An Extraordinary Woman

She was born to privilege and a degree of wealth, at the turn of the last century – Muriel Morris, an heiress of the Swift meatpacking fortune, and by most accounts conflicted over that circumstance. Like a scattering of her peers in the debutant world, she had an interest in social justice, as it was generally understood at the time. She is reported to have read Upton Sinclair’s polemic The Jungle as a teenager and been horrified – doubly so as both sides of her family had made their fortunes in the industry which Sinclair portrayed as especially brutal and gruesome. Muriel Morris was also of an unexpectedly intellectual bent and determined enough to pursue her intellectual interests – first with studies at Oxford, England in the 1920s, and then in – of all places, Vienna, Austria, where she hoped to study psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud. She briefly married a British artist, Julian Gardiner, by whom she had a single child, a daughter, before deciding to pursue a medical degree at the University of Vienna in 1926. She had a trust fund sufficiently generous to support herself and her small daughter.

There as the prosperous 1920s turned into the sullen violence-wracked 1930s, Muriel Morris became steadily drawn into anti-Fascist activities in Vienna following the German “Anschluss”, or annexation of Austria. Essentially, she put her money, her energies, and her own personal safety where her mouth was — into the cause of securing safety for those at risk, especially as Hitler’s Germany leaned more and more heavily on Austria’s Jewish population. Muriel Morris sheltered political refugees and Jews in her residences, smuggled passports and paperwork allowing them to exit Austria. She generously and fearlessly provided shelter, funds, references and employment for Jews and other anti-Nazi activists … all of it dangerous work, even for a wealthy and well-connected American expatriate. In between her resistance activities, she found the time and energy to fall in love and marry political activist Joe Buttinger – and to secure his exit from the country. She stayed behind in in Vienna, finally gaining her medical degree in 1939. When the war began, she and Joe Buttinger fled Europe and came home with her daughter to the United States. There, Muriel Morris Gardiner Buttinger continued her studies, working, and writing for many years as a psychiatrist, well respected in her field, a close lifelong friend with Sigmund Freud’s daughter Anna. Eventually, she wrote an account of her activities in the Austrian resistance, but that wasn’t what made her famous in a larger circle.

No, that was another book, this one a memoir by the American playwright and memoirist Lillian Hellman. Lillian wrote movingly in her second memoir, Pentimento, of a dear childhood friend, Julia, who had studied in Oxford in the 1920s, and then moved to Vienna … where she went to medical school there and became involved with the anti-Fascist underground – just like Muriel Morris. Lillian Hellman included a dramatic interlude of a smuggling mission to Berlin which she undertook for her friend, who had been crippled in Fascist violence, and eventually tortured and killed by the Nazis. Lillian wrote in detail of her somewhat improbably smuggling mission, of bringing her friends’ body back to the US, and the death of her friends’ small daughter – at the hands of the Nazis … it made a touching tale, and a spectacularly successful 1977 movie starring a pair of the most tediously leftist actresses of their generation.

The most astonishing thing? It never happened. There was no Julia, no dangerous mission across Europe for Lillian Hellman in the late 1930s; no murder of a wealthy American expatriate – a circumstance which would definitely have attracted the attention of the American press at the time. There was only one American heiress studying medicine in Vienna and active in the anti-fascist underground there; Muriel Morris, who lived to a ripe old age, as did her daughter – neither of them murdered by the Nazis in the 1930s. Lillian Hellman made the whole thing up, unconsciously or deliberately hijacking another woman’s life and activism to make a dramatic chapter of her own life. No wonder that Hellman exploded into fury when contemporary Mary McCarthy accused her of being a liar on national late-night television.

Discuss as you wish.

24 thoughts on “An Extraordinary Woman”

  1. It’s another one of a long line of that same syndrome which creates the “Stolen Valor” phenomenon, and I think it’s almost always on the leftward side of the political spectrum. I know I can’t think of any on the right, off the top of my head, but I’m open to correction.

    There’s something “off” with all these types, and it’s a mental illness that should be somewhere in the DSM. Why would you need to aggrandize yourself like that, lying your ass off in an easily verifiable way, unless there was something deeply wrong with your psyche? And, yet… We see it time and time again, on the left. I can think of dozens of examples, ranging from the way that German Nazis had a tremendous number of WWI “heroes” who exaggerated their service through freaks like Brezhnev and others on the Soviet side who wore medals awarded for mostly bullshit. In American politics and among the “elite”, you see this time and time again. It’s damn near a requirement among the bright lights of the left–Look at Hillary Clinton’s supposed “sniper fire” in Bosnia for examples, or the histrionics spouted by Obama about how good he is at killing people with drones from thousands of miles away.

