The Secret Wants to Be a Lie

By gnuckx [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By gnuckx [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I find that this blog, particularly by being anonymous, has been extremely cathartic for me. Without fear of being seen, or “caught,” or judged by family or friends or students or even strangers who might someday know me, I feel more able to be honest, to let go of things. As Oscar Wilde once said: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell the truth.” Of course, the truth is slant, as the famous Emily Dickinson poem goes. I fudge facts and details, I make things up, I fictionalize, I sometimes – as I did with “Gone” – write short stories that somehow get closer to the truth of my feelings far more than non-fiction does. Lying in fiction, and I think in blogging, can sometimes be the same thing as telling the whole, genuine truth.

Poet Jorie Graham once wrote:
“The secret cannot be
It wants to be crossed over, it wants
to be a lie.”

David Jauss, in his book Alone With All That Could Happen, explains that line thus: “Even if we know our secret selves (and that’s a big if), it’s almost impossible to raw our true faces for our readers merely by reporting what seems to be the ‘truth.’ Instead, like Shakespeare, like Chekhov, we have to imagine we are someone else, we have to wear a mask; in short, we have to lie. For a lie is nothing more, nor less, than the means to make a secret public while still keeping it secret.” This seems true for some blogging too.

That’s not to say I lie often, or about big things, in my blog. Most of what I write is the literal, as well as the emotional truth. But I blur lines, I forget or hide details, I combine events or people, and I do this for the sake of privacy, for the sake of my sense of embarrassment and pride, and for the sake of the emotional reality that hides behind the literal facts of everyday life.

Because I think that’s what most, if not all of us, are really trying to get at. The emotional reality that hides behind the literal facts of everyday life. And focus on the facts sometimes does not allow that other reality to show through. The secret wants to be a lie, so that it can become the truth.

Silent Sister


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