10 Jan

This was your heart
This swarm of flies
This was once your mouth
This bowl of lies… Leonard Cohen, “Nevermind”

For weeks now, months even, I’ve been thinking about lies.

My childhood was steeped in the lies of the adults closest to me, and I think this has left me with a visceral horror, even terror, of being lied to and/or about.

The worst lies are the ones intended to eradicate  your history, to rewrite events as you’ve known them, the lies that deny your experience and leave you shaken, uncertain of the trustworthiness of your own perceptions. These lies can be personal, and they can be political. They can be lies of omission and commission, they can be half-truths, or they can contain just enough of the truth to be almost incontestable. Perhaps these last lies are the worst of all.

I don’t know if lies, lying, and being lied to and about is as important in our culture as it once was, or if it has always been as unremarkable as it seems to be now. Was there ever really a time when a person’s word was all that was required, and if that word was broken the offender was ostracised? Or did such an idealised moral code of an individual’s responsibility to speak the truth exist only in romantic novels?

And when someone lies about you or about events you have shared, the sense of helplessness and rage at the injustice of such lying can mess with your head for quite a long time. Personally and politically, individually and collectively, lies are at the root of all injustice.

I would rather know the worst truth than be told a lie. Fighting my way out of a childhood that consisted almost entirely of lies has left me with a hunger for truth that is quite likely excessive. It’s made me forensic. But I do believe lies have the power to destroy the liar and the lied to, whether the lies are personal or political. Lies erode trust, and without trust we are nothing to one another, we live as empty shells, bereft of intimacy, lonely and alone.

I always thought the Rolling Stones song was about the loneliness and lovelessness of lies:

And you can send me dead flowers every morning
Send me dead flowers by the mail
Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave



dead flowers

28 Responses to “Lies”

  1. mix1127 January 10, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

    I read somewhere that truthfulness is regarded as a virtue among children, but that children are much more accomplished at lying.

    Being forensic is an art. Revealing the lie is difficult, and requires persistence (which you clearly have in spades, or rather, fucking shovels 😊).

    I can’t help thinking of Nick Cave’s song ‘Where the wild roses lie’. Do you know it? A bit dark, but worth a listen.


    • mix1127 January 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

      Sorry that song should have read ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’!


      • Jennifer Wilson January 11, 2015 at 7:05 am #

        Well that was a fib that could have stuffed up my musical life lol xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • helvityni January 11, 2015 at 10:48 am #

        Love that Nick Cave song, it’s made for his voice…


        • Anonymous January 11, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

          Agree! It’s special. Nick Cave in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (my favourite film) is just brilliant.


  2. selkie January 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

    I have lied … and then years later seen the effect on my child. She heard me speak that lie, she understood it was a lie and her whole world of truth and sense was turned upside down. Nothing much made sense to her, until she was able to create a framework of her own.
    I know the damage now, but at the time those words came out of me like a Mum who plugs a dummy (pacifier) into a babe’s mouth and, to quote a certain Bush, I misunderestimated her as a human being.

    Also, I really like the central protagonist in the book ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time’ when it comes to his take on lies. It dismantles him. His world view falls apart.

    And fuck, isn’t it boring and time wasting sorting through loved ones’ lies? There are not enough hours left in our lives.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 11, 2015 at 7:06 am #

      It’s necessary to treat someone as less human than oneself to tell them lies, I think. They aren’t worh the truth or capable of handling it, liars say.


  3. paul walter January 11, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    What a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive.

    As the rest of you have said, it’s hard work, hard to remember when it involves complexity and detail and when it’s detected usually everything gained from previously successful lying episodes is lost and penalties of an emotional and sometimes material occur when the subjects of whatever’s been perpetrated find out and take vengeance at leisure.

    I shouldnt talk of some
    thing I’m not an expert on though, being one of the few of you who does not tell lies.
    I am merely economic and strategic in my employ of facts, in the cause of not adding unnecessary upset (including for self, although this ony peripheral to the noble intention) where it also might engender upset in other’s who may not have understood my initial good intentions or Greater Plan.

    Isn’t it easier for all concerned if I tell the boss I’m having a sickie saying I’m I’m sick rather than saying I’m having a sickie for a sleep in whilst fobbing off the excuse to the receptionist that morning?

