We may manage to convince ourselves that we create distortions unintentionally. Yet it is because we wish to escape reality that we distort it. When we lament over our inability to understand life, it is not life we are trying to understand but rather our distorted version of life. And to understand a distortion is not possible. For, unlike truth, which does not alter, a distortion can shift its shape. Truth is like a clear blue sea. But distortion is an ocean—vast, murky, impenetrable.
In order to distort, we must warp our perspective. That is the first key to seeing things not as they are but as we choose for them to be. Our distortions do not necessarily conform to our desires for we invent distortions to make ourselves miserable, even when we wish to be happy.
We fashion distortions that bring us hatred instead of the love we yearn for. We destroy friendships because of our need to distort that which is pure and turn it into something corrupt. We pervert love into lust so that we eventually begin to treat other human beings as no more than objects to gratify our desires.
Through distortions, truth cannot be glimpsed. Rather, our lives become a capsule of kinetic chaos in which illusions are our guiding principle. In The Perfect Crime, Jean Baudrillard wrote, “There is no room for both the world and its double.” Similarly, there is not room for truth and distorted reality.
Yet, distortions serve a purpose, whether we consciously admit it or not. Distortions can be our way of torturing ourselves for both real and imagined mistakes. They can become our way of creating a subjective reality that hurls us into a state of despair that part of us believes we deserve.
Distortions can also exculpate us from responsibility for the poor choices we make or the lack of contentment within ourselves. If we can blame the world, politics, the economy, religion, and other people for the state of our lives, it transfers the weight of guilt from our shoulders. And how much easier it is to complain about what has been done to us than to accept the blame for that which we have done to ourselves!
When we distort truth, everyone becomes part of a dreamworld of our own making. Although genuine despair can be a process of the soul cleaning itself, the despair that we experience because of our distortions becomes ineffective. For even our suffering will not make saints of us if it exists only in our minds. We cannot pose as false martyrs and condemn the world for failing to weep when we crucify ourselves. Our pain must be real to others besides us if we want to receive compassion from mankind.
Yet, distortions will coerce us into imagining that what we feel is perceived by others and that those who do not understand our suffering are insensitive and cruel. Nietzsche said that all things are subject to interpretation. Indeed, distortions are capable of various interpretations.
We can distort the same object, the same person, the same experience in a number of ways, thus constantly interpreting it differently. And these distortions, though they may frighten us, can also create a false allure that is both convenient and comforting. But they remain irrelevant for they exist outside of reality and are therefore separate from truth.
David Bohm once said that when the urge to distort was obliterated, we would experience a “revolution in culture”. Instead as the world becomes increasingly more inclined to discourage us from thinking for ourselves, distortions are becoming the means by which people inflict their views on others. For as we distort truth and shape it to suit our purposes, we are able to persuade others to believe as we do.
Because distortions are removed so far from reality, it is sometimes difficult to remember that which has been distorted. The grotesque, for example, is usually a distortion of something that is pure and beautiful. At the same time the absurd remains comical, whether distorted or not.
There are as many ways of distorting as there are of things which one can distort. Yet whether we are aware of it or not, most of us do distort something. Moreover, in only focusing on the ways in which distortions inhibit our lives, we never manage to obliterate them for, in our obsession with resolving them, we overlook their allure. Even that which is ugly can camouflage itself with a veneer of beauty, drawing us to it as if by a magical spell. It is the same with distortions.
The instinct to distort—the desire to disfigure—must be examined before we will cease to distort. For until we examine the reasons for distorting we have no way of satisfying our craving to distort. There are no revelations from the outside that will provide us with clues. Rather, we must awaken within and view our lives as we would a slide show of someone else’s life. Whether we distort consciously or not, we do so for a specific purpose, even if we are incapable of defining it. The psychological constructs we create around the concept of distortion only pull us further away from understanding it.
We must have the courage to look at something from all sides without allowing judgments to cloud our reasoning. It is when we begin restricting our thoughts and narrowing our vision that we blind ourselves to what is real. And to be blind to reality is also to be blind to an understanding of ourselves. Whether we choose to use them to our advantage or not, distortions provide us with an important clue for understanding ourselves. For they show us not only our fears but also our desires.
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This page and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2010 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved