Saturday, September 7, 2013

All Of Us Liars

"Always tell the truth, it's the easiest thing to remember." --"Ricky Roma", by way of David Mamet, from Glengarry Glen Ross

That we all lie all the time is unquestionable--to what degree are we aware of how much we lie is the question that interests me.

Take Ricky, for instance. What a great piece of wisdom--"Always tell the truth, it's the easiest thing to remember." Would that we could all put it into practice more and more--but no one is in more dire need, of course, than Ricky himself. I'll try to be as concise as possible, and don't even look at me through that face of yours and try to tell me you haven't seen this movie--(leave, go, go now and watch)--but how to explain Ricky? He very consciously lies to a client to try and ensure that client loses tens of thousands of dollars that he does not want to spend. But that only scratches the surface of his depravity. His real genius comes in the way he lies implicitly with his attention. He lavishes his charm on his client, immediately transcending a business transaction and giving the impression that he wants to connect, on a soul level, to his target. He sees his target's loneliness and exploits it with an effortless pretension of care and love. He winks to the onlookers as he reaches into Jim's soul, touches that thing that Jim longs for the most, touches on God, hell, cancer, sex, dying spouses in plane crashes to bring Jim to the scarcity of what lasts, and convinces Jim the only way to fight it all off and give his life any meaning at all is to buy a piece of undeveloped real estate.

Beethoven did not play the piano better than Ricky played Jim.

Always tell the truth, it's the easiest thing to remember.

I don't know how much different any of us are from Ricky. Of course by degree we vary greatly, but that is only by degree, not kind. We are liars. From the "how are you? fine"s to the high crimes and misdemeanor types--we only vary in degree, not kind. My head swims at our two-bit gambits to try and achieve control (which is always an illusion): our preference for our own kind/team/race/religion that inevitably causes us to do injustice to the "other" so we can take comfort with our own--I name this behavior, indicative to all, as a form of lying. Every time we tell ourselves we need that thing to be complete, it is a lie--we are never complete, never satisfied, never satiated. Never. Our spirit was wounded out of the box--it does not find its repair. Sure, there are some things we can cobble together, to shades of success even, but wholeness, all-encompassing satisfaction eludes to the end. It is the embrace of this fact, ironically, that grants the closest you can get to peace that reaches the deepest part of you. To believe that nothing will complete you is an invitation, not a guarantee, to deliverance.

Yesterday I tweeted that years ago I determined to live my life with much whimsy and verve. And it's true--it is rare for my first thought in response to anything anyone has said to me to not be a joke. For me, a life lead whimsy first, combined with a profound and stricken belief in our utter lostness and depravity, are not a contradiction. From the age of 17, but probably before that, I realized that it was only proper to never take life too seriously, but the most glaringly serious observation I can make is to ceaselessly marvel at how cracked we all are. It is a strange cocktail to be sure, and I certainly don't understand it, but I do enjoy it.

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