    The boss is rich enough, I’m not truly appreciated as to my worth and all other people lie to me, my wounded sensibilities require a sickie for recovery…

    How many times do even the best planned plans fall apart, typically the following day someone will blurt out that they saw you cross the road to the pub- medicinal purposes, you choke out, flustered- or worse still get caught by the boss at the races after you moaned black and blue earlier about how in bed you were suffering from the worst flu since 1919.

    Yet soon enough, after ego has reflated, the old artitic challenge of executing a smooth lie returns, it is a challenge, like jumping the fence is for the dog in the back yard and when you get away it, with the glee is exceptional, even as the process itself then infects the bearer with a euphoric complacency and smugness that ensures a careless error or mishap later.

    Perhaps the worst error is to beleive your own denial motivated bullshit and that
    you have fooled them, in my (hypothetical case, since I dont personally lie), people would seem to know when Ive porkied almost before that happens, just when contentment is acheived prior to the inevitable rude shock when you realise the truth.

    Also, it is rewarding to detect lies in others and incorporate this secret info into your assessment of them for the future, but in this case you must not make the mistake of complacent
    gloating, another form of distraction leading to a misery inducing brambly bush.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 11, 2015 at 7:02 am #

      Ah, the old “I have to lie because I don’t want to cause hurt” meme.

      I love your comments PW, I often want to turn them into guest posts.


  4. Stewart Hase January 11, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    It is a sad psychological reality (pun intended) that our experience is a web of lies and self-deceit, intended and mostly unintended. Humans lie to themselves and others in myriad ways and for myriad reasons. It is a design fault and despite our apparent cleverness our nervous systems are really quite poorly evolved (there’s probably a blog in that).

    But let me be Schopenhauer for a moment and agree that a conscious, reasoned lie intended to hurt is indeed immoral (maybe Kant) or, for me, weak.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mix1127 January 11, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Ah, Kant. Didn’t he argue that all lies are intentional acts, and that an act could include a gesture (a nod, a wink)? Lies are complicated indeed.


      • Jennifer Wilson January 11, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

        I believe you are right, he did indeed.


      • Stewart Hase January 12, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

        Yep, Kant argued that because all lies are intentional the person is acting immorally.


        • Jennifer Wilson January 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

          I don’t agree that all lies are intentional, some are unconscious or rationalised BUT: it is incumbent on us to know ourselves and so become aware of our unconscious actions, yes?


          • Anonymous January 12, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

            Yes, agree, but getting to know oneself can be a challenging process. It can take an entire lifetime. 🌳

            Liked by 1 person

          • Anonymous January 12, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

            Can we truly know ourselves?


  5. helvityni January 11, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    When you are brought in a Finnish Lutheran family, you don’t lie. I’m still a poor liar, and I feel guilty afterwards, I have learnt to tell white lies, civility demands it.

    People used tell me that I spoke of things what others only dared to think. I’m improving tho, I don’t lie but I don’t tell the truth to everybody…have forgotten who said that one first…

    Liked by 1 person

    • helvityni January 11, 2015 at 10:58 am #

      brought up


    • doug quixote January 11, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

      “Forbear to mention” is about as close as I like to get to lying. But sometimes a lie is the only responsible action. An example: A man brandishing a gun bursts into your house, and demands to know where your husband is.

      Do you say “He’s in the shed” (which is where he is)?

      Or would you say “He isn’t home” or even “He went out to get his bikie mates with their AK47s!”



      • paul walter January 11, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

        Brilliant comment DQ, sums up the conversation to this point.

        Jenny, thanks for kind remarks.

        Stewart Hase, thanks for such a timely comment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson January 11, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

        DQ, that depends entirely on whether or not I want to get rid of him


        • Stewart Hase January 12, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

          In which case one lie would be moral and the other immoral-its all a question of one’s desire.

          How about you blurt out that he’s in the shed, telling the truth, then gasp, surprised at your mistake. That is, you unconsciously wanted to be rid of him but was never prepared to admit that to yourself-until that moment and your nakedness is revealed to you.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson January 12, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

      Religion again. Guilt, shame, all the rest of the horrors…


  6. paul walter January 12, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Now we are getting gothic…

    Liked by 1 person

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