    Here’s a tell for those who know no better: People who really did things like this? They don’t talk about it. Ever. It’s too traumatizing to relive it all. I have run into exactly one, I say again, one blowhard boaster who actually did what he said he did in my entire life, and he’s someone that everyone around him acknowledges as the outlier, the exception that proves the rule. Everyone else that buttonholes you and tells you that sort of tale of derring-do and horror? They’re almost always lying liars who’re lying their asses off to you about everything…

    People that go through things like that just go on with life, and never mention it, in my experience. They don’t regale you with tales about their secret missions to Berlin and their dead friend’s small children being killed. If it had really happened, she’d have had to have been an utter sociopath with a very flat affect in order to tell all and sundry that tale without the slightest hesitation. And, those types usually don’t talk at all, because they’re totally divorced from any emotional connection to those sorts of things–They don’t bother telling you anything like that because it’s of no moment whatsoever to them.

    So, if someone is telling you stuff like that…? Be very, very wary. You’re either dealing with a fabulist who is willing and eager to lie to you, or you’re dealing with someone whose cheese has slid waaaaaaay off of their cracker.

  2. A good few of her biographers wonder why the heck Lillian H. did it – nakedly hijacking another woman’s history, when it could be so readily proved otherwise. The best estimation is that she came to believe over time that she really had known the woman, and had done a smuggling mission for her, into Nazi Germany.

  3. Which tends to outline an inability to maintain a distinction between reality and that which she imagined. Which again, flows into the rest of her life–Witness the whole deal with her refusal to support Finnish Relief during the Winter War, because, as she put it “I don’t believe in that fine, lovable little Republic of Finland that everyone gets so weepy about. I’ve been there and it seems like a little pro-Nazi Republic to me.”

    Which is all of a piece with her general Stalinist belief system, which system she’d have lasted about five days under, before going in front of Beria or being sent off to the Gulag.

    I’ve about concluded, based on the evidence, that anyone who espouses any and all particular “ideologies” as true believers? They’re generally nuts, and have substituted things they’ve been told for actual thinking about issues. Calling the pre-WWII Finns “pro-Nazi” is about as delusional as you can get; about all they really were was anti-Communist and anti-Stalinist. Which, apparently, was sufficient cause for her to write them and their liberty off entirely. One presumes she’d have been happier had Finnland gone under the knout the way the Baltic republics did…

    Which, admittedly, is understandable given the general anti-semitism prevalent in those republics, but the Finns? WTF? They were ballsy enough to have their Jews having synagogue within direct eyesight of German units they were fighting alongside… The Finns and the Bulgarians are about the only Nazi “allies” who kept their Jews away from the death camps with any real success, and a lot of Finland’s deal stemmed directly from Mannerheim, a seriously old-school aristocrat from the old order.

    Interesting detail of apocrypha I once heard from a Finn… Purportedly, a reason that the Finns treated their Jews differently stemmed from the fact that the Finnish Jews mostly fought for the White side, during the Finnish Civil War. In the Baltics, the Jews were identifiably Red, and Communist sympathizers–Which was one reason they were loathed and so easily “othered”. Or, so I was told by a Finn whose grandmother was one of those Finnish Jews…

    It’s interesting how the oral histories of such things are often very different than what makes it into the history books.

  4. Easy to do for the “Left”, that refuses to accept the concept of “objective truth”. Add a bit of fantasy to a real story and create a “Socialist Hero”. It is all for the “cause”.

    Truth is what they want it to be, hence the current “journalism”. I bet you think that the story about “whipping” the Illegals was just ignorance on the part of the journalist. Actually, it was propaganda that depended on the ignorance and gullibility of their audience.

  5. Nah, I knew it was propaganda from the get-go. The Border Patrol doesn’t do that sort of thing in broad daylight in front of cameras.

    What goes on in the dark, out in the vast darkness of the hinterland? Wouldn’t bet money on the question, at all. I know a few of those guys, and they’re mostly pretty decent types, but when you’re all alone in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of recalcitrant illegals and their coyotes lurking in the background…? I think a few rules get outright slaughtered. Nature of the beast.

    But, in the public view like that? Nuh-uh… Not bloody likely.

    The thing I find really fascinating is the idiocy of the Biden types–Don’t they grasp that the one thing they cannot afford to do is alienate the security organs? Did the fate of Ceausescu elude them? If they keep throwing the cops and Border Patrol agents under the bus, how long do you suppose they’ll maintain the necessary loyalties in the FBI, down below the headquarters levels?

    It’s just really bizarre to observe, like the way the Democrat mayors in Portland and Seattle keep conducting character assassination on their police departments, and then using them as personal security teams. What. The. Fsck? Do they not get that the cops they’re relying on for personal safety are the guys who look at the fate of Derek Chauvin and see themselves going under the same bus…?

    These people aren’t even competent tyrants. They’ve grasped how to gain power, but know nothing of how to retain it in the world they’re so enthusiastically creating, the one where it’s only raw power that survives. They’re not even smart enough to set up their own political party security forces the way the Nazis and Communists did. Which I find darkly humorous, TBH.

