Sunday, December 27, 2009

on lies

"the Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived" - Eomer, The Two Towers (44).

Over the past few days, I've been re-stepping through Tolkien's epic, inspired by my weathered but ever-fond memories of youthful journeys through its pages. Having just finished the first volume, I picked up The Two Towers tonight, to begin thumbing through its pages before slumber.

In doing so, I came across the comment made here by Eomer, and thought it an interesting one. Specifically, it seems to reflect a belief about Honesty - or Deception - that opposes what I often see as the default assumption.

There is a tendency, I think, for us to think that ears too accustomed to true tales will quickly assume the truth of falsehoods - that is, that hearing only the truth will make us more gullible, and susceptible to being misled.

But I rather like the point of view that Tolkien presents here: to him (or, at least, to Eomer), hearing truth doesn't dull one's ears to lies, but rather sharpens them to the scent of what is true. The innocent, in this case, are not gullible; rather, their very innocence preserves an innate and disarmingly natural propensity towards the true and lovely over the false and sham.

That my own ears might be filled with the truth, so that the darkness of lies might recede into unfamiliarity.

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