Thoughts Story

Thought of the week: What is true?

  What we see, what we say and what we hear are only part of the truth. This week, Michelle Terry reflects on a quote from Much Ado About Nothing

4 minute read

Text: Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent, Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, scene 1 and image of a woman pointing her finger upwards above her head

“If you hold out your arm and you look at your thumbnail, that’s all you can see in high definition and full colour at once. Colour ends 20 to 30 degrees outside that core and the rest of your sight is fuzzy. You have two lemon-sized blind spots and blink fifteen to twenty times a minute, which blinds you for fully 10 percent of your waking life. You don’t even see in three dimensions.”

The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr

If you can’t even trust your own sight or insight, what or who can you trust?

My Nanna is 94 and after a fall at the beginning of lockdown, she banged her head, had a subdural haemorrhage, and as a result seems to have gone back 35 years.

This kind, gentle woman is now incredibly angry, frustrated. Deeply confused and convinced that my Grandad is outside waiting for her.

She is also convinced that people in the care home are stealing her wedding ring from her. She says she has seen them do it.

The carer called my Mum the other night because Nanna was absolutely beside herself in tears, convinced one of her sisters had died. She said she had seen the message on her phone.

She wants to know when she will see my Mum again because she saw her last week.

However…

My Mum has not been able to see Nanna since before lockdown as the care home isolated a week before the rest of the country.

My Grandad has been dead for twenty years.

Knowing the rings have not been stolen is self-evident because the rings are still on Nanna’s fingers.

Nanna has never been able to read a text message on her phone.

Knowing her sister’s are still alive is self-evident because, well – they are.

But all of this is true to my Nanna.

Claudio says ‘let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent’

Claudio’s eye negotiated for itself and he didn’t see the truth.

But it was true to him.

In a world of multiplicity and plurality, convenient lies being heard above the inconvenient truths, when what we see, what we say and what we hear are only part of the truth, it is little to no surprise that anger, fear and confusion rule at the moment.

But anger, fear and confusion means we can no longer see our thumbnail in high definition and the 20 or 30 degrees either side is more fuzzy than ever.

So how do we know a truth when we meet one?

When is a truth true and no longer a matter of perception?

When Nanna was crying about the death of her Sister, who hadn’t died, the carer called my Mum to find out what was true. Whilst the home can absolutely ‘negotiate for itself’, it is also reliant on my mum to help interpret the upset and the rage and the accusations as best she can over the phone.

The amazing carer who tirelessly looks after my Nanna was trying to talk to my Mum at the same time as trying to console my distraught Nanna, when suddenly the crying stopped.

“Hang on” said the carer and turned to Nanna.

Nanna had stopped crying, was sat on the edge of her bed, and in a moment of totally clarity said:

“Tell her to call me back. She’s using up all my credit.”

And there she was. Just for a moment. My Nanna. Someone who, for her entire life had lived with great love and relative poverty, able to hold on to at least something that was true; that she may be losing her mind but she was damned if she is going to do it without some credit on her phone.

PSwDB Macbeth 2020 icon hand

Let every eye negotiate for itself
And trust no agent

— Much Ado About Nothing

FINIS.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK 

Each week during the UK’s current Coronavirus crisis, our Artistic Director Michelle Terry shares her thought of the week.

Using Shakespeare’s language, Michelle reflects on the individual and universal meaning of the words. By giving personal and emotional insight, she uses the quote to relate to, and express, the mood of this uncertain time.

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