A Living Lie
To betray yourself is a disservice to humanity...
“Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself – in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity – is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them.”
“Whereas the man who is guided by concepts and abstractions only succeeds thereby in warding off misfortune, is unable to compel the abstractions themselves to yield him happiness, and strives merely to be as free as possible of pain, the man of intuition, standing in the midst of a culture, reaps directly from his intuitions not just protection from harm but also a constant stream of brightness, a lightening of the spirit, redemption, and constant stream of brightness, a lightening of the spirit, redemption, and release. Of course when he suffers, he suffers more severely; indeed he suffers more frequently because he does not know how to learn from experience and keeps on falling into the very same trap time after time. When he is suffering he is just as unreasonable as he is when he is happy, he shouts out loudly and knows no solace. How differently the same misfortune is endured by the stoic who has learned from experience and who governs himself by means of concepts! This man, who otherwise seeks only honesty, truth, freedom from illusions, and protection from the onslaughts of things which might distract him, now performs, in the midst of misfortune, a masterpiece of pretence, just as the other did in the midst of happiness: he does not wear a twitching, mobile, human face, but rather a mask, as it were, with its features in dignified equilibrium; he does not shut, nor does he even change his tone of voice. If a veritable storm-cloud empties itself on his head, he wraps himself in his cloak and slowly walks away from under it.”
When you’ve become so habituated to lying, you realize how much of an affliction it bears, one which brings with it a great deal of anxiety and distrust. Because you’re conscious of your own deceptions and inclinations, you are too calculating to even believe the truth some man or other says, which doesn’t need to be calculated. Deception becomes a disease, an illness which one doesn’t recover from, one which stops the truth from being received even when it is plain and obvious. You think you can manipulate the external world to your benefit without paying a price for it, that you can keep covering up shams and get away with it indefinitely. Soon, you realize that you pay a price which you can’t possibly refuse or avoid, the cost being delusion by way of deceiving ourselves. And what good could come of it except the things we merited by trickery? When you know you’re guilty of deceit, you’re immediately projecting it on to those who, perhaps, aren’t so deceitful as they are genuine, but because you suspect what kind of game they are playing against you – because you know you’ve played that game yourself – you accuse them of cheating.
People are hypocrites, because they are hasty to condemn in others the baseness which is part-and-parcel of their own custom. They may sometimes be right, but that’s beside the point. The point is that they dislike themselves, they’re disgusted, ashamed, dismissive, and resentful. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be so hurried in their judgment, so rash and indiscreet with their words, so unconscious of their flaws, so unreasonable in their justifications. What they are condemning is not the other person, but themselves, who they are at odds with, fundamentally speaking. How can you not be at odds with yourself when you’ve been fabricating your life with falsehood? You can never see what lies beneath the superficial facade if you keep smothering it; to save face, to remain secreted, to stave off heroic living – which is at the basis of an honorable life. If you have a moral sense, living deceitfully becomes unexplainably menacing, and in the end, intrinsically painful. Not only do you lose your own sense of trust, but you’re incessantly, unendingly, conflating your own criticism and flaw with the insufficiency of others, which is likely unlike your own. Remember, then, that if you’re going to go on making a bloody fiction of yourself, you’re not merely playing others; the trick, the jest, is that you’re playing yourself, for trying to stitch up a face which is too rare to discount.
You can’t possibly live in a state of self-denial without becoming a miserable wretch. Don’t make the assumption that you could violate your own conscience without reaping the detriments down the line. Your own deceptions start to torment you as time drifts away, what you’re left with is self-reproach and shame, which could only further your misery, or worse, deepen it. But why live miserable, why sabotage yourself? You can’t possibly eclipse your resentment and bitterness by merely living with great discomfiture – you must come to a deduction and a conclusion. Unfortunately, however, the only conclusion there is is thorough acceptance of oneself, and forgiveness of one’s sins.
