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Andrew Wyeth, Trodden Weed (1951)
Oh, what a tangled web we weave,/ When first we practise to deceive! - Sir Walter Scott: Marmion, Canto 6, stanza 17
"Am I dreaming?"

I no more speak in absolute truths than I speak in iambic pentameter. I ain't no Shakespeare but I retain a voice and I use it. I work hard to avoid abusing my voice. I attempt to approximate truths I cannot absolutely prove while avoiding passing on misrepresentations, even when these acts might threaten my position, whatever that is. I ain't no politician, either. I studied advertising in school, and that exposure convinced me against choosing a career in the since-burgeoning propaganda industry. I still struggle to promote myself, firmly believing that my good intentions might chase out others' bad. I'm consequently a lousy competitor. I'm not anybody's 'better than sliced bread' innovator. Commercial bluster attempts to balance information and persuasion to convince skeptical buyers to let down their guard for a minute, but once the meme enters, there's never any effective means for undoing it. I might seem naive, but I, most days, manage to bear living with myself. Some substances effectively replace the benign with the poisonous such that one grows to lose their ability to live without their poison, and lying works precisely like this. Once a false premise gains dominance, it costs Hell's own expense to escape. Some barking damages far worse than most bites.

The society we inhabit has swallowed plenty of rubber worms, often without obvious remorse.
We seem increasingly incapable of accurately parsing incoming, which leaves us at a remarkable disadvantage, prone to sometimes insist upon even more rubber worms, regardless of the hooks we've previously swallowed along with them. We might have lost some of our founding self-determination under the guise of freedom, and grown dependent upon so-called trusted sources to keep us safely in thrall, the most imperiling possible position. We have whole industries dedicated to misinforming us for fun and further profit, exclusively offering false prophets in lieu of actual ones. They feed us shit and we deeply appreciate them for this, symbiosis replacing conscience and threatening decency; the sanctimonious seen as saviors of various hegemonies, as if hegemony were liberty incarnate.

My own family has become victim to this degradation, demeaning decency and encouraging attempted larceny. I have relatives who firmly disbelieve in relativity, promoting fantabulous absolutes. They commit sins of coerced commission, and a part of me forgives them for the sins they cannot seem to perceive themselves committing. They have been cleverly encouraged. I need not counter absolutism with absolutes, for truth demands considerably less, as it remains relative, after all. My own fuzzier focus must seem a poor defense and a much worse offense. They take offense. One does not clean livestock with muddy water. A certain separation seems essential. Better to curry a horse in pasture than within a soiled stall. I send invitations which often fall on deafened ears. Maybe no middle ground exists.

As we clean up the place in preparation for selling it, I've gained an increasing interest in caustics, compounds capable of scouring surfaces, hopefully without inflicting damage. Muriatic acid can strip dried concrete from a car finish without affecting that finish, a seemingly magical accomplishment. It burns flesh, though, so one must observe certain precautions when using it, rather like telling a truth or a falsehood. We attempt to employ absolute truths in courts of law, knowing that we'll usually achieve some dilution of them in practice. The whole truth and nothing but seems caustically equivalent to unbridled Lye-ing, offering little upon which opposing perspectives might find agreement. The middle ground, between pasture and paddock, seems certain to feature some mud in it, which seems likely to encourage less than a perfectly clean horse as a result, but that beats one completely covered in mud. I can't stay quiet and I cannot scream. It seems we might find common ground somewhere between these two. Am I dreaming?

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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