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Claude Monet: House of the Customs Officer, Varengeville (1882)

"Would be potentates might finally receive a subpoena."

Now and then, a politician will come along primarily dedicated to misrepresenting everything. They might start small but eventually expand their practice to include every blessed thing that comes out of their mouth. They seem to be enjoying the time of their life without compunction or consequences at first. They don't age. Their story changes unselfconsciously into whatever form seems most useful at any moment, always delivered with the same supreme confidence. Anyone might come to question their judgment listening to these lies, for it violates some primal comportment to so blithely misrepresent. Eventually, even gravity loses meaning. There are those still believing, and everyone else. True believers, by which I mean those who have built their belief upon utter falsehoods, will maintain unshakeable belief, and that belief will become their uncontestable truth.

Not even politicians ever manage to avoid the truth forever.
Certainly, their dedicated followers might manage to slip through, fueled only by metastasized delusion, but the politician will have long before tumbled into a kind of limbo where they must continue the dance they no longer believe in and which no longer protects them from consequences. Most more or less fade away, but a few, like our current ex-president, will insist upon a much more spectacular exit, though even he will eventually exit his stage. His demise might subsequently have made Shakespeare himself proud. In his time, he will all but disappear, garnering perhaps a quarterly mention in a back page Remembering When column in third-rate newspapers. Few of us will ever forget.

Our social contract requires that each of us stick to the truth. Sure, we each dabble in delusion and gussy ourselves up for public presentation, but most of us fail to muster a convincing disguise. We are each precisely who we are and never manage to fall very far from the tree that initially bore us. A blessed few of us ever attempt to cross the border between truth and fiction, and even the more successful movie stars tend to eventually have to come back to Earth, ultimately more haunted by their misrepresentations than blessed by them. When falsehood creeps into our stories, we transform our lives into parodies, the purpose of which always proves the same: failing to prevent the underlying truth from escaping. It's never the case that the inconvenient truth escapes exposure. This universe seems weighted toward full disclosure, however much we might attempt to avoid it.

The Muse was blessed with a curious superpower. She claims to have never once gotten away with anything in her life. Cross some line, and she'd get caught. Shave an edge, and someone would notice. She adopted a clever strategy in response. She never even tries to get away with anything shady. Her taxes have always been full disclosure. Even her expense reports have been honest. Even when nobody's looking, she is. She catches herself even thinking about misrepresenting and squelches the urge, for she knows that if she follows that route, comeuppance will be coming; a matter of when never if. I would that we all were blessed with her sense, that we just naturally insisted upon coloring within the lines, that none of us needed a line judge watching. We're human, and that naturally translates into messy. The universe, though, remains a patient teacher. Every time we forget our lessons, she quietly reminds us. Would-be potentates might finally receive a subpoena—the rest of us, some less dramatic reminder.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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