not one, but countless ‘truths’, one for each follower that accepted Morris’s challenge, only a handful, if any, of which could possibly match up to Morris’s own theory of what really happened in the Rashomon murder. The only method in getting a sheep-like audience to follow on a single theory is to present material in a way that each one of them expects to hold the truth. Nothing is available to back up such a claim, only the opinion that the style of which the documentary was filmed seems truthful. In this argument, audacious lies can pass for truth. It makes sense that Morris would come to despise such a discrediting technique in his field of work. I believe that Morris is verging on understanding truth and perception. His claims are logical, and even a believer of relative truths will not be able to resist such obvious ideas. The realist that he is, Morris stands his ground that only one truth exists above us; even Rashomon could not prove to be a loophole for relative truth followers. The four stories offered in Rashomon were simply each characters perception of a single event, and hidden among them is the Absolute Truth. No matter how convincingly each story is presented, imaginative inventions of truth cannot replace the real thing.