Pinocchio

A riddle:

You come to a fork in the road. One way leads to safety, and the other way to death. One liar and one truth-teller are there (you can’t tell them apart) and you only have time to ask one question. What will you ask and which road will you take?

Answer: “Which road would the other person take?”

The truth-teller knows the other person lies, so they know the other person would say the road that leads to death.

The liar knows that the truth-teller will say the correct road, so because he lies, he will also say the road that will lead to death.

So you take the other road.

*

If only there were liars and truth-tellers.

I find, in actuality, people are somewhere in between.

As House says, “Everyone lies.” This is true. But conversely, everyone also tells the (ostensible) truth.

We do both. We tell lies to others. We tell lies to ourselves, in different contexts, in different ways.

And even when our intentions are honest, even when we are trying our hardest to convey emotions and events accurately, language can betray us. The entire existence of the intellectual discipline of semiosis, and even more specifically linguistic semiosis (the production of meaning by symbolic means), attests to the fact that even in the act of producing language, we are translating reality into an approximation of its former self, a shadow of what actually happened, and never, ever 100% objective fact.

*

An awesome slave I met at a munch not too long ago sent me a message telling me she enjoyed my writings, especially my “brutal self honesty.”

To her, I answer, “I try.”

It’s the best I can do. The best any of us can do.

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