stories and lies

About 12 years ago as I was painting the ceiling I listened on the radio to an event I think was called the Massey lectures, from Canada. That year the speaker was Robert Fulford.

It connected with me because at that time I was teaching two students both of whom concocted (possibly) blatantly untrue stories about themselves. One I discovered was being beaten at home and I think now, that she had had enough of do gooders poking their noses in. That by telling the nurse, the counsellor and me the same story she’d have visitations, nothing would be solved and it would only be worse for her. I hope she escaped and is ok.

The other student would turn up each week with a new version of a story involving marriages, children and so on. Clearly some of what she said was true. Other students told stories too – fabrications and enlargements.

Fulford says that we need to make a story of our life, and that if we don’t have one we construct it. His chapter “Gossip, lies and fictions of the self’ outlines several major cases where people have assumed and sustained a persona. “Literature of the streets and shaping news’ talks of the way stories grow, and in today’s parlance ‘go viral’. He refers to Orwell, Toynbee, Hemmingway and many others in his thesis.

I ordered the book from Amazon, after the lovely woman at Unity Books was not able to trace it in print or in a NZ agent in spite of her best efforts. It’s one of the books that makes you go ‘aha’ much like Edward Hall‘s book The silent language.

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