Titanic Truths in Little Lies

The lie used to be something romantically desirable. Elvis Presley's 1960 recording of the 1926 song “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” contains one of the first ever spoken rap sequences (they called it “recital” then): “Honey, you lied when you said you loved me/And I had no cause to doubt you/But I'd rather go on hearing your lies/Than go on living without you.”

In their 1996 song “Lovefool”, the Cardigans take a slightly more upbeat approach on the same subject: “Love me, love me – pretend that you love me, fool me, fool me, go on and fool me […] I don't care if you really care, as long as you don't go.”

And while every bollywood hero and heroine craves for  the sound of “sweet little nothingnesses” whispered into their ears,  Fleetwood Mac prefer: “Tell me lies, Tell me sweet Little Lies!” (1987):

Nowadays though, nobody has time for lies anymore, just as nobody has the time for lengthy recitals. No more time-consuming wishful thinking about the feelings of someone who is not interested for over 3 minutes – instead, if anything, perhaps a text message “R u l1some 2nite?”

The Black Eyed Peas get right to the point: “Don't lie” (2005). Reasoning: “What you gonna do when it all comes out/When I really see you and what you're all about?” (as if it ever would be possible to “really see” someone and to determine “what that person is all about”). It is not surprising that the lyrics repeatedly point out that the singer doesn't even know why he/she lied in the first place, even though the lying process itself is described full of relish. Thus, it also is not surprising that one of the most interesting parts of the song is when Fergie yodels in an authentic Swiss style in minutes 1.52 – 2.00: “And I lie and I lie and I lie and I lie”:

Had the doctrine of the Black Eyed Peas been followed, the lives of Elvis/Cardigans/Fleetwood Mac would have run efficiently – but without the moments of happiness that they had been able to experience thanks to the sweetness of the lies of their counterparts. Despite their now unfortunate situation, I bet that not one of the pop musicians mentioned regrets those moments.

Most importantly though, the lie possesses an idealistic power that the realism of truth does not: The lie opens the door to unknown potential possibilities. Very often, humans are given an extraordinary amount of leeway when having to evaluate a situation. The question of the colleague on whether or not his new fashion accessory looks good or not may only have one truthful answer given the time and circumstances: No. However, if enough people lie by saying “yes” for the sake of maintaining a benevolent work atmosphere, then perhaps enough people will catch on and create an exciting new fashion trend…one that is especially exciting because it involves the transformation of aesthetic values over time.

Because ultimately, the lie denies reality as it is and instead explores reality, as it could be – which on its own may or may not be better or worse for the people involved. The truth always is tied down to what is already there – it is the lie that is necessary to induce the changes that can be made possible by imagination. In the best of all cases, the benevolent lie of yesterday turns into the welfare-enhancing truth of today.

Nevertheless, the friends of the lie are few – one of the most loyal ones being the character Barney Stinson in the TV show of questionable quality “How I met your mother”. In Season 5, Episode 19 (2010), he states the following gem of wisdom: “A lie is just a great story that someone ruined with the truth.”

Have an imaginative week,


PS: However, don't forget Micheal Jackson's warning lamento on some of the more unpleasant sides of when  “the lie becomes the truth” – Billie Jean (1982):