The whole truth, or is a little bit of lying still ok?
Who wants to be lied to all the time? But then again: who actually wants to be confronted with the truth all the time? Even if deep down we know what’s true, being willing to actually hear it is another thing all together. A good lie can be pretty entertaining. Provided that no one is hurt by it. Film and literature provide no end of examples.
The tall tales of Baron Munchhausen’s exploits are only so well-known because he wasn’t afraid to play fast and loose with the truth. And the same goes for Pippi Longstocking. Known for her outlandish stories, she paints a picture of the world as she imagines it. Felix Krull wraps men and women around his little finger by pretending to be a Marquis, pulling back the curtain on the real goings-on in high society and laying bare their preoccupation with appearances. In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo di Caprio played the modern version of a hugely successful confidence trickster.
Well-crafted lies trigger the imagination, amuse, entertain and impress us. And sometimes they save us from the unpleasant truth. “Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economise it!” Mark Twain once said. The art of lying, in his view, was something to be cultivated. In the days of fake news this mindset is hardly popular. But the question remains: aren’t we overdoing it a little with our relentless pursuit of the truth?