Lying

I found the readings for this week to be very captivating and at times, very surprising. I was stunned to find such sharp opposing views on lying – however, in terms of writing a memoir, I tend to agree more with Hampl’s approach on the personal essay and her concept on memory, imagination and ultimately “lying”. Additionally, I concur with Larissa’s post, in which I would like to mimic this philosophy in my own personal essay.

Nonetheless, I found myself agreeing with some material written by both Bacon and Montaigne to a certain extent. However, I believe their perceptions on lying are far too outdated and simpleminded. Both authors tended to only decipher lies as pure deceit, rather than considering a range of lies that may not always have deceitful intentions.

Montaigne seems to acknowledge the fact that lies have many ranges by claiming, “the reverse of truth has a hundred thousand shapes and a limitless field”. Yet, he continues to conclude that any stretch of lying is an “accursed vice”. This is where I strongly disagree with Montaigne’s work. I believe that not all variations from the truth should be considered a sinful deed, nor should they be treated as such.

While reading Bacons work I could not help but imagine how Hampl would disagree with his ideals, specifically when he equated lying “like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it”. Contrarily Hampl would argue that “lying” when recalling a memory would not destroy the value, but rather, enhance the story.

I found Hampl’s work amusing to read. She started off with a seemingly truthful memoir, turned to words that criticized her own work and blatantly admitted to lying continuously, yet somehow managed to bring it all together in explaining how her lies tell a deeper story. I specifically enjoyed her ideals on memories “not [as] a gallery of framed pictures” but rather as an “implacable judgment of feeling”.

While reading Hampl’s beginning memoir I did not question the authenticity of it, I just took what was written as truth (perhaps because I felt no reason to lie over such a simple tale). However, while reading Nester’s “Notes on Frey” I laughed at the realization of this absurdity in accepting memoirs as whole heartedly true. With such detailed dialogue, Nester mocked, “Writers [have] photographic memories for every word ever said”. Yet, as explained by Parandis these fabrications are not always intentional, nor do they alter honest value. The readings for this week of self discovery, memory and emotions make me excited to begin drafting my own personal memoir.

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2 Responses to Lying

  1. Julie Lavalliere says:

    I also liked the quote from Montaigne about all the different ways the truth can be twisted. So many lies can arise from one true statement. I also agree with you and how some lies are worse than others. Montaigne argues that lying in general is sinful but I believe white lies aren’t that bad. One might lie to spare someone’s feelings or to avoid talking about a certain subject. Hampl’s work was amusing to me as well! I couldn’t believe she was admitting about how much she lied.

  2. cjchumas says:

    I liked this blog in that you did a nice job of relating and connecting the different readings and providing your own take on each of them. I especially liked your last paragraph. After this week’s topic of lying, I also came to the same realization that nearly all of the substance in a memoir can’t possibly be accurate, or at the very least, truthful. I also realized that truth-stretching is almost essential to any personal essayist, especially one writing a memoir.

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