TO THE TRUTH BE TRUE
My darlings, what are we to make of the news that we are now living in a so-called post-truth age? Huh? What the heck does that mean?
I’m reminded of the many millions of our fellow members of the human family who slogged through the long, grim decades of the former Soviet Union, often joking about Pravda (“Truth”), the official newspaper of its ruling Communist Party, and Izvestiya (“News”), the official organ of its paranoid, oppressive government.
They said: “In Pravda, there is no news, and in Izvestiya, there is no truth.”
Nowadays, though, even in supposedly democratic countries, the truth — or the “truth” — has become as fragile as it has become dubious. Regrettably, many people in positions of power and influence in politics and the mainstream media are doing little or nothing to defend truth and its pals, facts and science, from the assaults, distortions, and manipulations (a.k.a. “lies”) that keep coming their way from — guess who? — others in positions of power and influence who are doing all they can to destroy truth — its meaning, value, and role in just about every aspect of society’s common consciousness.
Never mind that this assault inevitably affects everything from government and the law to education, medicine and health care, language, the teaching and understanding of history, and countless aspects of culture.
Art and culture — that’s our brutjournal stomping ground.
Of course, as harmfully as the obscene, perverse, ruthless, dangerous manipulation of the truth has played out in modern times in many parts of the world, what has been unfolding in recent years in the United States is especially unsettling. Given that the U.S. is this publication’s home base, and its society, culture, politics, and economic trends provide some immediate points of reference, it is with off-the-charts alarm and profound sadness that some of us have watched — and railed against — this once-ambitious, now-bungling country’s descent into fascism.
Trump, his family of grifters, and his election-stealing regime of racist, xenophobic, profiteering gangsters might be out of power for the moment, but their well-armed cult is still driving the national social-political narrative with the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from its Dear Leader and with all of the pernicious, insidious fallout that has come in the wake of that unfounded, mendacious claim.
Right now, in the U.S., the starting point of any discussion of any subject really should — and must — be the unequivocal recognition of the fact that what is left of its democratic political institutions and legal-governmental practices is being seriously threatened by the flag-wavin’, gun-totin’, Bible-thumpin’, Trump-worshippin’, fascist-Republican legions, whose goal is nothing less than the crushing of democracy and the installing of its Dear Leader or a similar, reckless successor as a dictator unrestrained by laws or democratic principles.
Why should any of this matter to us members of a community of art-makers, art lovers, and celebrants of the rich diversity of cultural expression there is to savor in the world and of the inestimable rewards of the life of the spirit and of the mind?
It should matter a lot, because it is only in a world shaped by shared perceptions based on facts and by honest, well-meaning, fair-minded discourse — not my-way-or-the-highway threats in the face of some democracy- and truth-hating yokel’s assault rifle — that all forms of artistic and cultural expression can develop and thrive.
For those of us in the arts-and-culture community, truth is like the air all humans must breathe: it’s essential for our survival. As creators, admirers, patrons, and activists of or on behalf of art, culture, the healthy life of inquisitive spirits, and the indefatigable life of the mind, we must honor and protect the truth even as we struggle — with imagination, determination, and creativity — to protect the natural environment and the gifts of Mama Nature that make our planet our home. Those precious natural resources are under siege, too, often from the same destructive forces one finds in the anti-truth brigade.
Now, one last little pensée: That is that, as brutjournal’s founder and editor in chief, Edward M. Gómez, likes to point out, art in all its forms not only helps lead us to a deeper understanding of the truth, especially, when art is most powerful, the truth about what it means to be human; art can — and often does — reveal its own inherent, mysterious, ineffable truths, too.
For some readers — I say this lovingly, not patronizingly! — that observation may come as a surprise. As we go forward as a community of researchers, reporters, writers, and discoverers, we’ll keep such thoughts in mind as we explore, consider, and analyze both what is new and what is percolating in the news.
And that’s the truth.