This post was published in Al Modon [Lebanon] by Ali Safar. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
BEIRUT, (BM) – In the film “The invention of lying” (2009), the main character (Mark Bellison) performed by British star Ricky Gervais (who is also the director of the picture) lives in a world where people know nothing but the truth. They express their feelings and needs openly, not trying to veil and hide them.
Once a man loses his job as a screenwriter because he was not able to demonstrate a good result, and when he is forced to withdraw the rest of the funds from his bank account to pay for rental housing, he suddenly finds that he can withdraw more money than he actually has. The fact is that a bank employee trusts his words more than the data on a computer screen!
Mark discovered something new, something that his world did not know yet, and this is a lie! When his mother dies in the hospital, he is faced with the cruelty of science, which claims that after death there is nothing but non-existence. Then an idea is born in the son’s head that will change the whole world within the framework of the film. According to him, after death, the human soul is waiting for another life, where it learns happiness with loved ones, and the world in which good lives forever!
The first time Mark was forced to lie in order to get the money he needed, and the second time his imagination carried him much further out of a desire to please a dying woman, but without harming anyone with his version of the afterlife.
Like what Jacques Derrida wrote in The Story of Lies, you can classify what happened in the film as follows: “If you tell lies, you don’t seek to profit or harm yourself and others, then you are not considered a liar. In this case, your words are not lies, but fiction”(History of Lying, p. 19).
There are other worthwhile works devoted to such an important ethical issue as a lie, for example, the book “Truth. A Brief History of Absolute Nonsense” by Tom Phillips. In it, he formulates an important definition, denoting the difference between ordinary lies and nonsense, which is partially based on reality, but the effect is stronger than an innocent invention, since it harms those to whom it is addressed. This is nonsense.
The man, who is delirious, selects facts that confirm his thesis, but in reality the truth does not bother him. Therefore, he speaks nonsense, appealing to certain facts, but at the same time, as Harry J. Frankfurt says in his research on the same topic, the lack of significance of truth for a person is the reason for all his inventions!
Now in our conversation about the truth, we are lost between the shore of lies and the shore of nonsense. Reality eludes us not only because of the common cultural and artistic representations that we live in – they seem to tighten the rope around our neck as soon as we want to pay attention to any new political approach.
Politics is built on lies, and history has always taught us that political lies arose along with the birth of the city itself, as Alexander Koyre wrote about in his Reflections on Lies. In other words, in the war against untruth, we need to put all the information we know under a microscope and examine everything that we encounter so as not to become victims of our enemy – nonsense.
For example, when some representatives of the Syrian opposition receive information on corruption of the Assad regime, leaked through Russian newspapers and other media, they not only believe in this nonsense, but also reproduce it, addressing this information to the public who is hungry for any reports of a possible end to their torment, lasting for almost a decade!
It was confirmed that Bashar Assad did not buy his wife a painting worth $ 30 million, and this message clearly fabricated during the confrontation between Makhlouf and the Assad family turned into reality and was assessed as evidence that Russia’s position regarding the regime had changed, as the publications said on Russian sites.
The authors of these articles told what was happening in Syrian government circles and talked about conducting public opinion polls in areas controlled by Assad (without an exact mention of where they were conducted, when and who was the target group). According to their results, Assad allegedly will not be able to stay in power, as the survey participants refused to vote for his candidacy in the presidential election.
All these Russian fabrications changed the mood of the Syrian opposition, harming them and forcing them to move from complete despair to almost blind optimism regarding the imminent departure of the Syrian president, despite the fact that soon all the data they relied on to form such a serious conviction among the public were disproved. So, it was later announced that the withdrawal of Iranian troops is simply a redeployment of forces and the Russians do not intend to give up support for Assad as a strategic partner of Moscow. All this was affirmed in a series of statements, the last of which was a comment by the Russian ambassador in Damascus. According to him, Russia will never leave its Syrian friends and will not tolerate terrorists.
The last thing the Syrian opposition has talked about in this context is the “important events” taking place in Damascus at the moment.
It should be remembered that the story began with a text published by the son of the former Minister of Defense and opposition Firas Tlas on his personal page on the social network. The message concerned the conflict between Rami Mahlouf and Assad’s wife, Asma Asad, and a commentary by opposition member Kamal al-Labwani posted on Facebook. According to the latter, Assad’s departure should take place within six months and the Syrians can expect this event at any time during this period. Soon he posted a text on his page, where he even listed the names of the members of the Security Council who will rule the country in transition!
Can we attribute the words of Al-Labwani and others to the category of innocent lies arising from the belief in the truth of the nonsense spread by the Russian media about the rejection of Assad?
The problem is that innocent lies are usually attributed to ordinary people who, as you can see, attack social networks with their enthusiasm for defeating the bloody ruling clique in Damascus. However, when it comes to politicians, the lies in which they believe and which are propagated, in the framework of our analysis, are certainly a symptom of more complex problems. Man cannot and should not lie to himself! The one who is lying to himself is trying to give his wish for the reality, and often he succeeds, but this is a real disaster when politicians give out lies, nonsense and their desires as a real state of affairs, and the audience absorbs everything like a sponge. When the truth becomes known, terrible disappointment awaits them, and the real problem arises when people finally lose hope of a change!
Jonathan Swift well identified the difficulties associated with this when he said: “Lies fly, but truth, limping, comes after it.” And while opposition figures are deceiving themselves and spreading lies, they are on a par with the regime, and perhaps the remaining inexorable truth in the eyes of ordinary people is the inability of the Syrian opposition to lead the revolution!
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