the lost man chronicles
book two: the art of love


the positive-lie

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There was once this woman who gave me a stack of cards with remarks on themóthe comments ranged from the droll and half-witty to the quite mundane. After a while it became apparent that the rather insane mix was a result of a "quiet party" where people get drunk, converse using index cards, and ultimately do not utter a wordóweird, but interesting.

What was not air-apparent to me was that the 3X5s were not all interchanges between this particular woman and the hoard of others who were waddling about in silence. Thus, as a result, I eagerly read each one of these cards as if they potentially divulged something about her.

She later explained to me that most of them had nothing to do with her.

It was then that I realized that the lie actually improved the experience for me. It was not that she had lied to me, for she hadn't, but I had construed an alternative reality based on presumptions, and this ignorance ended up instilling greater meaning to my uninformed inferences. Subsequently, I romantically anticipated that each new bit of information would be another insight into her. With the turning of each card I felt much like an adolescent who extracts visceral pleasure from fantasizing about a schoolgirl crush.

Based on this rather plush and real experience I would argue that the lies that do not hurt or interfere in the lives of others who interact with the deceived, might ultimately be rather healthy. Being "in love" is quite similarly deceptive and sentimentally akin. For the love is good as it lasts or at least until the infatuation begins to incur negatively upon the one who is enamored or at the expense of the comfort of the one pursued.

Its amusing how our teenage infatuations are primarily the exact same feelings we have as adults, except that they are given less weight because as we get older we load up all the prospects with unreasonable expectations and a lifetime of wishes to fulfill.

This is particularly true of long-term relationships and matrimony, because each trap comes along with a shipload-shitload of otherworldly expectations, most of which are lies which often end up being unhealthy to the relationship.

Very few people realize that relationships at this level of commitment require that we either essentially start life anew or continue lying till we can lie no more. For once we begin, we are constantly put to task, attempting to find the happy medium for everything all over again. At first, with rosy cheeks, glossy eyes and a flutter in our heart we are all more than happy to concede to the loved one. Alas, when the real test begins, when we make an interminable commitment and have to make significant decisions together, then all that altruistic nonsense and unconditional giving gets thrown out the window.

In a "serious" relationship it is rather unlikely that 20 or more years of growing, learning, tradition, ritual, understanding, and values are going to synchronize immediately with someone who has essentially been a stranger for most of our lives, and who was likely been completely absent during those critical formative years of childhood and adolescence.

Ultimately, there are two points to be made here. First, some lies can lead to positive experiences (i.e. ignorance is bliss). And secondly, long-term relationships are not as blissful as we are sold to believe that they should be. There are simply too many "lies" (i.e. disappointed expectations) involved in a tradition which often trades in a person wholesale for an idealized companion who will never likely come to fruition.

"Lucien Daudet felt that Proust possessed "an unenviable power of divination, he discovered all the pettiness, often hidden, of the human heart, and it horrified him: the most insignificant lies, the mental reservations, the secrecies, the fake disinterestedness, the kind word which has an ulterior motive, the truth which has been slightly deformed for convenience, in short, all the things which worry us in love, sadden us in friendship and make our dealings with others banal, were for Proust a subject of constant surprise, sadness or irony."
~ How Proust Can Change Your Life, Alain de Botton




the art of living the art of living the beginning the art of love the art of love


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