Lies, Lies and Resumés

It was Francis Bacon who wrote of three forms of lies in his essay “Of Simulation and Dissimulation”, which you can read in full here:

Bacon told of three forms of lying.  Secrecy, which is the hiding of the truth, is the least of them.  Dissimulation, which is the art of misdirection without overtly lying is the second.  Finally you have simulation, which is the overt telling of porky pies.

In the Catholic church we have a whole sub-classification system for excusing lies.  They can be good lies, which we sometimes call “white lies”.  These are told to save someone from harm or to avoid causing them pain.  It is the automatic response to the question “does my bum look big in this?”  (For reference the answer to western white women is “You look great” and to Afro/Caribbean women the answer is I believe “Hell yeah!”)

Then we have venal lies, which are bad, but can be easily absolved with a standard confession. 

Mortal lies are the really terrible ones, that require pilgrimages, sackcloth and ashes.

It is interesting to run through your resumé and to classify the lies you have told.  Which ones are secrecy, leaving out salient information that will not get you hired.  Which ones are dissimulation, where you “suggest” achievements or seniority that is a stretch of the truth.  Which ones are outright lies.  Watch the latter, because those are the ones that can trip you up.

So to one of the great liars:

Matilda; by Hillaire Belloc

Who told lies, and was burned to death.

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London’s Noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
‘Matilda’s House is Burning Down!’
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda’s Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed;
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away,
It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out–
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street–
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidnce) — but all in vain!
For every time she shouted ‘Fire!’
They only answered ‘Little Liar!’
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.