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Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

Received a small package the other day. On my first glance at it, I couldn’t tell where it was from. It was in packaging that was reminiscent of those used by my longtime friend in Northern Island but the hand lettering on the address was a bit more legible. The return address didn’t help. It listed a city and a postal code but no country or state.

It wasn’t until I spotted the lettering on the affixed stamps– Kiwi Stamp— that I knew from where it originated.

Ah, New Zealand.

It turns out that I had been approached a while back with an inquiry as to whether a New Zealand magazine called Tui Motu InterIslands, an independent Catholic magazine, could use one of my paintings for an upcoming issue. I had consented and had put it in the back of my mind until it appeared on Saturday.

I was pleased to see that this edition dealt with the search for truth. In fact, the title of the painting, Seeking Truth, was the same as the headline used on the cover along with its Maori equivalent, Te Rapu I te Tika. My image accompanied an article that dealt with the use of critical thinking to find truth in the flood of opinion and falsehoods that we are faced with on a daily basis. The author, Paul Tankard, makes a great point in saying that the skepticism that many people hold for journalism of any sort is as naive as those who have a blind acceptance of what they read online or in print.

The name of the American president* was mentioned several times through the issue which was not a surprise given that the subject was truth. Obviously, this manchild’s tenuous relationship with the truth ( and his love affair with misstatements, half-truths and outright lies) obviously has had a rippling effect on the rest of the world, one that has them concerned about the future viability of truth.

As the writer, Binoy Kampmark, of another article on the effects of unchecked lies stated: The tissue that binds communities matters; the untruth tears it. And a community unable to detect lies is, according to renowned US journalist Walter Lippman, one without liberty.

From here in the US to every far point on this planet, we are at a dangerous point in history. The folks in New Zealand understand this. How we see and determine the truth may well determine our future. Real engagement along with critical examination is needed more than ever if we are going to have a future based in truth.

Truth is righteousness.

So, let’s make seeking truth our mission. As my friends in New Zealand put it–Te Rapu I te Tika.

Thanks to Tui Motu InterIslands for including my work in your fine magazine. Nice to see the Red Tree in that context.

 

 

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GC Myers- Freed ThoughtThe omnipotence of evil has never resulted in anything but fruitless efforts. Our thoughts always escape from whoever tries to smother them.

Victor Hugo

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I call this new painting, 10″ by 20″ on panel, Freed Thought.

Like many people, I am concerned with what is happening in this country and around the world as ideas such as nationalism and authoritarianism take hold in more and more places.  That is a scary thought when you consider the horrors that took place in the first part of the last century–world wars, civil wars and genocide– as a result of these ideologies.

Perhaps we are just far enough removed from that time that we allow ourselves to conveniently forget that bit of history. Or think that it doesn’t apply here and begin to believe that this time will be different, somehow treating us to a much more pleasant result.

I think a lot of people fall into that second category, the It Can’t Happen Here camp. That is easy to understand and easy to swallow, not requiring much work or thought.

Keep your head down, don’t make waves or ask too many questions, and it will all be fine.

Unfortunately, that is the fodder for those with evil intent.  To those who seek control, who want to rule over— not govern–people, this unquestioning attitude is as enabling as the ardor of their most loyal adherents.  They are the most easily managed and most easily convinced because they don’t want to stand out alone, away from the others in any way.

Those with evil intent then try to keep this easily led herd away from those who disbelieve, who choose to remember history and see the ghosts of the past in the actions of the present.  Those who would stop them from achieving their goals– both publicly stated and those whispered in the darkness. This is done by controlling the message, creating false realities and fostering doubt in one’s own observations and beliefs.  Destroy trust in all institutions and all information except for that coming from the singular ruling voice.

Oh, it can happen here.

But I take some solace in the words above from Hugo and from history itself. Every movement, however powerful and far reaching, that is based on the darker angels of greed, deception, and exclusion eventually fails. An empire based on falsehood is unsustainable and will eventually succumb to truth. Truth and thought can never be fully controlled. They will always find a way to break free.

The downside in all of these cases is that many, many people are ultimately hurt along the way. And I worry that this is the direction in which we are headed.

That is why it is so important to come clear of the other trees that shade your views.  Stand freely and ask the questions that need to be asked and answered.  Remember that every evasion from a question is a step away from the truth. The truth has nothing to hide, doesn’t need to be concealed or evaded.

A thought based in truth will always stand tall and will not be obscured.

So, for god’s sake, ask the questions and demand the answers. But most of all, use the power of thought and think.

