Chaos. That is the first word that came to my mind when I saw Julie Mehretu's painting Entropia: Construction. I took a closer look at the painting trying to comprehend what it wanted to show me, trying to understand what was going on but I couldn't. There was so much happening that I didn't know which part of the painting to look at first. I felt lost. That is when I knew this had to be the piece of art that would help me explain what truth is for me. Connecting Julie Mehretu's work with my own experiences and ideologies I will try to express what truth is and what it means to me.
The painting I chose is a depiction of the world. Nothing is linear and symmetrical; nothing has a predictable and logical flow. There is no control and understanding over what is happening. Chaos rules this world. That is exactly how I feel about my world. At this point in my life I feel I have no control over anything. I have no idea where I am going to be five years from now and I find it impossible to measure the importance of events occurring in my life right now. Looking both at the painting and at my life I feel the same way, uncertain and confused.
I realized one thing staring at this piece of art. Not being able to figure out what is going on made this painting so much more interesting. Making the effort to understand, trying and failing and then trying again, is more intriguing and fun than simply knowing the answer. I realized that not knowing and trying to find out is better than knowing.
When talking about truth, Nietzsche says that our senses lead us away from it. He says that we will never acquire it because we are not looking for it in the right way. To me that seems more of a blessing than a curse because as Homer once said, "It's about the journey, not the destination."
Different people will give different opinions on what they feel the painting is trying to depict. A first look at the painting and I could already see a valley at the heart of the painting where everything seemed to converge. On asking my friend what he could pick out from the photo, he came up with a sky high building from the same painting. In other words, only the painter holds the truth on what the painting depicts.
Truth relates to this painting in the same way. Most concepts are human inventions that people are made to believe or rather that are driven down people's throats as the truth. An individual comes up with an idea that he very much believes in and causes people to concur with it. It is later on accepted as an ideal fact even though most of the time they do not correspond to reality.
From a closer view, the painting invites us to get lost within the fragile traces and trails of floating, overlapping lines (Mehretu). It is a rather captivating site to look at as the eye keeps roaming from one end to the other without a clue of where to start from. In the same way, life provides us with so many 'truths' that we sometimes get lost trying to find ourselves. This to me gives life a sense of adventure drawing attention away from the severity of issues and giving it a humorous edge.
The originality of the painting also struck my mind. Different people can bring out the same idea Julie Mehretu had in mind in a totally different perspective. In the same way, life poses different truths all serving the same purpose. Some people however want to make their opinions or rather their self-proclaimed truths sound like the ultimate. The variety of truths by people is what according to me gives life more meaning.
The same way the eyes glide over the painting and it all seems like an illusion, a thorough look at some truths in life and they seem to be out of place. We sometimes allow ourselves to be deceived on the basis of words murmured by those we term as intellects. We allow ourselves to be caged in their ideas simply because their knowledge in the issues of life seems to be vast. This is not supposed to be the case as nobody has mastered everything about life and no amount of intellect can enable one to perceive himself totally
The patches of detail in the painting seem to draw the most focus of the onlooker. In the same way, the areas in life that draw most attention are the areas that bear most controversy. Areas like this are particularly those like religion that almost everyone bears their own opinion that they would like others to take up as the truth. Their belief is guided by faith although others seem to have historical evidence. The focus on those areas is as a result of clustered facts just like the cramped area in the painting draws the most attention.
We cannot tell where the drive with such a painting came from. In the same way, it is almost impossible to tell where the drive for the truth comes from. From my analysis, it seems to me like the truth is basically a lie imposed by society provided a majority of the people stand with it. It normally starts as an illusion but after a while of its being in use it is accepted by a group of people the society and eventually it goes on to become a universal truth.
The painter Julie Mehretu when doing this obviously among her many goals aimed to impress her audience with her creativity and originality (Museum). Among the many reasons people give opinions and term them as the truth is usually their bid to give an impression to whosoever they target of their intellectual prowess. Their idealism which to some is like an obsession drives them to say things not really based on their truth but on account of their ego feeling that they should be the ones dictating things.
It is rather unfortunate that we sometimes take people's views and hold on to them like they are indeed the utter truth. Some people even base their identity on certain ideas they have been made to believe are true. They hold on to these so-called truths and give them reason to justify what they become they are without taking time to look and see whether what has been said is justifiable.
Looking at the picture, I cannot help but marvel at man's ability to conceptualize an idea into an image. For this same reason, people have been able to come up with truths that suite their situations. Provided one has an idea of what they want, one can always come up with a truth to justify their every action. Nothing beats logic in the realm of truth as everyone holds the right to voice their opinion. If they have the convincing ability then they can always get away with it as the truth.
When I think of truth, the term 'conscience' cannot help but pop up in my mind. Every truth to me is supposed to go through a test of the conscience. It your conscience is okay with it then it is probably the truth. If it has doubts about it then it is questionable and should not be labeled as true. Nature allows for one's mind to justify or rather judge situations unconsciously and if questionable it is probably not the truth.
The chaos or the sense of disorganization in a way depicts what surrounded the artist at the time she did this work. This also applies in real life in that what we believe is the truth is determined by our surroundings. The environment we live in, the people we spend most of our time with all determine our perception of the truth most times. They govern how we view life and our takes on the major areas of our lives.
In most cases I find myself exchanging truths for illusions especially where the truth does not auger well with the situation at hand. In that the truth seems to be dynamic because people will always go for what suits their situation. If a truth is too harsh to execute in a certain situation, many people like me opt to go with the less harsh even though it is only but an illusion.
There appears to be not set boundaries or clear paths that outline what the truth is supposed to be based on. Everyone seems to have set their own standards with most people basing it on their knowledge, reason and intellect while others rely on mere culture passed on lineage after lineage not really knowing why things tend to be done the way they usually are.
The truth has a social aspect to it. Individuals will always want to maintain themselves against other individuals. People will always want to go as per the compact majority even when fully aware that they are headed the wrong way. Provided the larger crowds says it is to the left, then the left remains the right direction even when there is a ditch right ahead. This is because man will always want to co-habit with the herd for convenience.
Just like this painting holds the ability to hold your emotions captive, in the same way the truth or rather the opinions people hold as truths have the power to hold one captive and to regulate a lot of things. These opinions after long use seem obligatory to people and they are left with no choice but to allow themselves to be governed by them.
No painting can be devoid of emotion and this one is no exception no matter how far-fetched it may be. It is ridiculous for an artist to separate their emotional life from their work. In the same way, every aspect of truth has an emotional attachment behind it. A person's emotional status at the time their executing what they term as the truth determines a lot the decisions they make at the time. Just like a painter's work varies with their emotions, a person's judgment varies with their emotion too.
I did a survey on what people could come up with from this painting. A sample of the people found great meaning in this painting this especially being those with artistic eyes. Another bunch of them found no meaning at all and in fact termed it as non-sense. In the same way to some a certain truth may sound very logical while to others it may be a lot of foolishness. For this reason I retain my view that truth remains to be unique to individuals. It is variable and thus it is rather hard to define or rather set standards for gauging the truth.