So you know I love Joseph Conrad. And these couple of sentences are a reason I love him, as well as a sort of symptom of what makes me love him:
"You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies, - which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world - what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do."
I've read and nodded my head 10, 20 times at that before, but today it rings true in my head more clearly than it ever has. Not just as a quick, effective literary device to make Marlow into a living, breathing thing in Heart of Darkness - dear Marlow, I've got such a crush on him - but almost as a manifesto.
It's because of my job, of course. As a business journalist I'm lied to an a daily, hourly basis, and when I'm not being lied to I'm being obfuscated to, and not being a political animal to me it's the same damn thing. And what hurts the most is that these are grown men lying to me, lying in a bald-faced manner that they can't possibly expect me to believe, but they do expect me to believe.
Because I'm very vain, the most painful thing about that used to be that I couldn't bear so many hundreds of people thinking I was stupid. But I got over that, as it's nothing personal; I could be fucking Einstein and they'd still be trying to bullshit me. Now the most painful thing about it is that I feel these grown men (and I mean men -female contacts aren't more forthcoming, but when I ask a question whose answer they don't want to give me they usually stand on the fifth) are lying with the gracelessness of children, but that they're grown men, so it's tragic.
It's tragic because they're stuck in the worst of childhood (guile and bullying) while spinning their way to the worst of age and mortality (greying, balding, fattening, coarsening, suppurating, drooping, and losing their health and energy), utterly wasting the incredible luck (if you're an atheist), the incredible beneficence of our creator (if you're garden-variety religious), or the incredible opportunity for discovering the higher nature of existence (if you're Buddhist - I think, I'm just guessing about that religion based on all the Monkey! we've been watching) that is the fact that I'm alive, you're alive, that we're all alive and who we are. Utterly wasting all that like it means nothing, and they might as well already be dead.
And all that's standard - that's how industry, how business works. I can't bear it sometimes. Frankly, it stresses me. My job isn't horribly demanding in terms of the quantitative workload but sometimes it does get hard to bear all these damn, stinking lies. But at the same time, I love it. I love exposing a lie. I love being lied to and then slapping that lie with the truth. I love collecting two dozen lies and extracting the truth from them. It feels really good. It feels like an abusive but, shall we say, very satisfying relationship, and I don't write that lightly.
Still, I need to find a way to deal with all of this without getting stressed. If I move from business journalism into political journalism or standard garden variety journalism it's not as though I can expect the lies to get any less frequent, blatant, or brutal. I need to find a way to not be so stressed by them.