Thursday, September 16, 2010

I H8 Liars

by Ashley Lister

Liars. Don’t you just hate them? Whether you call them liars, bullshit artists, fibbers or romancers, it all boils down to the same thing. It’s describing a person who doesn’t tell the truth. And if there’s one thing that sticks a lit firecracker up my arse, it’s people who don’t tell the truth.

Admittedly, as a professional fiction writer, I’m predisposed to lying. I tell stories about imaginary people enjoying fictional adventures that have only ever happened in my imagination. It’s all lies. But lies in fiction are acceptable. Fiction couldn’t exist without lies – otherwise it would just be dull and boring facts. Lies in fiction are acceptable. Lies in reality make me furious.

I’m not talking about the usual lies: your cheque’s in the post; I won’t come in your mouth; of course I love you. Those are necessary fabrications intended to facilitate the smooth workings of reality and are acceptable deviations from fact.

I’m talking about the pointless lies.

Like the guy I used to work with who claimed to own a fleet of glamorous cars. Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, limousines etc. Flash cars? He’d driven every type and owned all the best ones.

It wasn’t true. He drove a metro. And it was his only car. But still he maintained a fiction of owning all these glamorous vehicles. The most irritating part was that he expected acquaintances to buy into this lie. If you wanted information on any sports car, you had to consult with him as the source of all prestige vehicular knowledge.

Why? It was a pointless lie. He might as well have claimed to have invented the colour cyan.

Like the friend of my son’s who claimed to have a life-threatening illness. He even spent some time in a wheelchair. He told me his central nervous system had disappeared. Now, I’m not a doctor, but even I could smell the bullshit on that line. Occasionally this guy would leave his wheelchair in the pub whilst he got up on the dance floor to boogie the night away. His central nervous system seemed to return around the third pint.

Why? I have no idea. How do you challenge someone on a lie of that magnitude? You can’t. Try telling someone in a wheelchair that they’re lying, and that they should just get up and walk. You look like a stroppy version of Jesus. And not in the good way.

There are others. Too many. Lies about success, affluence, recognition and acclaim. Lies which, when you hear them and foolishly believe them, they make you wonder why you’re not achieving the same level of success, affluence, recognition or acclaim. When you realise you’ve been sucked in by a lie, they make you feel self-contempt for your own level of gullibility.

I believe that people lie like this because they’re disappointed with the reality they inhabit. Creating a fiction is their way of coping with an unsatisfactory real world.

Now, I’m all in favour of linguistic determinism, even though it’s a theory that’s been repeatedly disproved. (Disproving a theory means nothing. I’ve spoken with creationists who can disprove evolution. And evolutionists who can disprove creationism. Those have not been the most interesting conversations of my life).

Linguistic determinism, for those who didn’t have the pleasure of studying this subject, is the belief that language limits and shapes human thought, and therefore affects the structure of our reality.

I believe in that.

However, I think the liars I’ve been talking to are oversimplifying this theory. If I call myself “the immensely wealthy sex God Ashley Lister” it does not put extra girth on my wallet, or anywhere else where extra girth could be perceived as an improvement.

I’ve tried creating variations of my own on the lies that these people have thrown at me. I own my own fleet of state-of-the-art trains. I’d give you a lift in one of them but I’m waiting for new tracks to be laid. My circulatory system has disappeared. That’s why I’m sitting here motionless. If I move all the blood in my body will dribble into the soles of my boots.

The lies just make me look stupid and they don’t seem to offer any advantage over reality. No matter how many times I claim otherwise, I don’t own a fleet of trains and my circulatory system is exactly where it’s supposed to be.

I’ve probably missed the point of this week’s topic. Because of that I’ll apologise to my fellow grippers now. But with a subject like ‘fiction and reality’ I know that I prefer the two to remain diametric opposites. I love reality. And I love fiction. But I don’t think the two should be mixed without a damned good reason. Especially not by bullshit artists.


  1. Heheh, hilarious, Ashley. Or should I from now on refer to you as Incredibly Rich Sex God Ashley?

    I'm so gullible, I usually fall for every bullshit trick in the book.

  2. Hi Nikki,

    Aside from myself, you're the first person to ever call me that :-) I suspect you will probably be the last :-(

    I usually fall for all the BS too. I don't think it's because I'm gullible. I end up arguing with my wife saying, "Why on earth would they make that up? It must be true!"

    Luckily, she has a wonderful grip on reality. Which is why she doesn't call me the aforementioned name ;-)


  3. Hi Ash!

    I think its true that people make up lies, as you say, because reality falls short of saisfaction. This may also be why people like to read wild stories including erotica. Some days reality just sucks.

    Now in my case, reality does not suck. The fact is I have already attended several of your poetry readings in my astral form as I said I would, but I thought you might find the knowledge intimidating. Its because I trust you I'm sharing it with you here. My occult powers are legendary and I was the original inspiration for "Dr. Strange". Anyway, I just think you've reached a point in your personal evolution where you can handle the full awesomeness of me now. You should feel proud.

    By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggath, I feel like a pizza.


  4. Hi Doc/Garce,

    The next event will be a fancy dress reading, so if you can astrally project in costume you won't look out of place to those who can see you :-)



  5. I think the human brain is a wonderful thing. Reality certainly does suck for many people, which may cause them to invent an 'alternative' reality, but I suspect that doesn't explain the various delusional belief systems and the extent of lying that seem common in politics.

    The narratives we tell ourselves and others are to some extent constitutive of reality, so I’d be prepared to argue that there’s no clear dividing line between fiction and reality. As you say, claiming you’re a wealthy sex god or own a fleet of trains doesn’t make those things happen. But the guy who claimed he'd had vast experience of high-performance cars, and the one whose CNS had ‘disappeared’ were, at any rate, involved in biographical fictions a good deal less dangerous to others than some of the claims made by politicians, religious leaders and big corporations…

    That’s the end of the rant, anyway. To respond to the some of the other stuff – I didn’t invent cyan but do lay claim to the invention of dwim, a colour only visible during episodes of astral projection. Apart from that, I admit to suffering from the delusion that I’m a minorly successful writer of erotica whose next novel will be widely acclaimed…

  6. Hey Ashley,

    I've never claimed to be a sex goddess but some people are still suffering under that delusion. Guess it's pointless to try to set them straight!

    Speaking of delusions, I wonder if the guy with the on-again-off-again CNS believed his tales. I do think that if you tell a lie often enough, it starts to influence reality (as I began the week by claiming).

    Great post!


  7. Fulani,

    Don't get me started on politicians and religious leaders...

    I've got nothing against people inventing their own biographical fictions. I just don't like to be forced into having to give them lip service. Again, it could all go back to the politicians and religious leaders argument, couldn't it?

    However, I've had my walls painted in the colour dwim, so I believe I owe you royalties :-)



  8. Lisabet,

    I do believe, if you tell a lie often enough it is perceived as reality. I'm just uncomfortable when people force me to change reality to their perception.

    The guy with the missing CNS did seem to believe in the inoperable severity of his condition. And his condition did deterioriate as a form of self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Sad to think that someone has lied themselves ill, isn't it?




Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.