"The truth is a matter of perception." --William Ginsburg (Monica Lewinsky's lawyer)

The relativity expressed in the nostrum, “it all depends upon whose Ox is being gored” is not a revelation about the malleability of truth, but rather a profound observation about the inflexibility of the inner chimp’s need to be “right,” to win the argument.

Situational ethics, rationalizations and euphemisms do not alter deeper realities of human existence, nor empirical reality, which might be what Don Quixote meant when he said, “facts are the enemy of truth.”

“Facts” are often confused with belief, honesty with cruelty, dogmatism with logical reasoning, and laziness with minimalism. Such is our weakness – we often need to be “right” in order to validate our existence.
So, who gets to decide what is "right?" Who, or what, is the final arbiter?




Downtown Wenatchee, Washington, in reflected infrared.

Truth & Beauty

“When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”–that is all Ye know on earth,
and all ye need to know.”

John Keats, May 1819

I read and re-read this, considered it carefully. It is an assertion that truth and beauty are two sides of the same coin, if not the exact same thing. Is this [a] truth, or overheated poetic license – a kind of euphoric exuberance? Or is it an allusion to a deeper reality that cannot be spoken?

There is a linkage here that I have experienced: When I am working on a problem, I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, if I am not moved by the elegance of the solution, I know it is not the optimal solution. In fact, it might even be completely wrong.

However, truth can be shockingly ugly. The truth of an unexpected cancer diagnosis certainly does not feel beautiful to anyone.

So, what is truth? And what is beauty?