Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Truth Dentist

Margaret Coles' novel "The Greening" is a fascinating interaction between three stories.  The key character of the main story, Joanna Meredith, is a journalist who wishes to combine effective writing with an ethically sound approach.  She is strongly influenced and supported by what is effectively the second story which enters her story by means of a journal which she is reading her way through.  The third story is some account of the thinking and writings of Julian of Norwich.  Julian is a meaningful and positive influence on Anna, the writer of the journal, and comes to be also an important influence on Joanna.

There are lots of things to be drawn from the novel, but I was particularly struck by a passage where Joanna has a conversation with Ismene, one of the novel's other key characters.  Ismene perceptively recognises what Joanna is trying to achieve through her journalism - "You, Joanna, are what I call a truth dentist.  By that, I mean someone who is determined to extract the truth of the stories she reports, who will not be fobbed off, who will not let go.  It's all there, in the quality of your work.  You notice the details.  ....  It takes the persistence to be a truth dentist and the courage to pull one's own teeth.  It takes the determination to keep going when you are the only one who can see the point of the story."

Where do we need to develop our capacity to be truth dentists?

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