Wednesday, September 17, 2008
There we are, dining, sitting, drinking, laughter ringing. And yet things are a bit sticky. She has accused me, not to put too fine a point on it, of lying to her.
I said there were lies everywhere. Take the oxtail soup on the menu for instance. I asked her, why, if the tail of an ox was so good had I never knowingly eaten any other part of an ox? The answer of course is that most oxtail soup is actually cowtail soup but that sounds like someting you'd feed to a slightly ill canine, so oxtail soup it is, and that's a lie. Such a good lie that butchers throughout the land fool people with it. And then they laugh the secret laugh of the butcher. I don't know it.
Where would we be without lies? There'd be no television news or songs by Justin Timberlake or pretty much any other pop artist. There'd be no advertisements or any of the other things that make life worth living. I went to Canberra years ago, before it became the cosmopolitan centre of all that is good and hip, back in the good old days where good tastes merry fist slammed down on anything that looked vaguely out of place or interesting. It was all grey concrete and bad beer and women that smelt like crime. But there wasn't an ad to be seen, not a single poster to tell you that if you didn't use this particular deoderant you'd most likely be attacked by wolverines, or if you went to Prague you'd be a better person. There was nothing. What they needed was a sprinkling of lies.
'My simple point,' I said to her, 'is that lying is dangerous and human and creative and necessary for the maintenance of society. Animals can't do it and we can. And there's little joy to be got from truth,' I said. 'I mean truth's one of two things: it's nasty, it's boring or it's false.'
Kindly she didn't point out that was three things, but then she said, 'false truth'? 'What?'
'False truth,' I said, 'is like how-to-become-rich books, or opinion polls or I love you.'
'You do?' she said.
'I do,' I said.