Archive for the ‘Morality’ Tag

Afterthought

The very cruellest among us are no heroes, but the most frightened. But that’s not all, cowardice is the root of all greed.

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Truth & Lies

Political Essay

Subtitle: Forever Blowing Goebbels

Deluded liars as they are, liars of despair, we all scoff in derision as infamous leaders stop and look out over the utter devastation they’ve inflicted on their subjects and on themselves, calling this useless defeat a glorious day, a moment of blessed victory. We are rightfully scornful when, after finally having been put on trial, these same leaders manage to brand themselves victim or martyr, not the hundreds of thousands of poor, poor bastards they murdered in cold blood. In disbelief we take note of ‘Democratic People’s’ republics that are or were as ‘Democratic’ as a Gulag, and ‘of the People’ like the moon belongs to Freddie, down the block. On every day basis we listen incredulously as one breathtakingly useless product after another is publicly misrepresented for quick gain. The list goes on and on, in politics, in commerce, in religion, in sports, in the arts, in battle as in love: the chronic fib.

But lying enslaves and is a matter that goes beyond minor, social untruths. Subterfuge can be seriously life-threatening, lying becoming so endemic in some societies that they have distorted their original national character. Areas where life had or has so little to offer that the aggressive/defensive lie became the only means of workable daily congress, or is it because of the pervasive lie that they’ve become unliveable? With streets in which what’s bad is called good, where what’s ugly is called beautiful and nothing’s true any more: where children lie to their elders because elders lie to their children, and men to women, or women to men, even women to women and so on, fed by a controlled press also prevaricating in the service of some sordid ideal: the stealing of mind, the theft of reality, all of it and also a sure way of creating a living hell. Places where one must lie to get fed, in constant and despairing skirmish with smoked mirrors, fantasy and denial. Lying to survive only because everyone and everything around is doing the same, only pretending to be proud, happy to be alive, exhibiting gratefulness to the country by showing hatefulness, resentment and suspicion towards the outside, never inspiration by what is achieved elsewhere: everything a delusion. The neighbourhood furthermore where one’s forcibly grateful to a God always siding with those who already have so much more. All of it colloquially known as ‘kidding oneself’, but a phenomenon rather more ominous as during the last century it has become quite clear that the degree of a people’s suffering is directly proportionate to its ability to tolerate a lie.

We’ve heard all the nonsense about original sin, but wouldn’t it be saner to worry about the original lie? How it all started? Turning the world to evil, causing so much suffering? For it’s the original lie that’s truly sinful and repeating one, innocently or not, over and over again, most imprudent and self-defeating. Though some might say, but I don’t know anymore what the truth is. Yet it’s all so very simple: the largest truth in the world is that lies exist, blind and dominate. And that whereas an absolute truth is transcendent, open and vast like space, lies are specific, narrow, calculated and strictly human in all its forms. Official lies, wishful lies, stupid lies, smart lies, ugly lies, it makes no difference: falling for them is proof of one’s own denial which in itself is a form of defeat, a lack of courage. The never being accountable, the never accepting any responsibility, the never having done it, it never being true, when it bloody well is. Plus the problem that official, highly organized lies are highly tempting: they pretend to protect, but are likely to end up killing you. That’s why they’re lies, you see. Unless you’re blind, to the fact, in which case you should apply for a smelling-lie dog…

Those instances of ultimate and out and out physical and moral betrayal, when laws are distorted, ideals poisoned and justice only condemns, never, ever acquits. When it has been proven over and over again that only equilibrium equates meaningful life for all, the sole place where justice resides. The way it is during the time between hunger and satiation, thirst and the quenching of it when man can truly live, in this beautifully balanced space, however briefly, spending his most shining hours. Yes, of course, truth’s fugacious, hard to catch sometimes, but only because it’s free; it’s the lie that holds out the false promise of immediacy and permanence. And certainly there exists natural injustice in the way that health, looks, and brains are distributed or that tsunamis strike indiscriminately, but surely gratuitous human injustice is the most perverted one of all, particularly as expressed through the insidious lie. A lie being nothing more than an impostor: a scorpion posing as a loving chameleon, changing colour according to what’s up, but sooner than later striking out with long, swift, and deadly tongue.

