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« ku # 569 ~ complexity and nuance | Main | man & nature # 121 ~ on the road again »

urban ku # 199 ~ the BIG lie

Many realities in Philadelphiaclick to embiggen
Most know the time-honored and time-proven adage regarding lying - if you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, eventually a whole lot of dolts will take it as the truth - and, without a doubt, the biggest whopper ever repeated until it became a truth is the the one that proclaims;

... truth is a phantom, a mental mirage, a concept that is in constant flux. There are no absolutes in life. ~ as repeated most recently by Paul Maxim HERE.

By this reasoning, everything is true - well, actually, since there is no truth maybe that should read as "not true" - as long as someone somewhere believes it to be so. You know what I mean - because the idea that "Jews are swine" was believed to be true by some ... well ... that made it a "truth". Therefore, killing the swine by the millions was OK because ... well ... the murderers believed that "Jews are swine". No truths were violated by these acts, there was nothing wrong because, after all, "truth is a phantom, a mental mirage".

Just like the right-thinker in Pittsburgh who blew away 3 policemen this past weekend because he believed that the Obama led government was going to take his guns and that police could not protect citizens during the economic downturn. Once again, he violated no truths about, oh, let's say, the sanctity of life or, to be less abstract, the laws that govern civil society. No, he was acting out his "truths" so that's just Oh-key-dokey, right?

One way to dispense with any of these waste-of-time disagreements about what is true or not true is to just get rid of words such as "truth" "lie", "right", "wrong", et al. In doing so, we can also eliminate those pesky human thoughts and actions regarding "righting wrongs" or "trying to live an honest life" - I mean, what the hell, apparently Bernie Madoff had it "right".

But, hey, this is a photo blog (not a civil-society pulpit), so let's address Paul's idea that because Robert Frank's pictures were of ...

those things that relate exclusively to his own experiences

... his pictures were somehow "tainted". They couldn't possibly depict any truths about the American condition. There were no Americans living lives of quiet desperation or loneliness or alienation or dispair. Nope. Impossible. Frank could not have possibly seen or pictured these things because he was "tainted" by his own feelings (and we all know that our picturing should be directed by the rules of good photography and definitely not by what one feels about one's self, about the object of the camera's gaze, or the world in general). If he believed that he saw those things, well, it must have been "a phantom" or a "mental mirage" that was a construct of his flawed imaginings because there are no truths. Not to mention the fact that, at the time of Frank's picturing, every American was living the American Dream, right?

To wit, there can be no pictures of truth(s) because someone somewhere - or, for that matter, many someones in many somewheres - will not see them as depictions of their "truths", therefore, there are no truths.

So, by that unassailable reasoning, let me state that I believe that "Relativists are swine", therefore, let the cleansing begin ....

FYI, it should be clearly understood that I do not think that Paul Maxim would advocate or condone the systematic killing of Jews (or anyone else) nor would I want to cleanse him from the planet.

Reader Comments (4)

Would that it were that easy. The mistake you make is the same mistake anyone who takes a stance on either end of the spectrum of this debate makes: you are pretending that 'truth' means one thing. Obviously there are different kinds of truth and different contexts in which to to speak of truth, some open to interpretation others less so without some real stretches of the imagination. You seem to have trouble with the idea that 'truth' and 'real' are just words and behind those words are manifold ideas which can't all be treated the same. Start here: Truth

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark M

Disambiguation! Amen. I think Mark M has it right.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark Muse

I often wonder if the folks who write sentences like, "There's no such thing as truth," live their lives in a constant state of suspense. "I think it's true (but, golly! maybe not) that the floor will support me when I get out of bed." Is every event in their lives treated as another in a continuing series of experiments? And, when they go out to take pictures, why do they take their cameras? Why not take a jar of peanut butter? It's obviously not true that the former will actually take pictures while the latter won't.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstephen

It is absolutely true that there are different opinions
concerning absolute truths, therefore to say that there are no absolute truths is absolutely false.
Now that we know that there is at least 1 absolute truth, we can proceed on our quest to find others.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJimmi Nuffin

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