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pinocchio_shrekI’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible. 

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the truth and lies lately.  It’s hard to not do so given the current administration’s adoption of using falsehood as the most important component of their strategy in dealing with the press and public.

Every day we are hearing numerous statements and “facts” that are bewildering to behold in that they are so easily proved to be false. I think they are basing this strategy on the old adage that says a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

The lie moves out there into the great unknown and remains even after it is proven to be false.  The very existence of the statement, even though it is absolutely a lie, is proof enough of its reality for the uninformed.

These are lies that have purpose. These are not innocent misstatements or poor word choices. There is motive. They are meant to do damage, to create effects such as confusion and division.

This is some high level lying, my friends. It’s a world away from the adolescent lies that Holden Caulfield spoke of in the passage at the top of the page.

And a world away from the many, many lies I have told in my life.

You see, I ‘m a confessed and dedicated lifelong liar.

If you ask most people if they lie, they are going to say no.  Most likely it will be an indignant NO! that comes with a glare and a little spittle on their lips like you just tried to stab their baby with a fork.

But if I am asked that question I always tell the truth–Yes, I am a liar.

I heard many lies early on from well seasoned and highly convincing liars.  It was an apprenticeship of sorts.  I learned to fib to get what I wanted, to avoid blame and responsibility, to make others feel better and to cover my inadequacies and my shames.  Sometimes they were petty lies like those of Holden Caulfield, lies for the sake of lying where I would do it simply because I could.  It was just a small thrill to create a false reality that I knew would most likely go undetected.

To the kid’s mind, there was no harm or consequence involved. But of course, that is only a lie we tell ourselves to make it all seem okay. It did damage. Even those little fibs stressed my moral boundaries and acted as a gateway to a higher level of larger, more harmful lies as I moved into adulthood.

Along with this came that ability to rationalize the falsehoods that would temper the sense of shame I began to feel as my life progressed. Every lie became part of bigger construct, an ever growing tower built of lies. I am not going to get into specifics here but I will say that there came a point when when I didn’t know if the words coming out of my mouth beforehand were going to be the truth or another addition to my tower of lies. It came down to whatever was the easiest course through the situation at hand.

Fortunately, and this is not a lie, the shame I felt in living this way prevailed. I became a born again believer in truth, even the hard ones that I once avoided with all sorts of lies. It was liberating in so many ways.  Life became simpler with truth.

My tower of falsehoods was disassembled and I now reside in a snug and modest bungalow of relative honesty. I say relative because I have found that in dealing with my father’s dementia there are acceptable lies that we allow ourselves to tell so as not to alarm him and to ease his anxieties. That rationale does make it any easier to accept and I often find myself wracked with guilt.

I also use the term relative because lying is like a monkey on your back that will not let go.  Once in a while I feed the monkey exaggerations ( I think a million or a million and a half people came to my last gallery talk) and meaningless and ridiculous fibs such as saying that I got out of bed at 6:30 when I know for fact that it was 6:15.

That satisfies the monkey for now but someday soon I hope to send the monkey to a farm at some remote place where I will hopefully not visit it at all ever again. I am working on it. That is the truth.

You would think that with this long personal relationship with lying, I might find something admirable in the artistry of the liars we’re experiencing today.

I don’t.  We can’t rationalize it nor can we accept it as a normal mode of operation.  Every lie must be challenged, every lie must be counted and displayed for the world to witness.

To tolerate it is to choose to live on a very tall tower of lies. And that is a dangerous and precarious perch for us all.

Think about it before you shrug off yet another obvious lie from those who want to govern you.

I have to go. I have a Liars Anonymous meeting that starts 30 minutes from now.  That’s a lie– it starts in an hour. Liar!

 

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GC Myers- Truth Shines ThroughThe truth remains the same in every version of this world. It is a constant.

It cannot be obscured nor hidden for long.

And while we may be distracted from that which is truth, sometimes by pretty colors or words that poorly mimic the real thing, truth remains at the ready.

It needs nothing while it waits unlike the false truths that must be fed fear and selfishness in order to exist. Truth is an inextinguishable ember that is always ready to flame brightly when given the air and space in which it can breathe to life.

Yes, there is truth.  It’s out there and it’s waiting to bring light.

And to those who mishandle the truth, who try to forge it into something that falsely serves them, it will bring an all encompassing inferno that will leave them in ashes.

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If I’d thrown in some scripture, that might sound like I was auditioning to be a Baptist minister, huh?

