Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Search for Truth

I'm about halfway through a comic that my fiancé borrowed from a friend.  It's called Logicomics: An Epic Search for Truth, and it's following the life of the logician Bertrand Russel as he is trying to recreate mathematics from the ground up as something provable, something concretely True from the foundations up.  So far it's very good, and I'm enjoying it very much.  In his early life, Russel was exposed to proving things as true and seized upon it, dedicating his life to logic.  In this story, logic and madness are inexplicably linked, and there is a dance between the two.  Quite fascinating, really.

I just finished a section of the story where Bertrand and a close friend, a mathematician named Whitehead, have written a volume about logic.  It took them ten years, and they restarted the book from the very beginning four times.  Bertrand is looking for the Truth, for something provable, whereas Whitehead is looking for the truth, and to publish.  I don't know how much of this is historically grounded, but that's the story as I read it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it should.  As writers, we are looking, always, for the Truth.  If we know it or not, we are the ones who look at our fellow man and make judgments upon them, and commit those judgments to the ages in the form of the written word.  We look for the meaning of life, the meaning of love, the meaning of death, the meaning of the universe... and while our arguments may not be logically 'provable', they are, uniquely, human.  Everything you write has some part of the Truth in it.  The one with a capital T.  Every sentence, every page, every emotion that you pluck from your own life and let live on the page is another chance to answer every Why that has ever been asked.

This is also the reason that it takes so much effort and so much time and so much damned courage to give our work away.  Writing, good writing, is hard.  It's painful.  To write with the emotion that will capture your readers, you need to feel that same emotion yourself, and sometimes those emotions come from times that you would rather not relive.  But writers, someone has to.  Our craft isn't logic.  It's far too emotional, too close to our innermost selves.  And there isn't just one Truth out there.  Each time you write, you're writing something that's your truth - and if you search your heart deeply enough, you might just find something that resonates with every other person on Earth.  We're all human, after all.  We all have similar experiences, similar thoughts, similar emotions.  Let yours free!  

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