Lying and its forms!

Just read a very interesting article on lying in the NYT. Using one event in the Bible, the author goes on to show us, the readers, how a single statement,a veritable lie, can, in fact, be interpreted in so many ways. Each of these interpretations do concur that the statement is a lie but the degree and severity of the consequences of the lie vary with each interpretation – from the extent of absolving the liar of any crime to implicating him in the heinous crime of fratricide.

Another fascinating insight is derived by the author through a conversation he has with Ricky Jay about lying. Ricky maintains that, in a world where no one lied, there would be no conmen – thus implying that the very basic currency on which all conmen operate and feed i.e. trust would no longer exist. In that sense, therefore, Ricky argues against a world wihtout lies. A very thought-provoking and, on the face of it, rather true statement. Of course, such a situation presupposes that conmen would still exist which, I maintain, would be just as impossible in a world without lies.

The appendix to the article also makes for very fascinating reading: From Shakespeare’s “As you like it”, a description of a lie seven times removed:        ” Touchstone: Upon a lie seven times removed: — bear your body more seeming, Audrey: — as thus, sir. I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier’s beard: he sent me word, if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was: this is called ‘the retort courteous.’ If I sent him word again, it was not well cut, he would send me word, he cut it to please himself: this is called the ‘quip modest.’ If again, it was not well cut, he disabled my judgment: this is called the ‘reply churlish.’ If again, it was not well cut, he would answer, I spake not true: this is called the ‘reproof valiant:’ if again, it was not well cut, he would say, I lie: this is called the ‘countercheck quarrelsome’: and so to the ‘lie circumstantial,’ and the ‘lie direct.’ “

And, from St.Augustine, eight types of lies: ” The first type of lie is a deadly one which should be avoided and shunned from afar, namely, that which is uttered in the teaching of religion, and to the telling of which no one should be led under any condition. The second is that which injures somebody unjustly: such a lie as helps no one and harms someone. The third is that which is beneficial to one person while it harms another, although the harm does not produce physical defilement. The fourth is the lie which is told solely for the pleasure of lying and deceiving, that is, the real lie. The fifth type is that which is told from a desire to please others in smooth discourse. When these have been avoided and rejected, a sixth kind of lie follows which harms no one and benefits some person, as, for instance, when a person, knowing that another’s money is to be taken away unjustly, answers the questioner untruthfully and says that he does not know where the money is. The seventh type is that which is harmful to no one and beneficial to some person, with the exception of the case where a judge is questioning, as happens when a person lies because he is unwilling to betray a man sought for capital punishment, that is, not only a just and innocent person but even a criminal, because it belongs to Christian discipline never to despair of the conversion of anybody and never to block the opportunity for repentance…. The eighth type of lie which is harmful to no one and beneficial to the extent that it protects someone from physical defilement, at least, from that defilement which we have mentioned above.” (Augustine, “On Lying,” Treatises on Various Subjects)

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D & D version of LoTR:D&D LoTR spoof. Rotfl, LOL fun. And food for thought, too, about how lame LoTR can sound/read if looked at in a particular light. 🙂 Now I get why so many people don’t really dig fantasy. 🙂  Of course, on the same note, in the ongoing Literals series from Vertigo, Kevin’s Fantasy muse provides just as much reason for fantasy being a rather niche and rarely well-done product. 🙂

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International Space Station!

An awesome picture of the ISS, silhouetted against the Sun. Even its solar panels are clearly visible. Taking such pics is what amateur photographers like me live for. Someday, I will take such a pic. Check it out here.

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Hindu nationalism: A step forward or multiple regressive steps to the past?

Since the 1989 election, Hindu nationalism has made huge inroads into Indian society: to the extent that it has radically changed, for the worse, the perception of India as a heterogeneous mix of people co-existing in peace.Such parochial, marginalising nationalism is a far cry from the founding principles that guided the formation of India as a secular, democratic nation that assured all its citizens equal rights and representaion.
The founding principles of India, set forth in the 1940s by Gandhi and his liberal, socialist outlook, are very similar to those envisioned for the Jewish state as it came into violent existence in the forties. In this regard, Pankaj Mishra has written a wonderful article in the National newspaper, of the UAE, comparing the simlar paths – from initial socialist, liberal initiatives to present-day narrow definitions of nationality – taken by both the nations as they reached their present state of unicultural domination and idolization of demagogues like Modi and Lieberman in their respective national consciousness and popularity. He goes on to examine, in some detail, Gandhi’s reactions to the formation of the Jewish state and the violent means to achieve it; his interactions with Jewish philosophers like Martin Buber; Gandhi’s aversion to a centralised nation-state as opposed to a self-sufficient network of small, rural communities and the myopia of Indian leaders in the first few decades after independence as they sowed the seeds of separatism, through autorcratic, violent imposition of the State’s will.
This was quite a revealing read and, more and more, as I grow to understand Gandhi the man and his philosophies – especially his desire to establish a state based on a higher morality of justice and compassion, I have come to admire and respect this wonderful human being.
In recent conversations with friends from Gujarat, I have found a cult-like belief in Modi and a fervent belief in the patently false “facts” that were being spread by him about Muslims and minorities.Its such a pity that Gandhi’s own home state is now paying homage to the hate speeches of demagogues like Modi and more so because it seems to be the so-called educated middle-class supporting such hate movements.
Hopefully, light will shine through and good sense will prevail. I hold out very little hope for this in the near future, though, and can only hope that, unlike Israel, such demagoguery and marginalising politics do not spread to the entire nation.

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