Well, maybe the truth needs a little sermonizing because a large part of the flock these days seems to be distracted by a gold plated idol who feeds them a pablum of fear and selfishness.

And that’s what I see in this new piece, a 12″ by 6″ painting on panel,that I call Truth Shines Through.  Truth stands in here is in the guise of the Red Tree rising like a flame over and through the colors that seek to pull your eye away from it.

The Red Tree is the truth and reality of this piece and it burns brightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yesterday I wrote about how the truth, particularly as it applies to the news, has become a subjective item.  It seems to be more about how we feel about something rather than what the facts provide. This in turn allows falsehoods to become accepted as truth in the eyes of some despite all evidence to the contrary.  It’s an unfortunate scenario that may have already affected us  and may create awful consequences at some point in the all too near future.

But you can’t judge the facts like you’re judging a piece of art.  The facts should not be affected by how you feel about them or whether you like or dislike them.  They stand as they are.  Can you imagine being innocent and on trial?  All of the evidence and testimony proves your innocence but you are convicted because the jury felt that you were nonetheless found guilty.  The jury just didn’t like something about you.

Unfortunately, that’s not that far-fetched an analogy.  

I thought I’d run the post below from a few years back that talks about how the emotional subjectivity is appropriate in art, where your feeling is as important as the facts.

Painting is a blind man’s profession.  He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.

–Pablo Picasso

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I love this quote from Picasso.  I think that is what all art really is– an expression of  feeling.  Emotion.  I know my best work, or at least the work that I feel is most directly connected to who I truly am as a human being, is always focused on expressing emotion rather than depicting any one place or person or thing.  At its best, the  piece as a whole becomes a vehicle for expression and the subject is merely a focal point in this expression.  The subject matter becomes irrelevant beyond that.  It could be a the most innocuous object,  a chair or a tree in my case.  It doesn’t  really matter because the painting’s emotion is carried by the painting as a whole-  the colors, the texture, the linework, the brushstrokes, etc.

In other words, it’s not what you see but what you feel.

I think many of  Vincent Van Gogh‘s works are amazing example of this.  They are so filled with emotion that you often don’t even realize how mundane the subject matter really is until you step back to analyze it for a moment.  I’ve described here before what an incredible feeling it was to see one of his paintings  for the first time, how it seemed to vibrate with feeling, seeming almost alive on the wall.

It was a vase of irises.

A few flowers in a pot. A floral arrangement.  How many hundreds of thousands of such paintings have been created just like that?  But this Van Gogh painting resonates not because of the subject matter, not because of precise depiction of the flowers or the vase.  No, it was a deep expression of his emotion, his wonder at the world he inhabited, inside and out.

I also see this in a lot of music.  It’s not the subject but the way the song is expressed.  How many times have we heard overwrought , schmaltzy ballads that try to create overt emotion but never seem to pull it off?  Then you hear someone interpret a simple song with deep and direct emotion  and the song soars powerfully.  I often use Johnny Cash‘s last recordings, in the last years  and months before his death, as evidence of this.  Many were his  interpretations of well known songs and his voice had, by that time, lost much of the power of his earlier days.  But the emotion, the wonder, in his delivery was palpable.  Moving.

Likewise, here’s Chet Baker from just a few months before his death.  He, too, had lost the power and grace of youth due to a life scarred by the hardship of drug abuse and violence.  But the expression is raw and real.  It makes this interpretation of  Little Girl Blue stand out for me.

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Chet BakerMaybe it’s the morning here.  Dark and somber sky with an unyielding flatness in its gray.  Very quiet morning as though nothing really wants to stir and begin this sultry summer week.  A fans hums, trying to move a little cooler air through the studio and I am sitting with my coffee.  Chet Baker‘s Every Time We Say Goodbye is  playing above it all, accentuating the gray mood with its deeply spaced tones.  I’m not the biggest jazz guy but there I do like what I like and for certain moods, like this morning’s, nothing fills the bill like Chet Baker.

I think it’s one of those instances of pure expression, where the art and the individual meld.  It’s not put on, not contrived.  It’s real and felt deeply, his own truth– all that you can ask from any artist.  I think we all aspire to a true expression of ourselves, to create something that we can say genuinely represents who we really were during our time here.

I know that has been a driving force for me.  Sometimes, it seems close to telling my truth and sometimes it feels just a bit shaded or slanted away from reality.  Maybe it’s a case of hoping that the motivation, the goal,  becomes the reality.

I don’t know.  Maybe, that’s just a bit too much thinking for any Monday morning, especially a sleepy gray July one.  Here’s Chet.

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