I’m turning into a sort of connoisseur of lies: the lofty legalistic generalizations of Israeli politicians that skate over the ugly facts of what they are doing, the blatant lies of the terrorists that actually are a kind of boasting, the slick imitations of pious responsible journalism by the toadying Russian press, the amateurish version in the Ukrainian press (where little islands of truth poke up naively amongst the garbage), the self-serving lies of the Gaza street, which cooperates in putting its children in the line of fire to make propaganda, the deliberate promulgation of conspiracy theories by the middle eastern intelligentsia, the systematic murderous lying of Hamas where lying is a consistent policy even when it does not serve their interest (the general damage done to reason and logic is worth a bit of friendly fire), the uttermost lie to oneself that has been committed by the suicide bomber, the cowardly lies of nations like the US who are too afraid to be of any help, the sanctimonious lies of the religious Jews in the Settlements who are exempt from military duty, the convenient masquerade of measured responsible policy in European nations that are addicted to Russian and Arab oil, the two-faced bland lies of the Arab nations that would be happy to see Israel do their dirty work for them, the malignant lies of the Jew-haters and the Arab-haters, the half-truths and prevarications of the diplomats, the shocked hypocrisy of the highbrow press, the “moral equivalence” lie by apologists for the terrorists and separatists… The only people who are not lying, it sometimes seems, are the most evil of all–the jihadis of ISIS, which is sincerely committed to bringing about hell on earth and doesn’t care who knows it.

Really a merry cavalcade. But they are shitting on something that I love and honor, which is language, the sacred material of poetry.

By Frederick Turner

Professor, poet, lecturer, black belt, and more.

5 replies on “Lies”

I find it hard to refer to them, as ISIS. Considering what Isis, herself, represents.
I refer to them, as something far less complimentary.

Since consciousness and self-awareness became powerful enough to tell stories such lies have existed. They are documented from Gilgamesh to Homer to scripture to modern journalism and literature. And many of those lies have been fictions of a certain utility. The physicist Sir Arthur Eddington has a hilarious explanation of how a physicist must lie to himself in order to pass calmly over the threshold of a doorway, assuring himself that the atomic particles and molecules are in fact solid and unmoving and won’t suddenly all move in the same direction. The economist and venture capitalist Bill Janeway says that entrepreneurs must lie or they would avoid the huge risks they take. (The dangerous ones, he says, are those who know they are lying.) And Nassim Taleb describes a world in which most experts conduct science, create public policy, and guide investors with false narratives of risk, reward and consequences. Would it be fair to say that what makes lying more dangerous today is that we have far more powerful means of propagating lies, that our lies have more disastrous consequences as they do their work through powerful technology, and we are very much more conscious of our lies. The latter may hold a worm of promise.

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