The purpose of literature and the media is to enlighten. Emily Dickinson's 'Tell the Truth but Tell it Slant' and Gregory Warner's Rough Translation, 'The Congo we Listen to' are two pieces that enlighten on different issues in the society. 'Tell the Truth but Tell it Slant' is a poem that presents yet again, Dickinson's philosophy on Poetry. In this short piece, Dickinson is interested in addressing fellow poets and writers about telling the truth and aims to do so through the subject of the poem. On the other hand, Rough Translation's 'The Congo we Listen to' is a podcast radio recording that discusses the crisis of rape in the Congo. Laura Heaton, a journalist, accompanied by her Congolese colleagues visits the remote village of Luvanga, Congo to hear firsthand accounts of raped victims. Her attempts to address the rape crisis in Congo produces unintended consequences when She realizes that the stories presented to her are nothing but fabricated lies (NPR, 2017). A scrutiny of these two pieces would reveal a common theme among them. Both 'Tell the Truth but Tell it Slant' and 'The Congo we Listen to' contain the theme of truth since they individually touch on aspects of exposing lies.
Examination of Emily Dickinson's poem brings to light the underlying theme that people should speak the truth. Barely a stanza goes without an aspect of truth mentioned. The first stanza of the poem kicks things off by giving a directive to fellow poets on how to go about their writing task in exposing the truth. Dickinson suggests to poets that they must tell the truth in their poetry. However, she asserts that in doing so, poets should hold back in a manner that truth is brought from an angle and not directly. This is what she describes as "tell it slant." In slanting, poets are aggrandizing all the details of the truth. Success in telling the truth only comes when it is done tangentially. "Success in circuits" (1.2) as she believes goes perfectly around an idea eventually coming back to the same spot. By this, only details should be let out and, in the end, giving the whole truth. According to Dickinson, she believes that the power of truth is so overpowering for people's weak perception hence can be surprising. Subsequently, the truth would end up overwhelming individuals or some people might end up understanding it. Thus, in the same way, a person would explain to a child the great but fearful lightning to lessen their awe, so should the truth be presented to people indirectly before they can see the truth itself. This is when she emphasizes that. "...the truth must dazzle gradually, or every man is blind".
The poem also employs some literary styles to help express the theme of truth. Dickinson uses metaphors and allusions to return to the subject of truth severally. For instance, Dickinson makes a comparison of likening the truth to light. This associates truth to something that enables people to see. Something that at times can be bright to the point that it hurts the eyes. This is a larger truth that is real and deep. On the same note, in the last stanza, the "Truths superb surprise" also personifies the truth as having the ability to give surprises. The literary techniques help in manifesting the theme of truth.
The theme of truth in Dickinson's poem and the ideology of how to reveal truthful facts in writing is reflected in Warner's narration, 'The Congo we Listen to.' In the first stanza, Dickinson suggested that tell all the truth, but make the approach at an angle. 'The Congo we Listen to' express truth on a very crucial issue. Rape is a serious case, and indeed, people pity the victims. Making people believe that there is a significant number of Congolese women who fabricate lies that they are rape victims is difficult. However, this is something that the podcast has achieved and revealed every aspect of the lies speaking only but the truth. In addition, the truth is also told at an angle while pitying the women who are actual victims of rape.
Conversely, Dickinson also suggests the success of telling the truth, comes in the circuit. She asserts that the process should go around giving bit by bit about the fact till the end. Precisely to this assertion has the podcast narration followed. The story takes a circuit and begins with Laura Heaton arriving in Congo and together with his Congolese guide traveling down to the countryside. The way the narration happens is whereby you even do not know what the podcast intends to reveal. Then detail by detail and bit by bit, the story pours out, and the truth is brought into the light. No assertion is made concerning whether it is wrong that the women are telling lies. By this, the listener gets a more profound understanding instead of being inclined on one side of the story.
Another point addressed in Dickinson's poem is that the truth is too bright to bear. This means that if a whole truth is exposed at once, it might hurt people's emotions. Nobody knew that the numbers presented in regards to rape victims in Congo are highly prejudiced. Worse is that rich countries are the ones who make the situation exaggerated. In other words, it is the wealthy nations who are lying to themselves. This truth is hurtful and appears as if the author enlightens on the truth in a manner that saddens. It is difficult to accept that the information that has been available for all this time is nothing but mere fabrications. On the same note, the unusual nature of truth equally manifests in the narration. Dickinson (2016) says that the truth is beyond human comprehension and is very surprising. It is hard to deny that what Warner narrates in the podcast does not surprise. In fact, it sends you to inquire further to affirms whether his assertions are factual. Dickinson discusses these and other elements of truth in her poem.
In brief, as seen in the above discussion, telling the truth is a responsibility bestowed to media and literature. The two pieces mentioned in the text both portrays the theme of speaking truth. Dickinson's poem teaches on how the truth should be exposed while Warner's narration practically follows Dickinson's assertions. In the end, the underlying message is that there is a protocol that is followed in presenting lies. This is because the nature of truth requires it to be reported tactically to reach the intended audience successfully. Truth is part of the society, what matters is how you tell it.
Dickinson, E. (2016). Tell all the truth but tell it slant-(1263). Poetryfoundation.org.
NPR, R. T. (2017). The Congo we Listen to [Recorded by G. Warner]. United States of America.
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