there is some truth over there under that sudden feeling that ripples like heat on highways


I babble on about truth a lot. I use that word: truth. I throw it around and swing it from my mouth. It seems like such a natural word to sum things up: what we strive for to have be part of the things that are important to us. If someone asks me what I find pleasing about a piece of art, I will answer "truth". If someone asks me my purpose in life, I will answer "truth". 

I realize, though, that the word is pretty tainted. It's like "awesome". I've always felt that awesome when used appropriately is a great word; it can be so dialed in to something that elicits not only admiration, but fear and apprehension as well. Unfortunately the sentence "that ______ was/is totally awesome" is a phrase that is heard far too often (I say it. I admit it. I probably even throw a "like" in there for no reason whatsoever.) and it bastardizes what the word can mean at its heart. Words, of course, change based on usage and repeated context so that over time they contain their own histories; their own skeletons in their closets built of letters. 

Truth, as a word, has many skeletons I've come to realize. For instance, people living through the 60's can associate it with a social movement where everyone spoke of The Truth. For me, then, to use the word I need to step aside, shake out all of its pockets, give it a shower, stand it against a wall, and have a little photoshoot. Maybe apply some eyeliner to its tired eyes. I need to pose it and present it for the word I find it to be.

So what do I think of when I think of truth?

I think I first started talking about truth in the context of incompleteness. I've always been drawn to Kurt Godel's theorems of incompleteness, one of which states that any formal theory that contains basic arithmetic, will have statements that it can create, which will be true but unprovable as such. In order to place this unprovable truth inside of the theory, the theory must be encapsulated in a new theory. This new theory, however, will have further unprovable truths, so that we must go on and on, encapsulating till the end of time, never having created a complete theory. For me, I saw this process as the process of being human. If we think of any system as begin analogous to formal theories as laid out in the Godel's theorem, we can think about ourselves as a system (we contain arithmetic, don't we?). And this system, us, has statements that are true but we can't prove. These can be spiritual. These can be about love. These can be selfish. Whatever these statements are, though, we must encapsulate ourselves inside a new self in order to allow that truth to be part of us. We must create constructs -- cultural objects -- to support our truths; to reflect the proof that we have created for ourselves.

In this first look into truth, the word really came to me, I didn't go looking for it. It floated out of the language of the theorem itself, and nestled into my lap; a word dressed as a friendly cat. It lead me to the idea of Truth, the full encapsulation of a theory, as being this thing that we can never touch. We aren't meant to. Truth will always be truth with a lowercase 't' for us. Yet we buttress it over and over again through our lives, hoping to eventually climb the enormous tower it is and look out from the vantage point it provides.

At this point I started to move away from the idea of buttressing and building, since truth is slippery and doesn't really afford continuity in the way these metaphors imply. I started thinking about dimension. Dimension in the way I'm thinking about it, is a portion of a perspective. A single dimension contains a way that we look at the world. We have a dimension for how we treat strangers, a dimension for how we care for a friend, a dimension on our feelings towards pit bulls. At any one particular moment, a moment at the intersection of many dimensions, we have a view of the world with each of the dimensions giving a portion of the perspective we hold. And I think the move towards truth is the continual shifting and broadening of dimension. It is taking the day and turning it a bit to notice the corners you can look around, the flatness that you once saw as being complete (like Flatland itself). 

But dimension in this sense is not how I think of physical dimension, because dimension in this sense means that new dimensions can swallow up or replace entire sets of the dimensional space I am in. As I find new dimensions and build on the truth that I have experienced, these dimensions can make superfluous or unnecessary previous dimensions. I think about it like opening a box and finding my whole childhood in that box. All of it. Or peaking in the fridge and seeing the view from Voyager 1. The pieces added don't have to be smaller than the space that seems to be available for them. Truth has a way of making small spaces larger than any space I have ever been in. Larger than any space it has made itself known.

The ending point of this search for truth in this light, is a point in time were my perspective is dimensionless. Where there is no coordinate system, but just a moment in time that is perfectly smooth. I think about how people who believe in God say that He is love. If I were to believe in a God I would think He should also contain Truth. Perfect and complete. And saying Love is Truth, is something that I can chew on. Because love is something that seems to have rightly occupied humans since they could first stand and look one another in the eye. I also think about other religions where to be awakened or enlightened is the goal that is sought after. To be perfectly present. And this also echoed in the idea of dimensions to me; to cast something completely away is sometimes just the same as being engulfed by it.

Whether it is Love or Presence, I think we all seek Truth. And what we value in our lives, what we love in our lives, what we surround ourselves with in our lives, are those things which bring us closer to truth.