Thursday, August 11, 2011

What Should I Believe?

In Doug Coupland's book Generation A (2009), one of the characters gets a phone call:

Father:  "It's time we had a talk."
Zoë:  "What is it, Father?"
Father:  "It's simple, really.  You need to know that your mother and I don't believe in anything."

and later he says, "Ideology is for people who don't trust their own experiences and perceptions of the world" (pp. 165-166).

This is reminiscent of a line from Marat/Sade, by Peter Weiss.  In the play, the infamous Marquis de Sade says, "The only truth we can point to is the ever changing truth of our own experience."  In other words, truth is a moment-to-moment negotiation.

The trouble with experiences and perceptions being equated with "truth" is that perceptions are often immediately interpreted and the interpretation is remembered and believed, rather than the direct experience  -- brain research shows that even when a part of the brain is poked to elicit a feeling, the research subject creates a non-poking cause for the feeling (See

In his song "God," John Lennon discounts all the things people normally believe in including magic, the Bible, Jesus, Gita, Elvis, and the Beatles.  He says, "I just believe in me, Yoko and me."

But what should we believe in?  More on this soon.

1 comment:

  1. And the problem with perception and experience is that science is increasingly showing us that so much of what affects us (is real) is not perceivable by any of our senses. There is a lot happening all around us and in the universe that is beyond my senses, and my experience, (let's not even talk about understanding). To reduce all of that to a personal judgement of our experience is self-centered. The Marquis DeSade also says in Marat-Sade how he hates nature. I think the problem is a setting up of himself as the be-all and end-all of everything. Does that make any sense?