Friday, 4 December 2009

Truth, subterfuge, hamsters.

We were getting all philosophical the other day in my poetry class, discussing truth and whether a poem should be "true", and the difference between experiential truth and factual truth, and of course things get slippery from there, in any discussion about truth you start to wonder if such a thing even exists...

So someone made a point that it is very difficult for a poet to write about truth if truth is all subjective anyway. Then this oldish man came up with something that really made my day.

Basically he said "There should be no problem because our whole every day lives are based upon untruths, we have to live untruths in order to survive social interactions. When we see someone we barely know and say "how are you?" we do not actually want to know. We DON'T CARE. WE don't want to hear if they are having a shit time. We want to hear "Fineanyou?" We are just saying it because we are required to. It's all fake and lies."

This old man made me so happy. What he says is pretty obvious, but we don't exactly go around admitting it on a regular basis to eachother. We are all full of shit. I just loved his ability to cut through all the crap and say it. It is good to know I am not alone in these thoughts.

Everyone in the room started smiling and nodding after he said it. It feels so good to just acknowledge the complex games we are forced to play in life. It felt especially refreshing coming from an Englishman, because from my experience here tradition, decorum and social games rule.

I think it resonates with me so strongly because of my whole "pretending to be a scientist" thing. It does get tiring trying to play that role well every day. But if my life is full of pretense and subterfuge, then I should have no problems writing poems in which the truth is purely within the poem and nowhere in real life, right?

A poem is a truth in itself. Ooooooh I just made that up, sounds good doesn't it?

Ok ok, I will stop with the dodgy ponderations and say to everyone in the world who is seeing the Killers this weekend (I assume this applies only to South Africans unless they have access to some kind of beam me up Scotty facility), just remember:


Let its spirit move you to remember the correct words to all the songs.

  • I've got ham but I'm not a hamster

  • Are we human or are we hamster?

And it goes on.

(Just a note: Mr Brightside: "I'm coming out of my cage....." Need I say more?)


Ches said...

"He doesn't look a thing like...ham...ster!"'s going to ROCK!

LadyFi said...

Yes - we're full of shit, or should I say: social niceties - i.e. the oil that lubricates the gears of society.

However, there is room for truth in our personal lives, in our exchanges with people closest to us, in the way we feel and experience the world.

Ultimately, we should be true to ourselves - and if a poem reflects this, then it too is about truth...

Anonymous said...

I love your truth muchos interesantes. But I feel like [perhaps within the lie there is a truth] ... but that still agrees with you... in my head

Helen said...

I would comment ono the awesome socal commentary, but I was distracted by the hamsters!

I have already got my friends to agree to 'are we hamsters?' when we sing along tonight :)

Champagne Heathen said...

As long as it is MY truth that dominates, I am happy! My Guy does not like this approach so much, but it seems he has learnt to accept it.

tattytiara said...

I don't tell deliberate lies because I'm bad at it, but I don't mind being lied to if it's for my own good. Tell me I look nice and collect your kiss. It's a transaction more than an inquisition.

Dora said...

The thing is, if we don't do the social niceties, we're told to "just cheer up, it doesn't hurt to say one sentence to someone".

I went through a phase where I'm like, look, I don't give a shit about all these people, so I'm not even gonna pretend to speak to them. Then a phase where I'm like, look, Christmas is just one big commercial scam to get us to buy stuff, so I hate Christmas. etc etc. Then I'm told that I'm a bah-humbug and that small talk "won't kill you".

Now I'm not sure what I should do...:) (Although I have come to like Christmas now.)

Rox said...

Very very true - human beings are full of it indeed.

However, perhaps we also create truth by first pretending? Like your scientist feelings... even if you don't feel it, you ARE being one. So that is a truth really, even if it doesn't seem like one.

I would have so much more to say about this, but it's Sunday evening and my brain has stopped working. ;-)

EEbEE said...

I often make the mistake of telling people the truth and not just 'what they want to hear'.

My responses are usually met with shock and or silence. I've even gotten into trouble a few times. I find that people are seldom prepared to hear and face the truth...


Tamara said...

Very rare Englishman that one. The Brits practically invented social niceties.
That was after the got over the conquering the rest of the world phase, obviously. The two don't really gel.