“The Truth Isn’t What I Said”

Like a lot of America, I was momentarily transfixed by Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.  Not so much with the interview itself, but more with the news coverage associated with it.  And what jumped out at me was a blurb I read in the print edition of the New York Times with the following quote from Armstrong: “The truth isn’t what I said”.  I must have read and re-read that statement  six, seven maybe a dozen times trying to figure out whether he was admitting to lying or maybe lying about his lying.  It seemed very complicated but I think I finally got it straight…he’s a liar.  Yet, I was impressed by his clever way of admitting the truth (or not lying).  The syntax he chose has the feel of a game of three card monte where the meaning of what he’s saying is not exactly where one thinks it is.  Turns out the guy is a world-class liar, as well.  Whether he was abetted by lying steroids is for someone else to figure out.

Being as impressionable as I am,  I’ve incorporated his style when I’m answering questions I find disquieting.  For example, now when I’m asked how old I am, my response is, “Sixty is not how old I am”. You can’t get any more truthful than that.

It seems this inverted way of talking has gotten a foothold in our culture.  Just the other day I was reading an article about what constitutes being middle class in New York City and a discussion of the anxiety around  pre-school options and costs was explored.  One mother, Anna Tolstoy, offered :”The trauma of kindergarten I still have not forgotten”.  Maybe  this is how the world is speaking nowadays and my newly cloistered life has insulated me from these changes. Or maybe she’s Leo’s great granddaughter and she’s just quoting something Anna Karenina said. I don’t remember hearing anything like that in the movie but the book is huge…and it’s possible that it appears somewhere in the first 2200 pages.

There was an article in the New Yorker not long ago that in a loose way (very loose–the blog well is very low) relates to the vaguery and awkwardness of the use of  language I’ve been discussing.  Some fellow in California has spent a number of decades creating a new language, Ithkuil.  Apparently, his enterprise is not unique; efforts like his have been going on for centuries.

Ithkuil has two seemingly incompatible ambitions: to be maximally precise but also maximally concise, capable of capturing nearly every thought that a human being could have while doing so in as few sounds as possible. To accomplish this the inventor has created a unique set of characters for his alphabet.  From what I gleaned from the article, everything I’ve written to this point could have been expressed in Ithkuil by the simple statement: ^*∞∀∑∅≈∍⊆∆.

Which could be great news for you blog readers.  Just think, with the time you’d save reading the blog, you might be able to get through all of Anna Karenina!

"Success, isn't what your network has had."

“Success, isn’t what your network has had.”

 

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4 Responses to ““The Truth Isn’t What I Said””

  1. yduj Says:

    my feelings about this blog are not mine or anyone else’s….and may not actually be feelings at all!

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    which could easily have been stated in Ithkuil as: )` ~ *^.

  3. Rob Says:

    This is a funny one!

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      This is sad. They’re ALL supposed to be funny.

      But I appreciate it.

      Hope you’re well…been reading your stuff. bravo!

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