Only the truth delivers safety and legitimacy, simply because truth is, while lies are not. To illustrate how lies lead to misunderstanding and then quickly to hate and oppression by way of distortion and irrationality, misusing terms brandished about in modern philosophy, it’s the lie, however promising, however tempting, not someone’s attitude towards or interpretation of existence that could be deemed ‘nihilistic’ or ‘absurd’. If anything and to begin with because on their own terms there can be no real absurdity or nihilism, the negation of the truth of the here and the now, unless one crawls into a black hole staying there forever to prove the point. Since the minute one asks for a glass of water, one no longer is a nihilist: can’t be a nihilist and take the eight o’clock bus, can’t have had breakfast with 2 fried eggs, afterwards be on one’s way some place. For anyone to suggest furthermore that only existence without faith is meaningless is an untruth: the fact that with or without faith and without exception we beg for water and food creates existential meaning by itself and in the fullest sense. On an other level, deliberately erring by misusing already dubious terms such as ‘nihilistic’ or ‘absurd’, equating these with another tenet, atheism, is creating a lie. For it proposes more than just that, it proposes that atheism is evil, thus hateful, while in fact… in itself creating hate. Therefore don’t listen to those who maintain this stance and always remember that only factual truth, not a stated truth liberates and that whereas bodily man is not a lie, his hopeless fantasies, not to mention his strange definitions, correlations and ambitions, all too often are. On the main these represent non-lieu, are very often quite absurd, self-serving and mostly harmful.

And speaking of factual good and evil, of truth and lies or what may be dangerous use of words, a case in question is the Czech Republic where I visited recently. Sixty three per cent of the people there are said to be ‘atheist’ by choice and conviction, though one won’t find a more gifted and balanced populace that, other than having produced some nasty incidents of discrimination against Gypsies, is not a mass producer of expressed hate caused by a lack of ‘contract’, conventional faith. Next door in Poland, on the other hand, religiosity is about one hundred and ten per cent, also with mainly excellent people and beside a brand of irrational, rather rural and disembodied anti-semitism, not especially perfect or imperfect in relation to the folks across Slavic street. Plus, all there have that glass of water and probably fried eggs in the morning, so what difference do all those earlier differentiations and accusations in real terms make, except to note again that these hide the truth, may get out of hand, instigate real hate and by their very intent should be our concern?

Atheism then shouldn’t be made to be something that isn’t an automatic truth by a long stretch, in general the notion of Nihilism best forgotten, this very idea less than accurate and all because of those eggs! Life without God is not absurd to all and the notion that an atheist cannot be good is as gross an exaggeration as the news of Mark Twain’s death was upon a time. Because the atheist can be as forgiving and generous as the believer and if you don’t believe that you must go to Prague where good men like Kafka, Hasek and Havel demonstrated it, opening huge windows, huge doors to light, borrowing a leaf or two from Gogol in expressing their despair at the lack of goodness, the lack of truth, the tyranny of the ongoing, the living Ubu-esque lie of their world, while not exactly pining for God but, in the latter’s case, for the intellectual and musical company of an ordinary man named Zappa. A place before liberation described by Arthur Miller as a huge funeral. A place where he said he felt terrible because nobody could speak, everybody lying constantly because the language of truth had been taken away from them and all the walls were listening. A place where a few courageous souls nevertheless managed to assure him that lying was their only freedom… But surely Mr Miller would now agree that under those circumstances this no longer represents a real lie, that it is mere coded truth. The use of the language of the lie as a trompe-l’oeil, conveying between honest people what was at stake, masking what needed to be done so urgently to reverse their plight. The non-atheist Catholic Church on the other hand handily condoning the mass killing of the feared leftist atheist, as recently as during the Spanish civil war. Talk about evil, talk about lies, talk about mixed values, talk about turf…

