So I’ve been working on refining the “motto” of sorts I wrote about last week: “Create what you would like to see in the world, and then make it public.”
I’ve now whittled it down to:
“Actualize the truth you want to see in the world.”
The making it public part should go without saying.
I’m been thinking a lot about truth, with either a big or little “T”, and what the artist has to do with it. I could have stated “Create the truth you want to see in the world,” but maybe this too strongly implies that anyone can create their own truth. Not so. Truth is a funny thing.
In a recent Facebook discussion, I wrote:
My take on it is, in brief, as follows: Knowledge (and truth) is a social construction — and socially constructed not only within human society but also between human societies and the wider environment. Our technologies are isolating and separating us from each other and from the natural environment. Therefore knowledge and truth are fracturing, with different groups and even different individuals seeing reality in radically different ways, and without any kind of grounding feedback from nature. The remedy? Art certainly, but exactly how, I’m not sure — but it has do with communication and real sharing, and lately I’ve been thinking it has to do with creating, visualizing the positive I want to see in the world and sharing that vision with others.
In short, individuals don’t create truth, communities or societies create truth. This is conventional truth, but truth nonetheless. And it comes about through communication, through dialog.
So yes, creation is involved in truth, but “actualize” seems such a richer word.
By actualize I mean make actual, make real in the here and now, something that wouldn’t be without [human] action.
What about absolute truth (Truth with a big T)? Well, even more, the artist actualizes it, rather than creating it. But perhaps it’s the case, as at least one ancient philosopher suggested: The absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth.
As an artist, I could very well have written “Actualize beauty.” But while there is always something “true” about beauty, the truth is not always [conventionally] beautiful, or pleasing: there are inconvenient truths, unpleasant truths, there is truth speaking to power, and speaking against the possibly baseless truths held dear by other communities or individuals (I mean truths constructed without communication and dialog with one’s selves, one’s neighbors, one’s environment). The truth is: there is injustice in the world, the truth is: we fall well short of our ideals. These truths also the artist must actualize. It’s not all beauty and light, as I might have implied in my Facebook post.
So there you have it. Actualize the truth you want to see in the world.
And do that by seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling life — and speaking. Singing, even.