Tuesday, August 15, 2006


How does one define honesty? At what point does acting contrary to your desires become dis-honesty? Can a person be said to lie if nothing said was untrue but every action, every intonation, screams untruth?

A song asks if people see the ‘real you’. What does it mean to say that there is a ‘real you’ and an ‘unreal you’? What is the difference between public and private personas?

I often forget how much I put on when I interact with others. It is not until I have the opportunity to ‘be myself’ – to interact openly and honestly – with someone, that I notice myself. When I am with most people, I am guarded with my behaviour. I talk a great deal about irrelevant topics in hopes of avoiding topic that are important to me. I try to never lie with my words, but I wonder how much truth I present in my mannerisms.

It is interesting how quickly one can become comfortable with another person. A friend (currently known as HouseGuest -- there is a pun in that name) came to stay. We had the most amazing conversations. We were able to discuss things I have never been able to share with anyone else before. Perhaps it is because we share similar backgrounds. I didn’t know her very well before she came – though I am acquainted with her family – but it quickly became easy to be open with her. There are very few people in the world that I have been that open with, and never anyone so quickly.

Now, I notice the disparity between my openness with HouseGuest and my guardedness with people I interact with on a daily basis.

At what point does the definition of honesty fall in to obscurity? Why can’t I phrase this entry the way I want to? I’ll publish it anyway, but I don’t think I’ve said things right.


Jen said...

I've often thought of the division between public and private personas and I've thought about which is the true representation of an individual. But, that for me is too limited.

I think everything that we express is an aspect of who we are, even if it's a lie. It still represents something we're insecure about, uncomfortable with, or even who we're uncomfortable with. Dishonesty occurs for a reason and it's the rationality behind it that dictates who we are.

I think trust and honesty are interconnected. Your degree of trust delegates your level of honesty and vice versa. In this manner, it's cyclical.

EGJ said...

As for not being able to phrase things the way you want to, I think Hermann Hesse's comment on this in Siddharta says it best: "Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish."

As for the rest, well, I have nothing particularly wise to add. I think though, that added to the propensity to be guarded towards others, we can also be guarded towards ourselves. I myself have a great longing for honesty, while at the same time I realise how idealistic that wish is. Can there be honesty? Is not 'honesty' itself another mask? We can use scare quotes to emphasise the masks, but to return to language - how could we ever speak with 'our own' words? On the contrary, the closer I get to people, the more I feel the distance between us, the more I realise (as Pamela Jaskoviak wrote in a poem once) that we never become one another. Is this necessary for honesty? I don't know. I just think that with all the layers of meaning present in each action, not to mention each conversation, how can we hope for complete honesty? After all, we are flux. What may seem 'honest' one moment could be something else the next. I cringe at old texts, even as I know that they were 'honest' when I wrote them.