John F. Kennedy’s quote resonates deeply, reflecting the capacity of the Arts to shape collective human experience at the macro and micro levels. Simply put, we shape and are shaped by the life stories we create in our dreams, art and words. So where does Truth fit into the equation? What is the relationship between Truth and Art?
In attempting to answer to this question, Professor/author Stephen Levine, refers to the work philosopher Martin Heidegger. Levine writes that for Heidegger truth was a form of unconcealment
Truth as unconcealment, in Heidegger’s thinking, is contained already in the etymology of the Greek word for truth, ‘alethia‘. Lethe, the river of death and forgetfulness, designates the darkness and mystery in which Being dwells. To allow something to emerge from concealment, a-lethia, means to become aware of the background from which things emerge (Levine, p. 27, Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy).
According to Levine, this means that “Truth happens: it is not a timeless realm to which we must aspire: rather , it occurs within history and is given to us as our destiny.” We do not create Truth, we do not will truth into existence. The same goes for Art. As a manifestation of Truth “art has the capacity to give meaning and direction to human existance”. Art is the place where we come home to ourselves, where things appear as what they are, and where what we value emerges.