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Reply To: Truth or Consequences,” with Gabrielle Basha, MFA”

Gabrielle Basha

    Stephen, thanks as always for the warm welcome — it’s a joy to connect with the community!

    And you’re not off-base a bit. I especially like your comparison with the Tao. That, to me, is what makes the concept of truth such a tricky one, and gets to the heart of the disconnect: do we even have shared definitions to the words we use? We’d hope there’s overlap, but what I wrote about this week has been percolating for a while, and I suspect is a relatable question for many of us, because it feels less and less like we have anything in common with the people we disagree with.

    The difference between what I see as truth vs. capital-T Truth (which you quite rightly identified as archetypal) is best explained, wouldn’t you know it, by one of my favorite Campbell quotes from his conversation with Bill Moyers. While I use truth as an analogue for universal fact, the archetypal Truth is the type we find in story—emotional truth, the truth of the human experience, etc.:

    “Mythology is not a lie; mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth –– penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words, beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”

    If I had another thousand words, I might have gotten even more granular about all t/Truth’s flavors, because that’s really where we find ourselves now. I almost feel like Campbell’s description of Truth has been weaponized, or at the very least conflated, in a really unhelpful way, with fact. A good comparison could be emotions: Our emotions are real—we feel them, they impact and are impacted by our physiology, they can steer us if we don’t keep them in check—but they are not reality. They’re a response to reality, but they themselves are not reality. Archetypal Truth, I think, is like this in the way it relates to fact—and we can share Truth through story.