Four Reflections on Lying

“All of the historical oddities and amazing true facts contained herein are lies, made up by me — and it is this astonishing innovation that allows each entry to contain more truths than if it were merely factual… Truth may be stranger than fiction, goes the old saw, but it is never as strange as lies, or for that matter, as true. Proof of which maxim is the fact that I just made it up.”

— John Hodgman, introduction to An Almanac of Complete World Knowledge Compiled with Instructive Annotation and Arranged in Useful Order by myself, John Hodgman, a Professional Writer, in The Areas of My Expertise, which Include: Matters Historical, Matters Literary, Matters Cryptozoological, Hobo Matters, Food, Drink & Cheese (a Kind of Food), Squirrels & Lobsters & Eels, Haircuts, Utopia, What Will Happen in the Future, and Most Other Subjects

Dr. Bashir: What I want to know is, out of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren’t?
Garak: My dear doctor… they’re all true.
Dr. Bashir: Even the lies?
Garak: Especially the lies.
— Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

And now, a freeform poem written by me at 2:30 in the morning:

there are only two truths,
what happens in the sight of the earth
and what lives inside the heart of man
within the infinite and
wondrous combinations of the two
live what we call lies

i have borne false witness
to truths as false as any lie
and lies truer than false
when you combine the truths,
the lies, and the fictions,
that is the universe

the lies of the past, of youth
of golden age and of brighter days
see what horrors such lies wreak here
there was truth in the past, but no more
now the true past is a lie
forget the truth. look forward

your eyes are in the front
what you see ahead, the future,
that is true
behind you, you see nothing
just memory, which could be a lie
so walk forward, not back, into the truth.


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