Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 5 February 2017



When I found him he was in a bad way:
he'd been on home truths all day
and he wasn't used to their razor edge.
He said he was dead inside anyway.

I offered him a platitude and he laughed.
And he laughed.

30 September 1989

The he is me. The rest is fiction. Lies come in different colours. Black and white mostly but sometimes red or grey. I wonder why truths aren’t similarly colour-coded. And if they were what would a black truth look like? We live in a world now where the truth is no longer what we imagined it to be. It’s been broken. And the problem with broken things is no matter how proficient your repairman is they have their limits. You can tear up the Constitution and with a bit of care and attention and a lot of Sellotape having it looking almost brand new.
In an article in Forbes Christine Comaford lists three types of truth: the whole truth, the partial truth and the preferred truth before going on to talk about five types of truth telling. Personally I like what Henry Gee has to say in his article in The Guardian:
[F]iction has its own truth—while you are reading a story, you'll believe for the duration that dragons, wizards, aliens and hobbits "exist"—because if you didn't then the story would be no fun at all. But what is truth? It is provisional, shifting, temporary and subjective, that's what it is, and the quest for its elucidation is forever incomplete and wholly narrative.
I think the danger nowadays is mixing up belief and truth. Just because you believe something to be true doesn’t make it true. I’m not talking about the difference between relativism and absolutism. The truths we learn to live with exist somewhere between these two poles. We never have all the facts and so we make do, maybe not with half-truths but certainly ninety-percent-truths.
F.’s big sister once told me a few home truths. Took me to pieces in her living room in fact. (This was back in the early seventies you have to understand and she thought she was doing me a favour deconstructing me like that.) Years later I could look back and realise she was simply offering up her opinion dressed up as truth. An important lesson was learned that day that’s all I can tell you.

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