Sunday, June 24, 2007

One more and then I must stop

While in Canada we bought a copy of Esquire.

As it says on the cover, "Some Angie, a little King..what else does a man need for summer?"

So yes, we bought it because of the photos of Angelina Jolie and the short story by Stephen King. We bought it in Canada because my husband was worried that it might actually be sold out by the time we got back (it's not). The three photos of Angie are awesome but the article is terrible. The King is good, but not great.

Anyway, there's an article in it about the concept of Radical Honesty. I think I had vaguely heard of this, but not really looked into it. Basically it's a system/movement started by a guy named Brad Blanton who proposes that we would all be happier if we just stopped lying. All together. Completely.

Not even little white lies to make other people feel better. He says all lies are designed to disguise ourselves. In theory it sounds great, but then, so does communism. A little warning light goes off in my mind when I learn the guy has been married FIVE times. I'm not sure how many of those are after he began/found this movement. He says that people will be hurt by your honesty, but if you stay with them after the hurt, you can build a better relationship, help them and help yourself.

I lie. Less than I used to, but more than I'd like. I lied yesterday to get out of something (and I'm not going to tell you what). Like my quote says at the top. I think I'm honest with myself (but I wouldn't know, would I?). I generally believe in more honesty than less. Tying in with the previous post, I don't feel that J and D are very honest with themselves--that their friendships are lies in a way. I have often worked with women and men (mostly women) who talk about how they hate conflict, avoid it, "why can't everyone just get along," but what they really do is smother their resentments and become passive/aggressive. I'd rather work with a flat out bitch than the passive/ aggressive. At least you know where you stand and how to behave. With the p/a it's always like walking on eggshells--where is the aggression going to come out. And it lingers--forever. If you are honest but polite, it hurts for a bit but it passes. All out anger is not a condition that can be sustained. Resentment--seething beneath--is always present. Rip the band-aid off, leap in the cold water. That said, would I really be able to take it if the honesty were dished in my direction? Or would I curl up into a ball. If someone really said, "You're a mediocre actress. You're fat. You're annoying. You'll never do anything with your life because you are lazy and undisciplined. You think you dress with flair but really you just look silly."

Likewise would any of my friends recover if I said, "Your writing is amateur and self-absorbed. You smell. You dress like you stopped buying clothes in 1978. You do this to yourself over and over again."

Now, Blanton does teach how to do this--rather like the system one learns in basic therapy. When you do this, I feel... I resent how you... It makes me angry when you... He also recommends admitting physical attraction whenever it comes up and also discussing ugliness. Those two worry me--a) because once something is known it often becomes more fascinating. In one of the truisms of my mother, "It's always flattering to know someone likes you--it makes them more fascinating than they might have been." And b) what if the ugliness is beyond their control? He believes that by discussing it openly you actually restore their self-esteem--this is who I am. I don't think I buy that.

I'm not sure where the middle ground is on this. Like I said, I feel I'm pretty honest at work--with bosses, etc. even if it means some conflict. I do lie to keep people liking me (even people I don't really like--as in the quote below) and sometimes to avoid repercussions--but less than I use to. I used to lie to seem smarter or better informed--I'm trying to break that habit as well. There are certainly friends I would like to be more honest with--to try and shake them out of ruts--paths I've been down with them before and I wonder if I'm helping them by being quiet. Maybe the friendship would suffer, but they might get free. Likewise if people were more honest with me I might be freer--know myself better.


Art said...

I always thought that the Jim Carrey film, Liar, Liar, was brilliant in its concept.

In that examination of how life would be if we couldn't lie at all, the protaganist can't even make it through his walk into the office without becoming beat up ostracized and in danger of losing his job.

The comedy veers a little too much in the direction of Carrey's broad performance, and sometimes loses its way by concentrating too much on nastiness rather than the truth.

For my money, the best gags are when the truth just slips out when he probably meant to say something else:

In one scene, Carrey gets on the elevator with an attractive, buxom woman.

Carrey: New in the building?

Woman: Yeah. Everybody's been real real nice.

Carrey (nice and casual): Well, that's because youre boobs are big.

Then, as he tries frantically to cover up his faux pas, he keeps making it worse as the truth keeps coming out.

Novel said...

I love Liar Liar. Actually the Esquire article references the film. Of course, I think Carrey is an underrated actor--that he can play straight and play it well, and I like him crazy in this. The director is the same as Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty. Have you watched the outtakes? Basically they just let Carrey try 3 or 4 or 5 absurd things and keep rolling. The versions not used on the elevator scene are priceless. Likewise, you get Swoozy Kurtz calling Carrey "Over Actor" (actually I think those are in the credits, now that I think about it.) Anyway, my favorite moment is with the secretary when he blurts out things to this woman whom he obviously likes AND needs like the fact he could have given her a raise and didn't and would have gotten the criminal in her friends suit more money.

Matt said...

That thing about attraction is the killer. I craved "raw honesty" for a long time, back in about 1998-2002, but I was also constantly dancing around people with antisocial tendencies, and negotiating the appropriateness of dating someone much younger, someone who was in the midst of a divorce, someone who has made a life of lying to herself and others.

Sometimes it's far more noble (maybe?) to shoulder the burden of your own guilt, rather than purge with a confession and get the catharsis, yet offload that "truth" to the person you've wronged. I dunno. I'm still trying to work through that one. I have been for about a decade.