Posts Tagged ‘illusion’

““Let us thresh the matter out,” said Chaffery, crossing his legs; “let us thresh the matter out. Now”—he drew at his pipe—“I don’t think you fully appreciate the importance of Illusion in life, the Essential Nature of Lies and Deception of the body politic. You are inclined to discredit one particular form of Imposture, because it is not generally admitted—carries a certain discredit, and—witness the heel edges of my trouser legs, witness yonder viands—small rewards. … Now I am prepared to maintain,” said Chaffery, proceeding with his proposition, “that Honesty is essentially an anarchistic and disintegrating force in society, that communities are held together and the progress of civilisation made possible only by vigorous and sometimes even, violent Lying; that the Social Contract is nothing more or less than a vast conspiracy of human beings to lie to and humbug themselves and one another for the general Good. Lies are the mortar that bind the savage Individual man into the social masonry. There is the general thesis upon which I base my justification. My mediumship, I can assure you, is a particular instance of the general assertion …”

“But how are you going to prove it?”

“Prove It! It simply needs pointing out. Even now there are men—Bernard Shaw, Ibsen, and such like—who have seen bits of it in a new-gospel-grubbing sort of fashion. What Is man? Lust and greed tempered by fear and an irrational vanity … But about this matter of Lies—let us look at the fabric of society, let us compare the savage. You will discover the only essential difference between savage and civilised is this: The former hasn’t learnt to shirk the truth of things, and the latter has. Take the most obvious difference—the clothing of the civilised man, his invention of decency. What is clothing? The concealment of essential facts. What is decorum? Suppression! I don’t argue against decency and decorum, mind you, but there they are—essentials to civilisation and essentially ‘suppressio veri.’ And in the pockets of his clothes our citizen carries money. The pure savage has no money. To him a lump of metal is a lump of metal—possibly ornamental—no more. That’s right. To any lucid-minded man it’s the same or different only through the gross folly of his fellows. But to the common civilised man the universal exchangeability of this gold is a sacred and fundamental fact. Think of it! Why should it be? There isn’t a why! I live in perpetual amazement at the gullibility of my fellow-creatures. Of a morning sometimes, I can assure you, I lie in bed fancying that people may have found out this swindle in the night, expect to hear a tumult downstairs and see your mother-in-law come rushing into the room with a rejected shilling from the milkman. ‘What’s this?’ says he. ‘This Muck for milk?’ But it never happens. Never. If it did, if people suddenly cleared their minds of this cant of money, what would happen? The true nature of man would appear. … But why go on? You of all men should know that life is a struggle for existence, a fight for food. Money is just the lie that mitigates our fury … What a lie and sham all civility is, all good breeding, all culture and refinement, while one poor ragged wretch drags hungry on the earth!””

– H. G. Wells, Love and Mr Lewisham. London: Harper Brothers, 1900.  Quoted by Adam Roberts here.

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