Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ethical Bullshit

In case the subtitle of this blog didn't cue you in, I'm a Liar. But I'm a Good Liar, in that all of my lies are clearly labelled. I engage in Storytelling. I'm a proud purveyor of bullshit, and every day I'm getting better and better at making it delicious. To give the phenomenon a more interesting name, let's call it Ethical Bullshit.

Let's face it, there are only a few areas of life where Absolute Truth is necessary (or even advisable). In most ordinary situations, a lie is almost always better for everybody concerned. There are several general reasons for this, in order of importance to Writing:

A lie is more interesting than the truth. - Would you rather a comedian tell you the truth, or a story about the truth?

A lie is more clear than the truth. - You're drinking in a bar with your buddies. One of them talks for a long time about a sexual encounter with a girl, carefully revealing the dates and times, backtracking to give little dossiers of every character in the story. The other tells a great story about how he banged a girl. Stripped of all the distractions (i.e. unnecessary facts) the lie gets to the damn point and has a better impact.

A lie illustrates the truth better than the truth itself. - Listen to someone bullshit, and you'll learn more about his personality than if he were giving an honest deposition at a trial. Human interaction isn't about facts, it's about emotions.With the exception of STI's. Do the right thing, guys!

A lie gets the job done. - Bullshit is just another word for thinking out loud. Listen to somebody bullshit, and you'll discover what they want to do. If it's a good idea, it stops being bullshit as soon as it works. To answer the classic ethical question: "Would you lie to Nazis to protect Jews hiding in your attic?": "Yes, and repeatedly." Screw you, Kant.

A lie requires much more thought, and is thus much better quality than the truth. - Any idiot can tell the truth, as long as he has a good memory and the ability to string a few sentences together in response to competent questions. A liar has got to have Craft. Read the great political and moral speeches and documents. They are a tissue of outright lies and bullshit, every single one of them. But they're so much better than the Absolute Truth, which is this:

Take any abstract noun: Love, Hope, Freedom, Faith, Money, Loyalty, Happiness, Democracy, Morality, all of them. Look for it in the natural state of the universe. You won't find it. The strength of these abstracts is entirely dependent on the belief of human beings in the bullshit of other human beings. We tell a lie, then make it true.


Where'd you get that fez that sits on your mantle? Well, I'll tell you:

Things were looking pretty bad for us until I realized that shooting slightly outside the picture was less effective than shooting at all those guys with swords. Also Ms. Laid's frantic screams of terror attracted a mummy to help me defeat my foes. It's a well-known fact that mummies are enraged but intrigued by the color red.

And that's how I made the Sphinx eat his words.

250 words? Yes
Book "The True Autobiography of a Liar"
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Reading - ?



  1. "A lie requires much more thought, and is thus much better quality than the truth.": Questionable.

    "Screw you, Kant.": Bloody brilliant, sir! !^@#$% Kant!

  2. Yes, yes, everything's questionable, but the point is that if you put enough thought into your lie very few people will take the time to question it and everybody can get on with their lives. People are busy, and lies smooth things over for everybody.

    "Screw you, Kant" is the bonus subtitle of this post, for obvious reasons.


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