The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

What would it be like if everyone was completely honest? If we all told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, all the time? Some years ago, I told a boy that the only thing I would ask of him was that he be completely honest with me. All the time. If he screwed around on me, I wanted to hear it from him. He countered by saying that there was no such thing as the absolute truth. That we all make our own truth and shape it to be what we want it to be.  I should have gotten out then. Chalk one up to stupidity, but even in that stupidity I learned a lot.

They say that once you’ve lived in Alaska for two years, you’re not fit to live anywhere else. I lived there for seven. And when I went ‘outside’ again, I found it hard to leave my brand of truth behind. You see, up there, you called it as you saw it. Does this make me look fat? Hell yeah! Do you think he’s having an affair on me? Why else would he be coming out of so and so’s apartment at 2 in the afternoon? You know, you think you’re so much better than everyone else! Me? No. I know I am. There was no limit to this straightforwardness – rows were plentiful but quietened down as soon as they rose up. Nothing was left to fester.

Coming back to the real world, it was hard to make the adjustment. What was that famous Jack Nicholson lineYou can’t handle the truth. No one really wants to hear the truth. If we stop to think about it, most of the time we ask people questions with the expectation that they will tell us exactly what we want to hear – not what we need to hear. A few months ago, I toyed with the idea of applying for a creative writing MA in the UK. I asked a good friend to help me with my application. She pointed out that the writing samples I had chosen weren’t what the university would want. In fact, my writing style wasn’t that creative – it was more documentary. I was gutted. Then.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I realise that she was so right. I don’t have a novel in me – I don’t have that sort of style – I can observe, account, tell a story, but I was confusing creative writing with using English creatively – two completely different birds. Having someone who will tell you the truth – who will be honest with you – who will be direct to the point that it feel as if they’re cutting away a sliver of your soul – that’s a richness money can’t buy. And it’s those true friends to whom we turn when we need to hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I was reminded of this recently, when the inimitable RN posted a link to Swedish designer Viktor Hertz and his project called HONEST LOGOs. Hertz re-appropriates well known logos and redoes them to show what he thinks is the actual content and truth behind the company. Worth checking out…

5 Responses

  1. Having spent my working lifetime involved with practical rather than academic issues I have long since realised that ‘truth’ is rarely black and white – for me it runs through many shades of grey……admittedly my life could be much easier if I dealt with all matters as black and white issues but I rather suspect that the number of projects that I would have been able to successfully complete would have been somewhat diminished – I don’t tell lies………. just approach situations ‘mindfully’.
    I freely admit that, apart from reading and enjoying books, I know little about the art of writing but I do know about ideas, dreams and ambitions. I know that in the early stages they are very fragile, and like a new born baby can easily be damaged, squashed and killed. However if they are
    nutured and given chance to develop, one small step at a time, they ha
    ve the chance to become something very, very special.
    Whether you have a novel in you or not I don’t know………………… however I question whether anybody else (except for you) really knows either. I do know that it is an ambition that you have held for a long time, that you certainly can write and I have read enough books to realise that there are many different, successful writing styles out there and that you have as much chance of developing your own new successful style as any other writer. I also know that someone who can stand up in front of an audience and set forth with no apparent preparation could hardly be described as lacking creativity!
    I would repeat a few of the thoughts of a very smart, old lady (RB) –
    . When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
    . When in doubt, just take the next small step.
    .No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
    . The best is yet to come.

    1. Thanks P – agree with you re black and white vs grey. A very wise man in India told me that we are all responsible for our communication – and the result it engenders – hence approaching situations mindfully. Re the creativity – you might have missed the point or perhaps I didn’t put it across very well – ‘creative writing’ is a style of its own – one that involves stories and plots and structure and fiction – my mate was right – I don’t have that. I’d have been a good continuity person – I notice things – but as for creating a whole story that isn’t real???? Don’t think so. My reality is creative enough.

      Mary Murphy

  2. What is truth? Everyone twist it around. Everyone use it like a cheap whore.
    To lie or not to lie that is the question for many…
    I think there is only one truth regarding something. I don’t buy that crap which sais that everybody is right. If I would go political: I don’t buy the neoliberal stuff which in the end only means worst for the many and best for the lucky feathered few.

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