30 July 2007

The Truth c. Time Immemorial-AD2007

The Truth, that nebulous concept that has exercised the minds of everyone from the greatest philosophers to the lowliest politicians(1), has passed away – crushed under an endless succession of fake phone-ins, cheating teachers, sexed-up dossiers, re-edited documentaries, alternative therapeutic nonsense, political spin, ridiculous advertising claims, dodgy journalism and wholly unreliable obituaries.

The Truth was a controversial concept from the moment it first cleared its throat and proclaimed itself a necessity of human interaction, an asseveration which was challenged in around 100,000BC by Ug the Estate Agent - who felt it could do real harm to his offers of centrally-heated caves with a wonderful view of the dormant (‘no, really’) volcano - and has been under continual challenge by his descendants ever since.

It was not long before the formerly-simple Truth came to be regarded as a complex and heavily-nuanced thing. Even as Aristotle stood up to announce that ‘To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true’ other philosophers were gathering round him to "spin" his simple statement into something so complex it would require several hundred more years of reasonably-well-paid philosophising to explain.

Despite such difficulties, The Truth soon became extremely popular. Among its early fans were many religious groups, all of which claimed to have direct access to The Truth, which turned out to be available in manifold, mutually-incompatible forms. Indeed, so keen on The Truth were its religious devotees that many of them proved willing to die for The Truth or - even better - cause other people to die for The Truth, preferably by being roasted over a stake for witchcraft, stoned to death for adultery or blown into thousands of pieces thanks to a disturbed teenager's desire to become a martyr and cop off with 72 virgins.

Scientists, meanwhile, were also industrious in their pursuit of The Truth – happily disabusing us of the notion that the Sun revolved around the Earth or that apples floated upwards, and questioning religion’s view that the Big Bang was just God hitting himself on the thumb with a hammer and that the Earth and its creatures were created in both of the two mutually incompatible ways set out in the Bible at the same time. During the 20th Century the popularity of The Truth was to become even greater with some scientists after they discovered that if you came up with the right sort of Truth you could become extremely sought after... and very well paid. Soon several scientists were happily proclaiming all sorts of Truth, such as the non-existence of global warming to the existence of "Intelligent Design", via the remarkable rejuvenating powers of extremely expensive cold-cream to the validity of homoeopathy.

Followers of the Arts too had become enamoured of the truth, with the great poet Keats claiming that all one needs to know on earth is that ‘beauty is truth, and truth beauty’ (an argument which impressed many of his friends and followers but has still failed to fool even the most indulgent examiner come GCSE time). Great authors sought to illustrate profound Truths by their fictions, with writers such as Jeffrey Archer skilfully proving how much truer fiction can be than reality. Great composers sought to touch on truth in their music, with the works of such as JS Bach capable of uniting all humanity by their beauty ... and the work of such as James Blunt capable of uniting all humanity in a desire to tear their own ears off.

By the 20th Century the Truth, truth be told, was in a poor state. We were promised the war to end all wars, peace in our time and told that we had never had it so good - yet all turned out to be false. We were promised that chocolate bars would help us work rest and play but just got fat, we were promised mascara could make our lashes more beautiful by digitally enhanced actresses wearing falsies, we were promised endless channels of quality entertainment and got repeats of old Star Trek Voyager episodes on Sky One. Even our parents, it turned out, had been lying to us: Father Christmas smelled of dad’s whisky, the Tooth Fairy kept a surprisingly good eye on the level of inflation for an inhabitant of Fairieland and that man you saw mum kissing wasn't really your uncle after all.

The Truth became a mere commodity to be bought and sold on the open market, preferably as a completely made up kiss-and-tell story "ghosted" by a tabloid hack for a low-achieving teenager with bleached hair, a fake tan and artificial boobs.

Finally it could stagger on no longer. Attacked by everyone and everything from the Controller of BBC1 to the woman from Russia who emails you every day promising ‘sexy good time’, The Truth shrugged its shoulders, took a job in advertising and was no more.

The Truth will be A) buried at St Jeffrey Archer’s Church of the Blessed Perjuror; B) cremated at the National Rail Enquiries Cathedral of the 'No, That's The Cheapest Ticket I Can Find, Honest'; or C) terminated before the phone lines have closed at the Chapel of St Richard and St Judy. Calls will cost £1.50 a minute and your integrity may be at risk if the caller is a member of your own production team.

(1) not to mention builders preparing estimates and couples arguing about whose turn it was to put the cat out.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Haha! Great funeral arrangements.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Excellent obit!

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Intersting you mention Santa.

I have long believed this white lie we tell children is very damaging.
It's not just a bit of fun.

It is a deliberate deceit by the very people we thought we could trust implicitly.

I think there's a part of us that never truly trusts our parents again when we find out.

I always say there are two myths we grow out of, and the destruction of them turns us into hardened cynics;
Santa Claus as a child.
True Love as an adult.