Sunday, May 2, 2010

Musing #6: Truth, Honesty, and Stories

Truth: facts

Honesty: straightforwardness, adhering to facts; see also honor, integrity

Story: Ha. Anything told. An anecdote, a fiction piece, a lie.

Oh, and of course.

Lie: something that is untrue that the speaker knows is untrue, but is reporting as truth.

WARNING: Opinions contained from here on.

Occasionally, I go through and try to figure out oxymorons. Most of the ones people bring up are fairly obvious, e.g. jumbo shrimp are large in comparison to shrimp, military intelligence is military wisdom/knowledge, information gained pertaining to the military.

For today: an honest liar, a truthful liar, a lying honest person and and lying truthful person.

The simplest is a lying truthful person. Stating facts, but only the facts one wants to. Nothing factually inaccurate is being presented, but the image created in the listener's mind is false.

A lying honest person is also fairly easy, though a bit harder to wrap one's mind around. If honesty is related simply to telling the facts, then it would be the above. But it is not--at least, not how I'm using it.

One can mislead by telling only the facts. But there are also times when this very exclusion can serve for greater honesty. If a person has genuinely reformed, then bringing up his or her past serves to do nothing but mislead. So that might get swept under the rug.

Or it might be someone asking if person X said, "Jane Doe needs to lose a few pounds." If the technical answer is yes, but it was said in a joking tone and meant to be taken as a joke among friends, then the honest answer is no. If X doesn't know Jane, or Jane is particularly sensitive about her weight, it gets trickier. But if it is given and taken as a joke, then saying yes is dishonest, even if it is factually accurate.

And, of course, it could also be taken that the honest or truthful person is being deceitful just this once.

A truthful liar is someone who regularly tells the truth and regularly lies. This would almost certainly imply the above example, using facts to mislead. But where the above implies doing so once, this implies doing it as a matter of course.

An alternative is much simpler, and therefore less fun to work out. It is simply someone who regularly lies and regularly tells the truth. This is probably the most dangerous type of liar, as people tend to ignore him/her--and 'Boy Who Cried Wolf' aside, it is rarely just the person misleading who suffers for this. Imagine, if you will, that the flocks are kept close together. The shepherds have to keep taking their sheep away, and finally when the wolf shows up, they don't. They lose their sheep, get injured, etc., etc.

An honest liar. This has the same deal as a truthful liar; it can be someone who tells factually inaccurate things for the sake of the true picture regularly, or someone who is honest and dishonest as a matter of course.

But because of how honest can be used, it has another way to take it. It would be someone who lies, but will not mislead on particularly big stuff. So, for instance, would say, "They went that way!" to get someone off a (friend) thief's trail, but wouldn't do anything that would end up killing someone. Or killing someone 'important', though what that means varies. More commonly referred to as a trickster, scalawag, or playful/mischievous [noun].

And, of course, it could just be a poetic way to refer to a storyteller. One who says things that aren't true, but in such a way that s/he doesn't expect anyone to believe them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart