Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Virtue of Lying

I love Oscar Wilde's essay/ fictional dialouge The Decay of Lying. In it Wilde extols Lying as the art of poets who lie to reveal the truth as opposed to time-servering opportunists (most often politicians, lawyers and their ilk) who lie to conceal the truth. One of my favorite sections is when Wilde comments on the Art of Lying in America:

"The crude commmercialism of America, its materialising spirit, its indifference to the poetical side of things, and its lack of imagination and of high unattainable ideals, are entirely due to that country having adopted for its national hero a man who, according to his own confession, was incapable of telling a lie, and it is not too much to say that the story of George Washington and the cherry-tree has done more harm, and in a shorter space of time, than any moral tale in the whole of literature."

I think of Eca de Quiroz's hilarious character Raposo from The Relic who announces the need for "the shameless heroism to lie."

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