The Woman Who Wasn’t There, Jesus’ Resurrection, & George Eliot

Netflix recently featured the documentary, “The Woman Who Wasn’t There”, the story about Tania Head, a Spanish immigrant, who claimed she survived the World Trade Center collapse, and then it turned out, she wasn’t even there.

In the story of Jesus’ resurrection, when the clan came back to check on his body three days later, the rock was moved.

‘George Eliot’, the writer of ‘Middlemarch’ was actually Mary Ann Evans.

So, what do all three of these stories have in common? Lying to the public, deceiving vulnerable minds, not telling the truth; and, causing change because of it.

Although Tania Head was not actually in the World Trade Center when they collapsed, according to the documentary, she was instrumental in creating a survivor organization, in which she was able to connect people together and raise money to help the victims’ families.

Or, say, for example, the story of Jesus’ resurrection , it really was not mystical forces that moved the rock, but rather, a group of people, or things did not happen as such, but by believing this story, people become Christians, and by becoming Christian, they are changing society for the better; perhaps at that time, people NEEDED to hear these stories as metaphors, because that is how the collective cultural consciousness functioned, and now, we have shifted away from needing to hear those stories in those ways.

We look at the story of ‘Middlemarch’, which attempts to expose the realities of the human condition, of Victorian society, of issues regarding art, education, and morality. As Virginia Woolf reviewed, “this is the only novel written for grown up people”. Its a novel that finds itself in the English canon, and yet, probably would not have as much stature if George Eliot revealed her real identity. Does it change the way we read the story IF we know its from a female rather than a male writer, OR does the story itself have inherent value?

We cannot discredit the kneading feelings of betrayal that is felt when the truth is told. How dare Tonia Head take advantage of the fragile emotional state of those victims post 9/11. What would happen to the church if it were somehow revealed that the rock was moved by human form? And, how does it change the story if we know ‘Middlemarch’ was written by a female?

Often times, we feel it necessary to expel the truth. We HAVE to know what that girl actually said. We MUST find out what really happened. We NEED to see it for ourselves. And if we don’t, we can’t seem to move on. I think this is, in part, because as humans, we are physical creatures. We like to see things, feel things, hear things so that we can guarantee their existence. We don’t do well with the abstract. When people die, we have viewings of their bodies so there is physical proof of their death. We put together big birthday celebrations so there is physical proof we have aged a year older. When we graduate college, we smack a diploma on our wall so there is physical proof of our hard work, dedication, and study skills.

However, sometimes, perhaps it is the abstract that is the better for us. Sometimes the truth is important for us to know, sometimes it actually doesn’t serve us. This is often times how counseling works. When you go in, your counselor really only hears your side of the story, so the comments they make are based on what YOU need to hear, irrespective of whether that is the truth or not. Perhaps your counselor has to tell you that person is a bad influence, even if it is you perpetuating the behavior, because based on your perception, that is what you need to hear. Perhaps your counselor needs to tell you is was unfair for you to get in trouble, even if you did something to warrant that consequence, because based on your current state, that is what you need to hear. Perhaps your counselor needs to tell you to quit your job, even if you are the one slacking, because that is what you need to hear.

In Happily Never After, I had to rationalize some aspects of the break up that made is less harboring on my ego. Whether or not he had a girlfriend on the side or not, and whether or not he didn’t contact me because he did care about me or not were the truth, it was believing those truths that made it possible for me to move on. Perhaps those things did indeed happen, he did take many trips to the strip club and chew tobacco when he wasn’t supposed to, but believing those truths don’t really serve me right now. If I find out someone is gossiping about me, I actually don’t care to hear what they are saying, because its gossip, and whatever they are saying is their opinion, everyone has their own opinions, and it certainly isn’t going to change anything I am doing. The truth is that they are gossiping, but believing the gossip may not serve me. If my dog runs away, perhaps it is easier for me to believe she ran back to her original owners, rather than find out her body is decomposing in the neighbor’s pond, because the truth that she is still living serves me more than the latter.

Perhaps the truth does not always serve us. As Nietzsche once said, “There are no facts, only interpretations”.

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