Vol. 4, Issue 7, December 5, 2006
Get Away From It All
The Bentinel

The Truth of the Matter, I Think

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

It has been said that the very Definition of humanity is its use of Language, that marvelous and Protean tool whose subtleties and Poetry exceed by a Quintessential margin the most astonishing communicative efforts of our Primate cousins, or even of the redoubtable Dolphins; and it has Further been said, elsewhere, that the very definition of Language is that it is a means of Communication which can be used to Prevaricate. It is thus not an Inordinately inappropriate leap to state that the defining characteristic of Man is his ability to Lie, a fact which will surely surprise No-one who has ever picked up a News-paper or attempted to secure repayment of a Debt from a relative.

But this misanthropic and grim Pronouncement of our moral fiber must surely be tempered with poetic Nuance, for not all lies are the Same. Surely there are those designed primarily to separate the gullible from their Wallets, but there are also those intended serve as soothing balm to the frayed nerves of our Family and Friends. Still others are deliberate Artistries, confabulation in the service of Entertainment, speculation, and outright revisionist History. Who among us would wish to strike the works of blind Homer from the bookshelf simply because his tales do not represent an eyewitness Account? (So to speak.)

But there is still another category of Untruth which may be filed under "wishful Thinking." In this case, the deceived party is the very one which Creates the fiction, in part out of a desire to thus cause Reality to conform to the word, in part out of the glib glossing over of inconvenient and contrary facts to hand. And here we find perhaps mankind's Greatest and most Audacious departures from the truth as we understand it to be. How can we condemn those who willingly follow the banners of their own fictions? One might, perhaps, remove them from the Driver's seat if they are pursuing a roadmap of their own Devising, but surely this manner of self-delusion has a different moral price than the deliberately mendacious falsehoods of those less scrupulous members of our Species.

The challenge lies in telling the Difference between the two. The question for me, of course, lies at hand in the deceptively cheerful Label upon this bottle of Beer which I was offered at the "Hawk and Baby," a local Pub where I am wont to quaff the occasional Drink in a less rarified Surrounding than that of the Club I normally frequent. For the label very boldly says "Tastes Great - Less Filling." The former assertion, surely, was categorically proven to be False by the first Swallow: I am not a Beer man per se, but even I can distinguish a fine Ale from carbonated Bison by-products. As for "Less filling:" compared to what? What precisely is supposed to be filled, and how is the measure made? The only measure I could think of was the Bottle, which was unfortunately filled to the Brim; falsity again.

The question is whether the misguided Brewers, for so we must call them absent a suitable alternative term, were Deliberately stating a falsehood - nay, a matched Pair! - or whether they genuinely and truly Believe that they dispense a brewer's Nectar, amber solace to working men and Women the nation over; whether they themselves drink Deeply of the substance that pours forth from their vats, and tell themselves it is a Fine thing, rather than a suitable substance to scrub the Tires of their automobiles.

It is a dilemma, and one that I shall not solve this evening. I think, perhaps, that the truest definition of Man lies not in his talent for perpetrating Untruths both conscious and unconscious, but in his Recognition that the world is awash in them, and in his lifelong struggle to sort them out. For the moment, I am satisfied Indeed that I have sorted out the best way to interpret this beer-bottle label: in the hands of Other drinkers, while I enjoy a nice Glenfiddich. Truth is a matter of perspective, after all.

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