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‘Vérité’

I’ve started to notice something strange about the word that I’ve been using as the banner above my work. After we’ve got past the inevitable pronunciation issues (it’s “véri…” as in ‘very’ not “verite” as in ‘polite’), we get to the problem of definition.

The word ‘vérité’ comes from the name of an avant-garde filmmaking movement originating in France in the 1960s which aimed at realism or naturalism in directorial method: minimising the influence of those behind the camera over what happens in front of it.

Cinéma vérité was so-called because its philosophical project was to minimise the distance between the truth of an event or a happening and an audience’s reception of it. The French word, ‘verité’ translates simply as ‘truth’.

Straight away there’s a certain amount of sophistry at work in presenting something as truth which is so obviously constructed to give the appearance of truth but could never hope to be the actual truth unless you were there.

I think that possibly this gulf between presentation and reality is the area that is most interesting to me about everything in art, in commerce and even in life.

The significance of an act which is un-intuited (or ignored) by the actor(s) is what makes the news; statement vs. reception is what makes social media; the disconnect between self and self-awareness is the key to comedy; the chasm between a filmmaker’s intentions and an audience’s experience is the joy of film; the commitment to counterfact over fact is what incenses and fascinates about religion, about conspiracy theory, about (bad) science; something called ‘constructed reality’ is actually a popular television genre…
The contradiction between what is presented as truth and what is actually true is the arena that seems to give a lot of stuff meaning, and I fancy that it might be something to write about.