Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is truth?

"What is truth?" said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Thus wrote Francis Bacon somewhere between 1561 and 1626. We know this because those are the years of his lifespan.

What is truth?

A good question.

It's no good asking the CCRC that question - they don't know the answer. They simply ask the police and, as everyone knows, the police wouldn't acknowledge the truth if it was wrapped in red silk and shoved up their collectives. But never mind.

As John Locke said around about the same time:

It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of truth.
What Locke was saying, in his own way, is merely a reiteration of an old adage which we have all heard many times before:
You can take a horse to the water but you can't make it drink.
I like quotes, they sort of satisfy me in a strange but filling way. Pithy, that's the word. I like pithy. A quote, saying or adage can be found to cover just about each and every situation, I should imagine - and that got me to thinking, a pastime which I indulge myself in a good deal.

I got to thinking ahout all of the things I write myself, reams of the stuff, millions of words covering the whole gamut of emotions, I suppose - although I don't do pathos very well. I do defiance like an expert, but that comes from being a grumpy old man mostly. Everybody gets to that stage sooner or later, unless of course you are seeking saintbood.

When I snuff it, as I surely will, will anyone quote me? Surely, in amongst all of the stuff I have churned out since I discovered the power and satisfaction of the written word, I have written at least one sentence that is worth remembering! Can I expect that, at some time in the uncharted future, there will be a tutor somewhere looking sternly at some unheeding student and saying, "Have you actually read Wilkinson?"

"Yes sir!" lies the student.

"Well, what did he say about truth?"

"Er, um, er, um."

Everybody can trot out a few quotes, although they may not realise that fact. We all know the old sayings our grandmothers gently beat into our flesh as children. We can all quote. We all have favourites too. They don't necessarily have a lot of relevance but that's hardly the point - the point is, we like them. Some of my favourites...


The mad are all in God's keeping.
Well, that's me on safe ground then.


It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak, and another to hear.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Oh yes, the latter is a gem indeed. We lurch from crisis to crisis all of our lives, desperate for a bit of peace.


Truth sits upon the lips of dying men.
It's a fact! When we get older we tell the truth because we no longer give a shit.

That's the thing about the game of life - it's the only game in town that we know we are never going to get out of alive. Life is going to kill the lot of us in the end - we lose the game.

Finally, a word about Boudica, who is now hiding behind net curtains and driving the Troll insane with her pigeons and sniggering a good deal as she does it. Apparently, the Troll is only a little woman, so I've suggested that when she (Boudica) speaks to her, she simply says, "Stand up when you talk to me."

One last word on truth - it's never safe to be entirely truthful, and there is one instance when we must never tell the truth.

"Does my bum look big in this?"

"Your bum would look big in the Gobi Desert."

Wrong answer! Prepare to spend the rest of your life dodging things like plates and low-flying shoes.

Anton Chekhov had it right when he said:

Any idiot can face a crisis. It is day-to-day living that wears you out.
The Voice In The Wilderness

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