Some Thoughts About Truth by Madeline L’Engel – Idea Stimulator


In order to allow ourselves to be creative, we have to relinquish control and overcome fear. Why? Because real creativity is life-altering. It threatens the status quo; it make us see things differently. It brings about change, and we are terrified of change.

Human beings are born with a great deal of creativity, and by the age of 12, we’ve lost most of it. The world just slams it out of us. Our teachers and parents tell us that what comes from our imagination isn’t true; it’s just “imaginary.” I think that what’s imaginary is truer than what’s “real.” Adults prefer facts, because facts are limited. Like truth, imagination is unlimited, so many people are afraid of it.

Go outside at night in the country, where the sky is very clear. Then look up. Each one of those tiny points in the sky is a flaming sun. We’re a tiny part of an enormous universe, which may be one of many universes. No one really knows for sure what’s out there. So we use our imagination. Imagination allows us to ask big questions — questions that scare us, and for which we don’t have easy answers.

We live in a wild universe — a universe in which the truth is frightening. My son died last December. He was only 47 years old. That’s scary, and it’s lousy, but it’s true. Creativity comes from accepting that you’re not safe, from being absolutely aware, and from letting go of control. It’s a matter of seeing everything — even when you want to shut your eyes.


Madeline L’Engel

1919 – 2007

What did the well-meaning caretakers in your life tell you was not true? How did it effect how you create? If you could speak freely to those caretakers, what would you want to tell them?

Write ten questions that are so huge that you are not likely to find easy answers?

Thoughts about the art of portraiture. Some will not recognize the truthfulness of my mirror. Let them remember that I am not here to reflect the surface (this can be done by the photographic plate), but must penetrate inside. My mirror probes down to the heart. I write words on the forehead and around the corners of the mouth. My human faces are truer than the real ones
Paul Klee

If photography liberated the portrait artist to look inside — for essences — than how has the portrait photographer been liberated by digital art? How may Paul Klee’s art be truer than the real person’s face? What does he know? In what ways may words and pictures be blended to create the truthfulness Klee discusses?

We have art so that we may not perish by the truth.
Friedrich Nietzsche

How does art keep us from the truth? How does art reveal truth? If art was forbidden would we perish? What would that look like? Write a description of a world without art.