Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Can we come to an understanding about truth?

I came across a little thing I wrote several years ago and thought you all might find it interesting.

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The true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality; verity; a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like; the state or character of being true; actuality or actual existence; an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude; honesty; integrity; truthfulness: ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience; agreement with a standard or original; accuracy, as of position or adjustment; fidelity or constancy.


Conformity to fact or actuality; a statement proven to be or accepted as true; sincerity, integrity; fidelity to an original or standard; reality, actuality; often truth is that which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.

Truth is a comprehensive term that in all its nuances implies accuracy and honesty.

Veracity is adherence to the truth: Veracity is the heart of morality.

I realize I have given many meanings to the word truth, but it seems that our art should deal with truth, and we should come to some kind of common understanding as to what the word means. I hope others have additional comments and that we can come to the same starting line when defining the meaning of truth.


  1. As fiction writers, on one level, we lie for a living. On another level, we can use our fiction to present basic truths about the human condition that are often "truer" than nonfiction. We can do that even when we write stories primarily meant to entertain, not enlighten... and I think the bottom line may be in our characters, and in making sure they act and react as real, believable human beings would, even if they are in outer space or fighting vampires.

  2. I agree, Troy. Fantastic post, Charlie--one to make you think. I would also add that what comes to mind as far as reading and writing, is that even though some of the stories may be made up tales, many of the human truths that the characters must deal with in their own lives strike a chord within the readers of those tales and make them understand the "truth" within themselves and as it pertains to them as a human being. Same with some movies. You know, I will never forget the very moment in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the movie, when John Wayne says, "You didn't kill Liberty Valance. Think back..." and the smoke takes us back in time. I was a young kid, but that moment when I realized that Ransom DIDN'T kill Liberty, and that Tom had given up EVERYTHING he loved to see Hallie happy...that moment is one I will never forget. It's the same in reading, and in writing. When we see something in print that affects us that strongly, sometimes, we just just have to lay the book down and go, WOW... just think about it, and in those moments, the "truth" of how it affects us and our outlook on the world, on ourselves and on others, just makes us stop and take a deep breath. It's that moment when the world changes and you see it differently. And, I think that's what we writers also strive to achieve without being preachy or too direct--to allow our readers to have that moment and understand that things are not always like we think they are.

  3. Charlie, you never fail to make me think. Truth is a tremendously deep topic, involving both objective and subjective reality. Perception plays such a huge role in human experience that sometimes it seems objective truth becomes almost irrelevant -- perhaps even nonexistent.

    What we think we know as fact changes. Does that mean truth changes, or is truth a constant?

    Good heavens. The day's only half over, and I'm already down a rabbit hole. :-D

  4. Robert McKee always signs his book, STORY, with "Write the truth." That puzzled me for months, since I write lighthearted fiction, and it's all made up. And then I realized that truth is the essence of our existence, and for any story to be compelling, it has to capture that essence.

    Nice post, Charlie. You got me thinking first thing in the morning--not an easy thing to do.

  5. I especially liked this part, Charlie: "ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience." I do that mostly when writing 'historical' fiction. I call it 'enhancing the truth.'