Does Truth Really Matter?
I have been spending a lot of time mulling over the third book in my Divine Space Pirates trilogy. I like to take the time to daydream about it, and sometimes it's fun - sort of like a private joke with myself. Other times it's depressing.
I wrote the trilogy last year, just tired of all the world events that were going on. Lately, I've been hearing about Fake News and Alternative fact, and the term "post-truth" has been thrown around by people, too. And I have been thinking about this in the context of larger ideas, like the culture wars and politics and relationships and education.
Here's what I think.
I don't think we live in a world where we are post-truth.
I think we actually live in a world where postmodernism is dying. And that's a good thing. We've seen the fruits that it's brought us, and people are rightfully rejecting its philosophy because the practical philosophy is yielding different results from the theory. And there are a lot of problems with postmodern's theories to begin with.
Postmodernism, in a nutshell, is the belief that there is no universal truth, and that all stories should be celebrated, and there are no moral judgments. I laugh at this, because if there is no truth, then that would be the truth, and the result is self-defeating. I also laugh because so many narratives running through the media and culture rely on metanarratives (the feminist narrative is one of the most obvious examples that requires a lot of stories to make their practical application of their theories justified.) Since this is a self-defeating and ultimately doublethink to believe, many people are rejecting it.
But not everyone. This is where people are doing one of two things, and there's a schism in the culture as a result. There is the post-postmodernist crowd, which maintains that postmodernism is still viable, but needs work; and then there are what I call the neomodernists, people who are going back to modernism and adapting it to our times.
So, which one is right? Both can make their arguments, as silly and as illogical as some of them turn out to be.
In this case, I would argue that they both have their flaws, but the neomodernists are more right. It comes back to simple things, really, even if they are not easy things. If you tell a lie forever, does it become the truth? If, as Napoleon said, "history is a set of lies agreed upon," does it matter? I think it's very evident that we have agreed the there is such a thing as truth, and even universal truths (truth in itself has a universal element to it). Now comes the question of whether or not it matters, and how much, and when, and if we have to care about the truth or not.
Complicated, isn't it?
I'm not really joking. It's a hard question to answer, really. Because it does matter, but it's harder to explain why, especially to the postmodernist crowd, who are more likely to find issues with the prospect of truth and absolutes. I also think that the postmodernist crowd is more likely to think of complicated stories and questions and theories to wrap up their disagreements in. That's how narratives are built up, and that's why, if the narratives remain in place for a long time, it becomes harder to dismantle them and put them to rest. Even though the postmodern movement is largely over, the battle remnants remain.
My mom says I think about things like this too much. I agree with her, of course, but I do like that I can ask that question and think it through in terms of stories, and I am grateful for Aerie and Exton in providing me that outlet within the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. I hope people will read it and think about it, too.
Of course, if they don't want to, it's an easy enough read to enjoy without worrying about the state of the world (outside of the book anyway.)
Speaking of my latest work, The Breadth of Creation is finally live! Check it out here!