Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ariel Dorfman: How Do You Reach the Truth If Lying Has Become a Habit

(Published on September 11, 1991 exactly 10 years prior to 9/11... those who instituted and legitimated torture should be investigated!)

"How Do You Reach the Truth If Lying Has Become a Habit."
by Ariel Dorfman
Excerpt from the afterword to his play "Death and the Maiden":

"It was then and is now more than ever my belief that a fragile democracy is strengthened by expressing for all to see the deep dramas and sorrows and hopes that underlie its existence and that it is not by hiding the damage we have inflicted on ourselves that we will avoid its repetition.

As I began to write I found the characters trying to figure out the sort of questions that so many Chileans were asking themselves privately, but that hardly anyone seemed interested in posing in public. How can those who tortured and those who were tortured co-exist in the same land? How to heal a country that has been traumatised by repression if the fear to speak out is still omnipresent everywhere? And how do you reach the truth if lying has become a habit? How do we keep the past alive without becoming its prisoner? How do we forget it without risking its repetition in the future? Is it legitimate to sacrifice the truth to ensure peace? And what are the consequences of suppressing that past and the truth it is whispering or howling to us? Are people free to search for justice and equality if the threat of a military intervention haunts them? And given these circumstances, can violence be avoided? And how guilty are we all of what happened to those who suffered most? And perhaps the greatest dilemma of them all: how to confront these issues without destroying the national consensus, which creates democratic stability?
Three weeks later, Death and the Maiden was ready."

Entire Afterword

More about Ariel Dorfman:

Ariel Dorfman

"Death and the Maiden" was also made into a powerful film by Roman Polanski:

Review of the Film

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