John Ostrander: Face Front, True Believers!

You may be wondering just what the heck is going on here with my face.

Alt. Explanation 1: You should see the other guy. Be-YOO-Ti-Full! Not a mark on him! It was a privilege to see him work!

Alt. Explanation 2: I leaped out of the second floor of the burning house, the kitten cradled in my arms and I landed on my face.

Alt. Explanation 3: Don’t piss off Mary. Which I may have just done. (Just Joking, Dear!)

Alt. Explanation 4: My face got nibbled by piranha. (Don’t ask.)

Alt. Explanation 5: I had some minor growths on my face that my doctor wanted to be checked out and so the skin doctor nicked them off and sent them to the lab. Probably not cancer but we’ll know for sure in about two weeks.

So… which one sounds like the true explanation? That’s right – the boring one. #5. However unlikely the other four sound, they are potentially the more entertaining stories, true or not.

You see, I am a professional liar. It’s how I make my living. I make up stories and try to make them seem/feel real so that other people buy them. Companies pay me to do this.

The lies I tell (okay, the “fictions”) are in service to the truth or to a truth. They have to feel true, feel real, to the reader at least for the duration of the experience. Hey, Jesus did it. He spoke to them (the crowds) in parables and without parables, he did not speak to them. Matthew 13:34. You can look it up. The events in the parables never happened; they’re lies – in service to truths Jesus was trying to teach. It’s the same in all religions.

I include “non-fiction” in this. The authors aren’t telling the whole truth – they focus on certain events, emphasizing these, de-emphasizing those, depending on the narrative they’re telling. They are after the (a) truth and we need those liars who can take the mountain of events and find context and meaning – truth – in them.

That’s the big difference between artists and (shall we say) certain government spokespersons – the artist is after the truth and the spokesperson is trying to sell something. That’s a whole different kind of lie. It is, as often as not, intended to obscure or confuse what is true while the artist is trying to get at some form of the truth, to reveal it. Intent is everything.

The intent of four of the five explanations for the photograph of my face is to amuse you and entertain myself. Those of you who know me and Mary know she would never hit me except once with a plastic whiffle bat.

That’s a good story, a fun lie, but for another time.