Finally, by yet another yardstick there cannot be a degree to truth as it’s absolute, but there are degrees to lies. Truth’s on the side of personal decency, sometimes referred to as character. The fact Rosa Parks wasn’t asked by a single white person to come sit next to them on that or any other bus, nobody reaching out, gently taking the unsightly mantle of humiliation off her frail shoulders, forcing her to quietly but firmly wave it at their turned face, is sad and wrong. There’s no excuse; truth’s inclusive or no truth at all. It’s the lie that’s exclusive all the time. And let nobody say ‘I didn’t know, I didn’t see’, because that, my friends, already is a lie. Plus that small courageous steps count for more than equally repressive burning of cars or throwing of Molotov’s evil child. For the truth is largest when it’s small and individual, residing everywhere, and should people ask for you to point it out, tell them it lies right there in the vast space that lies can’t occupy. Some lies worse than others, especially mechanical ones, ones of wanton moral laziness, of ennui or criminal indifference, the sort that has reduced some to become inhuman, that is, though breathing and wheezing, unconscionably robot-èsque. Like Eichmann in the way that Hannah Arendt justly described him, hence her reference to the matter-of-factness of his crime. But here it seems we’re running out of language, for as Eichmann was still a man, it suddenly signifies how under certain influences, bewitched by tragic lies, it appears to be all too human… for someone to become inhuman. Verbal penury at its most tragic perhaps, but no less a truth, the advent of the holocaust yet again exposing the connection between the cold lie (of superiority in this case) and all the evil it can produce, plus the fact that a culture prohibiting real truth, ultimately dooms itself to insignificance.

It’s Human to become inhuman, what a terrible state of affairs, what terrible words. Just like the term the ethics of the lie would be, for lack of a better term describing the condition whereby any idea or notion naturally murders the previous one (making us both master and slave of ourselves, as Camus points out), a description itself too contradictory to be acceptable. But let’s keep it simple, let’s not stray and get lost in semantics, only grant that some evil is too big for mere words and that at the same time words are the favourite tool of evil. Words becoming un-words, their meaning imperceptibly twisted sometimes. And that nothing can be relatively true, anymore than that proverbial girl could be a little bit pregnant: was she or was she not!? That only the lie has shadings, one always leading up and into the next, ever intensifying, making slaves out of masters, bad masters out of slaves and so on and all over again, and that modern history has shown conclusively how pernicious for absolutely all of us it is not to strangle all these shadings at birth. Deriding them, walking out on those who’ll use them to triumph. What a gas! The best gas of all! Imagine people strutting out on Hitler at Nuremberg, laughing him off that ridiculous Riefenstahl bühne, so later and not by accident the first world war-crime tribunal would not have to be convened here! That phoney stage taken after some Hollywood production number, or was it Hollywood copying her? Who cares! A Triumf of Wasser, Cypress Gardens in Aryan World, Adolf in an Esther Williams routine, on water skis, troops floating by, arm up in stiff salute, one large frozen smile, flashed ivories midst stretches and jets of magnificent blue. Palms, flags, banners, bright lights, the awful geometrics of it, the deliberate symmetry of it, the dreadful uniformity of it, the fulminating artificiality of it, the false illumination of it, moving lines, everything linear right down to the moustache, nothing round, no loose ends, all of it moving like a flat, straight clockwork, even paced, suggesting progress, beauty, safety, order, but in reality an illusion going absolutely nowhere. In other words Leni blowing Goebbels: staged, idiotic fantasy, including angular bulges in dated swimming suits, probably rectangular chopped Idaho potatoes, good thing they sat up front, and oh what stunning bathing caps, cut just like helmets: exact-same look-through, cut-through and to be run-out-of-town mechanics if indeed the holding-out is that violent taking per forza is sweeter than giving. Achtung, Esther, life may be short but it is ever so deep! All means of seduction identical and only this: means. Though in this case one show infinitely more lethal than the other, with its mad, crazed wolf casting spell over the dreadfully mesmerized. A deep, smell of defeat still unreleased, still trapped below the short-lived scent of revenge, brainless fury and glory! Ah, what a monumental sense of humour the madding crowd would have expressed by howling him off. Too bad it wasn’t quite like that, that those in attendance didn’t see him that way, didn’t take him for what he was: a bad, bad, actor in a horrible movie, suddenly looking like a mutant Oliver Hardy had he worn a bowler hat. Readying the cruel dunce not for celebration but for getting cut, like all that wasted celluloid he and Leni deployed and occupied: all of it a lie.

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