Which is more true: facts or art?
Facts bring a kind of shotgun approach to truth, observations of details or moments without context.
The minute we try to craft facts into a story we are required to apply our own biases, deciding which to include, which to omit, and how to link them with applied context. The basis for our report may be factual, but the construction of it must always be subject to the limits of our observations, to our values and our assumptions.
Art brings a cannonball approach to truth, the symbolic representation of our rounded observations. In art, the context is always an attempt to share a vision, to capture our sense of the world in a way that others can glimpse it.
Facts hold bits of observed truth while art holds our acquired wisdom in the best way that we can communicate it, a wider, panoramic view which looks deeper and longer.
As humans, we construct our expression in the world as art, a collage of what we value, from ethnic traditions to cosmic visions. We work to show what is inside of us on the outside of us, mixing inner & outer ease & expression (1994).
The one thing I want to say to you about transgender people, about homosexual people, or any “queer” person is simple: They are trying to find a way to live out the truth of their lives, the calling of their hearts. (1997)
Are humans best defined by the details of their history & biology, or are they best expressed by their choices of identification, action and expression? Are they best understood by looking at the facts or at their own creation of their life, their own art?
For me, the clothing I wear that reveal me as visibly trans are vestments, garments that reveal my connection to God. Like any clerical garb, they mark me as someone who has taken up the calling, choosing to serve my God in the world.
Every trans expression is the triumph of inner knowledge over banality. We claim our own knowledge and beauty over the standard, routine, issued drab uniforms that just allow us to disappear.
There is an old trope that says the human body has a comparatively small value when reduced to chemical components. More modern analyses value the highest level components of the body rather than the lowest reduction, the price of organs, sophisticated compounds and so on. The resulting number is much, much larger, because the value isn’t in our elements but in the way we put them together.
Artists understand that value. It may take the same amount of paint and materials to make a decorative painting as it takes to make a masterpiece, but the masterpiece is much more valuable. A mediocre dinner may use the same ingredients as a sublime one, but the memory of the sublime dinner will last, resonating in our experience. The art we create is how we turn elements into magic.
For those who want to reduce humans to their lowest common components, their facts, the real value in human lives is discounted, tossed out.
Which is more true, facts or art? Are we at best just our raw materials, points of measurement, or are we synergistic, creating ourselves in a way that is much more than the value of our parts?
The truth in artifice is the wisdom, intelligence, and skill that we use to add value to the off the shelf issued bits of a life. It is how we create elegance and artistry by using what we learned from trial and failure to create the divine.
I have faced those who want to reduce other people so much that they remove the power from them in an attempt to remove their magic.
Those people, though, miss the way that humans have moved beyond mud and muck to create art, art that carries with it the spark of human brilliance.
Artifice often reveals powerful truth that simple listings of facts just conceal.