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Truth in Art - or - Found Ghosts and Storms at Sea

Truth, to me, is any fact, thought, emotion, or event that holds significance/value and that has the risk of being covered or forgotten yet still yearns to be accepted, appraised, developed, or simply remembered. Truth helps us avoid repeating mistakes other people have made, and helps us better understand how dynamic we are as humans. Truth can be a reminder that you still have something you need to fix, while you still can. Truth lives inside all of us, and no doubt also fades away inside of us. This is one reason we need art, to help lure out and document the meaning of these truths that get buried and die with us. Aristotle on Art: “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”

So as artists, we can use truth to help people uncover and confront the facts, thoughts, emotions, and events that are real to them. This is where, by using truth, we get a chance to connect with our audience on a deeper level beyond entertainment, and help them start healing if the truth is heavy or pushed back. Using truth, heavy truth, we help release emotions and create a cathartic experience - believed by Aristotle to “be good for the soul and society”.

Truth is like a ghost that not everyone will be able to see but who’s presence everyone can feel. We, artists, are the ones sharing our apparitions. Pablo Picasso said, “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.” As artists, we can shape and color the message we want to establish or the story we want to tell, it may reflect a very specific truth to us, the artist, but once the music and lyrics are heard and seen they stop being just our specific truth and shapeshift into an equally meaningful truth for another person. We aren't designing the exact truth (ghost) our audience meets, but we have influence over which haunted corridor in their mind, heart, or known history they go down and we emotionally guide them there. This is where the truth gains extra value for us, it’s not a precise tool but it’s powerful. Plus, it might make some people perceive our art as being better.

Knowing that truth can be as dynamic and varied as the audience, I use truth through metaphors that apply to my message and story, but are formless enough for each listener to figuratively squint their mind’s eye and see their own specific truth take form. Everyone who’s fortunate to live set increments of time (10yrs, 20 yrs, etc.) has likely experienced similar events - heartbreak, betrayal, love, loss, victory. These events have their own specific details, but also general emotions and thoughts that someone going through or surviving these or other similar events gets imprinted into who they are.

I write music leaning towards the general emotions and thoughts that I intend to act as a type of net to capture and help guide the listener to a more stable place - but I don’t lie about the situation or promise things that are unrealistic in my music. I believe that for people going through emotional times, especially those of us who deal with mental illness, music and truth become a lifeline that reminds us who we are, what we can do, and who we want to be after the storm calms and the sun comes up. I use truth as hope, a beacon for those walking directionless in the emotional and mental fog that life brings to everyone.

Some truths - just for fun: not everyone is privileged, families can be toxic, wounds do heal - and it’s okay to be scarred, you will feel lonely in crowds from time to time, no one really knows what is going on (reality is a trip), altruism saves lives and makes heroes, enjoy and embrace everything you can because everything ends.

 

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