Stories we tell

This film is based on a family subject. Sarah Polley tries to unearth the family secrets in order to be sure of her origins. The family consists of storytellers who come up with different versions of the story. Sarah tries to investigate the family secrets through the many stories she hears from the family members. As she interviews all the family members, she gets contradictory answers to the same question, which leaves the audience wondering whether there is any truth in the subject matter. Her mother departed leaving behind many unanswered questions. Sarah who reveals the essence of the complicated family unravels the paradoxes in the story given by the family members. The film explores the elusive nature of truth and how our lives and families are shaped by the stories we tell. All our stories interconnect at some point to make one profound story and sometimes in life; we have to make out the objective truth from subjective judgments.

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In life, there are many different subjective interpretations of a given event but this does not mean that there is any truth of the matter pertaining to what happened. Like in the film stories we tell, the truth is looked from different viewpoints. Even though every family member comes up with his/ her own story, Sarah tries to connect pieces from different stories and in the end, comes up with the truth.

For example in the Hindu fable about the six blind men and the elephant, the blind men were led to an elephant to touch it and describe their encounter, each from their perspective (McCurry 97). Each of the blind men described the elephant and had a very different assessment of what an elephant was like. Each blind man was touching a different part of the elephant- the tusk, ear, trunk, tail, leg, side and each described the elephant differently. One man said it was like a big wall another said it was like a snake, another it was a fan and another it was like a tree. Each man had his opinion based on the small portion of the elephant he got to explore with his hands. No man was right about the whole of the elephant but in their memory, each one of them knew he was right (McCurry 97).

The same case applies to the different stories we tell because everyone has had an encounter with the subject and believes that he/she is right. Like the blind men, all of us try to make sense out of our situations based on what we see and understand, but sometimes in the process, we make interpretations that are misguided or incorrect (McCurry 97). It is upon one to put the stories together and extract the truth from them.

The morality of humanity is based on the concept of truth (Curran 77).  Many people wonder how to determine objective truth when they have to work with different subjective judgments. Subjective means belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of the mind (Flint 22).

On the other hand, objective means relating to or being an object and having a reality independent of the mind. Objective assessments are the convergence of the subjective judgment of qualified assessors who have a minimum of reasons for bias in their judgment (Flint 22). When trying to figure out the objective truth from subjective judgments one can independently determine for oneself alone, based on one’s critical examination of all the evidence, whether one’s objective or subjective judgment is true or consistent with the objective state of affairs (Ikuenobe 203). Such determination of truth or some kind of correspondence between one’s belief or judgment and some objective state of affairs is what, in their view, makes one’s subjective judgment to be the truth.

The idea, which indicates that there must be a logical correspondence between elements of one’s individual, subjective, independent judgment and some objective facts, is unsatisfactory (Ikuenobe 203). This idea does not give credence to the role that is played by other people who in the process of inquiry and sharing of evidence may have to confirm or corroborate one’s independent judgment in order for it to be deemed adequate (Ikuenobe 203). This role is important because one can be wrong in evaluating the evidence and making a determination with respect to the adequate correlation between the subjective judgment and the objective facts.

The notion of duality requires that subjective and objective views of the world coexist (Vick 397). It is not a matter that one is correct while the other is not. The objective lies within the part of the world where things can be proven, the subjective occupies the rest, and to restrict one’s residence to one or the other would make for a small world indeed (Vick 397). Yet we have seen throughout that the objective tends to dominate the subjective thus suppressing many dualities. In the enclave of the objective, what constitutes knowledge is only that which can be known for sure from what can be proven to be true, or at least what is accepted as proof (Vick 397).  Anything unknown for sure, which is to say that which we are uncertain about, has no place in objective truth.

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