Another day, another NaNo at an end–made it to 35212 words this month–though the validate-your-word-count thingy says I only did 34941. Well, fuck you, word-count validater–you don’t know shit!
Anyway, to say farewell to April, here’s 518 of the words I wrote this month for ‘518‘, in which our protagonist, Ira, discusses with an alien classmate, ‘Art’, the definition of lying–which is one of the stereotypes humans are labelled with in this universe–as they search an abandoned space station for intruders…
The area around us was clear in all directions. So I asked him, “Tell me, Art—what makes something a lie?”
“Presently I have the feeling you’re asking not so that I will give my definition, but so you will give yours.”
That put a smile on my face. “Usually one of you would have humoured me longer. Or just started calling me names. You know, funnily enough, in the, uh… culture, I guess you’d say, that I belonged to… lying was condemned. ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’, they said. Everyone still did it anyway, obviously, but I read,” I looked around quickly again. Still nothing. “–about this guy, or what he’d written rather, on that subject.”
With a gesture I invited him to follow me down the corridor so we could continue the search, and I could start babbling on about the words of Augustine of Hippo.
“He said there were three parts to a lie. One, that the information’s false. Two, that the person making the statement believes the information’s false. Three, that they intend that the person they’re making the statement to is deceived by the false information.”
“But doesn’t it necessarily follow that if you believe your statement is false, you must intend for that person to be deceived?”
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you? He got kind of convoluted with his reasoning; that being if someone asked you if there was danger on the road or something, and you knew there was, but you said there wasn’t because you thought the other person wouldn’t believe you, then that would be a false statement without the intent to deceive.”
I turned and looked around behind us. Nothing back the way we’d come yet.
“But that does have the intent to deceive,” Art argued. “It just doesn’t have the intent to harm.”
“Nah, because the intent is that they’ll believe the correct information—therefore not deceitful. Similarly, when I tell you I’m no good in combat, it’s not because it’s true I’m no good in combat, it’s because I don’t want to deceive you into thinking I can always be relied on. Because I know I can’t.”
They didn’t call me ‘Irascariot’ back on Earth for nothing, after all.
Art was silent for quite a while taking that in.
Eventually, and to my surprise, he told me; “Thank you. Selena don’t attach so much complexity to such matters, so I am grateful for the explanation.”
“You don’t? Say it ain’t so.”
“Indeed, we save such complexity for the institution of the hierarchy.”
I stopped in my tracks. That was the second time since I’d met him I’d been sure Art had told an actual joke.
“But just so you know, Ira; I would not have concluded that your conduct in one situation would definitely translate over exactly the same to every other. I would only have proceeded on the assumption that anticipating similar conduct would be reasonable. I appreciate, however, that certain others may not understand that difference.”
“Well, I’ll try not to be quite so manipulative towards you in the future,” I assured him.