I have witnessed in my own life degrees of narcissism and denial that is hardly conceivable, and at times, sheerly intolerable. Such people are so hard-headed, ignorant and short-sighted that being in denial doesn’t suffice as an exposition that unearths the depth of their difficulty – they are not merely in denial, they are unknowing even of their denial, which could not possibly be overturned unless made conscious. Worse, they can’t possibly be persuaded otherwise, because they are wholly certain of their needs and wants, and in their own generous esteem, there is nothing that could possibly be wrong with them, except the fact you are trying to come to their aid. I have tried, innumerable times – more than I could remember – to have civil discussions with such people, and the outcome was always predictable and the same – they defend their views with greater force and permanence – simultaneously overlooking basic nuance and common logic – while emotionally dismissing any point, no matter how rational, that collides with theirs.
Not to mention, an undermining of their beliefs is an attack on their identity, which only indicates the feebleness of their character and the weakness and dullness of their views. If you are immediately aggrieved when a person’s views are incompatible to yours, and you get in a fit of passionate rage over your own lack of security and knowledge, you have neither civility nor reason, and in truth, you have no chivalrous outlooks worthy of being shared. But when you talk to a narcissistic, stubborn, dismissive person, this is precisely what happens, even if at the face of it, it’s not immediately obvious. It’s guilt-tripping, blame-shifting, responsibility-evading, and victim-claiming.
Try and catch them in a lie or a grave error, and see how it turns out – not only are they going to reject your accusation, but they will turn tables on you, to make you feel like you’re the problem for pointing it out. If that doesn’t stop there, they will go on unending tangents about matters unrelated about how prejudiced and wrongful you’ve been in the past with your allegations, and proceed to start talking about how you’ve disrespected them, wounded their ego, hurt their feelings. They will do everything in their power to not only shift the blame, sometimes even unconsciously, but they will try and persuade you into believing – by wielding guilt to make you feel bad – that you’re responsible for the cause of the difficulty. To say they are merely Machiavellian and deceptive is an understatement, they are mentally unhinged and disturbed. Such behavior is so second nature to them that they’re seldom aware of their own deceptions.
This is not only a matter of mistreatment, it’s a matter of sadism and inhumanity which taints and corrupts the soul of the victim, who is likely oblivious of the slyness and callousness of the perpetrator. To make someone feel guilty for a crime he didn’t commit is a crime, and to make him believe he’s the problem, and then have him apologize for it is an even more barbaric crime. An offense which, in my view, violates one’s conscience and darkens his soul. You probably know at least one person who’s encountered these people, or you may have yourself. If you understand where I’m coming from, you know very well how injurious these schemes can be, and I believe some people never bounce back from it.
These are the same people who fill a man or a woman - though I believe calculation comes easier to women – with false hope and affection, and then coldly evacuate, as if whatever they’ve previously said was never vacuous, and whatever they’ve done disingenuous. And there is no easier way to wreak havoc and destroy a man than to mislead him by love, and everything beautiful and good about it, then swiftly check out. As if you were fiddling with a dog to get him excited, and then deserted him without notice. Imagine getting a dog – a domesticated animal or slave – excited for your own gratification, and then stranding him. The gratification was never about seeing the dog grow excited, it was about utility, but because using him demands that you get him excited, you must inevitably lie, betray your word, and bribe him by flattery, dishonesty, illusion and sweet favors. Many men fall for it, few men see through it, even fewer men see through it and pull back. Don’t be so sure that spotting it is sufficient, man’s chief weakness is woman’s sweetness, and his admittance of her dishonesty and trickery seldom culminates in his claiming back his independence.
Owning yourself is a great luxury, but you must be absolutely free of temptation to preserve that privilege, for to be intoxicated by love and simultaneously be outwitted by the devil is the most dangerous amalgam conceivable. When you’re in love with a woman, you will rationalize even her flaws, you will embroider and color even her smaller qualities. And a man doesn’t even need to respect a woman to love her! Think about how good-hearted and blind a man must be to observe a woman in her undisputed colors – no matter how alarming and red – and still decide to love her, regardless of whether he approves of her colors or not. Men are forgiving, indeed. Women, however, are absolutely unforgiving in this regard, and where matters of love are concerned, are as cold and pragmatic as a passionless psychopath.
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