If You're Looking for Truth, Don't Look Here...
I hadn't intended to revisit this topic, but here we are. So stay with me, because I'm going to digress a bit before I start. In my office, my home office, I have two large posters which have followed me through life since my early twenties. Both are black and white photos. One is of Bob Dylan, leaning against his hotel window in London, 1965, the other is John Lennon from the 1971 "Imagine" sessions, cigarette in hand and a three-day beard. I'm a songwriter in my spare time, and both of those guys were early influences of mine.
So I was listening to Imagine after a long, long hiatus, and the song "Gimmie Some Truth" was on. And as Lennon's lyrics play, I'm thinking, "What truth is it you want, John?" and then, "So if you only want some, how much is that?" I'm not going to go too far down this track, but here's part of the chorus: "No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of Tricky Dicky/Is gonna Mother Hubbard Soft Soap me..." The assumption one can make is that non-hippies, and those allied with Nixon have no truth to give. I've always liked the song, and I've been to Pearl Jam concerts when Vedder sings it. But as I've thought about it, I'm wondering if truth is all it's cracked up to be.
In Bob Dylan's Chronicles, v.1 he says this about truth, and I'm inclined to agree: "Truth was the last thing on my mind, and even if there was such a thing, I didn't want it in my house. Oedipus went looking for the truth and when he found it, it ruined him. It was a cruel horror of a joke." Of course Dylan is known to obscure truth with all manner of falsehoods.
So here I am, back in the rabbit hole. I'm not sure what to do with truth anymore. Is it more about rightness? If the truth is going to destroy someone or something, is it always important to make it known? Or, are there some truths we must keep quiet out of self interest? If that is the case is this honest practice? Perhaps truth is merely a weapon to wield, as are lies. The difference is, that lies can be more vulnerable--or are they? And is the opposite of a truth always a lie? If there's no way to substantiate/verify truth or lie, is the thing either?
So how much of learning is predicated upon truth? How much is predicated on facts? Is there a difference? Facts by nature are intended to be verifiable. Truth should be, but when one speaks the word "truth" there is also the implication that there is a superior, unassailable quality to this concept, a sort of veneration with the idea. Facts seem to have some more tangible physical quality that objectifies them.
Back in the early 2000's I wrote a paper for a course I was taking. I wish I could remember the article I cited, the author, etc., but I can't. What I do remember was that there was a dean of Education at some prestigious college or another (can you see how well I'm building up my credibility?) whom I had quoted. She had stated that there was no reason for kids to study what the longest river in the world was, because they'd be able to google it if for some bizarre reason they ever needed to find out. At the time I was horrified. I still find it unsettling, but have had almost twenty years of connectedness in my life to attenuate that horror.
So where is this coming from? I think perhaps with this disembodiment of knowledge, it becomes incumbent upon a consumer of truth (see the language? Truth is a commodity, a product!) to determine the veracity of an alleged truth. So then, what does that consumer predicate that decision making process upon? What is the gold standard? Does one know truth or feel it?