Friday, February 19, 2010

Can You Handle the Truth?

After teaching this morning I took a moment to listen to Tiger Woods address the planet, not least because our course readings this term contemplate the timeless question of erotic desire. Woods's drama, in other words, is our drama, ancient and cruel.

Also, like the rest of the world, I'm a voyeur, and curious about other people's dirty laundry. (Yet another reason to salute the dignity of fiction: it ain't true; it ain't gossip.)

I must say that I found his speech fascinating. I loved its theatricality, its strategic (by which I mean intentional) futility, its enormous self-regard. I was delighted by the technological failure—exquisitely off-script—that forced us to watch its final minutes in profile, so that Wood's mother, and not Woods himself, became the center of the screen. And I was moved by his return to his mother's arms—the towering infant, back in the maternal sanctuary; and by her obvious love, which any son can imagine: limitless, permanent, unconditional.

But most of all, I realized watching him speak that I was witnessing an event that perfectly embodies the real ambition of middle-class American culture: to avoid the truth, at all cost.

No, I understate the case: the ambition of our culture is not merely to avoid the truth; it is to present the opposite of the truth as the truth.

That's what happened this morning.

I'll have more to say about this, perhaps (I hope!) in a long essay. I'll quickly note that my claim about the contemporary American culture's real goal applies to our current politics, our art (i.e., Avatar), our religions (which is really one religion, the religion of self-idolatry), and our heroes, like this morning's Tiger Woods.


  1. I didn't happen to see much of the Tiger Woods speech, but I did find your philosophy on the truth to be appealing as well as something people should consider. When we choose to lie, we are tireless at making others believe our lie to be the truth. Sometimes we go so far into our lies that they become the truth, even to ourselves. Society may not like liars, but it defiantly doesn't like cheaters. If I was a public idol, and my reputation was on the line, I might have made the same decision as well. Anyways, before I go on to a tangent... Tiger woods has been a paragon to the human public for quite some time. He has been the ideal human being: friendly, peaceful, a front runner, and has seemingly sustained a healthy family life. Now, it's easy to criticize him for what he did to his family; from a male's perspective I can relate a bit to his lack of exclusivity. I personally believe it's impossible to be only attracted to one person in the walk of life, but you can still exclusive. I am personally, slowly, learning this lesson...i hope he can as well.

  2. i agree, in the american culture we all try to fit into the norm and even though all of us at one time or another break societies expectations, we feel the need to lie to fit in. tiger just didnt play his game right and got caught up in his own game and now has to pay the price...the press. he lies to try and fool us and tries to fool himself, neither i believe is working. we all try to lie to others as well as ourself...some may call this regrete but i dnt think you can truelly regrete because at the time what happened is exaclty what you wanted. -diane l.