  6. “If they keep throwing the cops and Border Patrol agents under the bus, how long do you suppose they’ll maintain the necessary loyalties in the FBI, down below the headquarters levels?”
    Has there been one single whistleblower, one single conscientious resignation, one single anonymous leaker, from the FBI or any other agency, after Ruby Ridge, Waco, the Trump/Russia delusion, etc.? Just one single solitary case? No? Then why should we not believe that the FBI and all other regime security organizations aren’t completely and totally corrupted, not just from the top but at all levels, and that of course there’s nothing that the regime can do to “lose” them. Come on, man…

  7. Was there one single whistle-blower or dissident in the Romanian security forces until that one final day, when the preference cascade tipped…?

    These things, as I’ve told my cop acquaintances well before what happened to Chauvin, don’t happen in increments. It’s an all-at-once sort of thing–One day, you’re going into work, and it’s the same as it always was. The next morning, you get up to find a totally different world than the one you went to sleep in, and you discover that the “things that’ll never change” done changed on you.

    Right now, the FBI is the strong right hand, the Praetorian Guard of the regime. Contemplate how it went in Rome, where one day the Praetorians were the solid support for the Emperor, and the next they were deciding who that Emperor would be…

    I don’t think the people running Biden are necessarily cognizant of these facts, or they’d be doing things a lot differently than they are. You don’t alienate the military and the security agencies with impunity, and the powers-that-be are doing that with incredible obliviousness.

  8. Our elites and PTB are children, even the best of them. They have no idea what their fecklessness and ignorance can lead to. No idea. None.

    Wasn’t Hellman’s memoir the one described with the immortal, ‘Every word in it is a lie, including “and” and “the”‘ ?

  9. “Right now, the FBI is the strong right hand, the Praetorian Guard of the regime. Contemplate how it went in Rome, where one day the Praetorians were the solid support for the Emperor, and the next they were deciding who that Emperor would be”
    Um, the FBI and various other three letter agencies, including the military even, just overtly sabotaged a president and functionally tipped an election to his opponent.
    You’re living in bizarro world if you think that just one more step and some sleeping giant will awaken to save us all from the corrupt crooks who run everything right now…
    New York state is going to wake up tomorrow to find that most hospitals have been effectively shut down–here in Central New York most have announced that the vast majority of their operations will cease immediately, with most systems saying they will be shutting down 2/3 to 100% of their ORs, for example–due to lack of staff caused by these idiotic vaccine mandates. And no one cares. There’s no second guessing at all. What do you think is going to happen when they purge the police, the military, etc.? Somehow people will rise up and we’ll find ourselves back in 1985 or whatever year things last worked well in America? Again I say, come on man…

  10. If they keep throwing the cops and Border Patrol agents under the bus, how long do you suppose they’ll maintain the necessary loyalties in the FBI, down below the headquarters levels?

    It is a plank in the Democratic party platform to abolish ICE and the Border Patrol. Sending the agents of those agencies running for the exits is a feature to the party, not a bug.

    “No border. No wall. No USA at all.” is more than just a slogan.

  11. I used to think that the three-letter agencies, while they might have corrupt politically appointed bosses at the top, below that level were filled with patriotic, ethical folks who would cry foul when those bosses really stepped out of line and broke the law. I no longer believe that.

    You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.
    Sen. Chuck Schumer, 26 Sep 2019

  12. One of the things that I wonder about lately – is the people who cheerfully and eagerly narked out their friends, acquaintances and kin to the FBI for having participated in the January 6 protest. They took the pictures that people posted on F-book and went and tattled to the FBI, and their friends got arrested, harassed, possibly even imprisoned without trial. I should think that the people who informed on others might be spending some sleepless nights, wondering if those who were informed on carry grudges…
    Ugly things happen to informers, when all bets are off. Social shunning would be the least of it.

  13. Cousin Eddie:
    “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.”
    –Mary McCarthy, writing about Lillian Hellman’s memoirs

  14. @Sgt. Mom,

    The sort of naif that posts images on FB and the other “social media” are not the people that the FBI needs to worry about; the sort of people they should be worried about are the guys who don’t need the terms “Robin Sage” and “Pinelandia” explained to them, and whose reflexive default natures inherently prevent them from being social, let alone on “social media”.

    Those guys get in on all this? You’re looking at some “interesting times” for the regime and its supporters. They’ll look back, fondly, on the happy days when it was just a bunch of weirdoes cosplaying as revolutionaries. The actual real-deal types, the ones who’re likely to put their lives and sacred honor on the line? They won’t be filing into the Capitol buildings in between velvet ropes.

    Those, they may be repurposing as nooses for their Congressional delegations…

    Just sayin’… It’s never the blow-hards talking trash that you need to watch and worry about. It’s the quiet guys, watching from the background, who’re slowly simmering about the million-and-one little insults and usurpations by the elites.

    Funny thing is, I’m pretty sure I could tell the FBI and their masters all of this, and they’d never, ever get it. Or, see it coming–Just like all the warnings I and others offered up the same sort of idiots in the hierarchy of the Army about the coming IED warfare issues. They don’t see the issue, so it doesn’t exist. In their minds, they know it all, and they have it under control. The reality is? It’ll come as a total Black Swan event, and they’ll never see it coming, or even recognize the threat until it’s too damn late for them and their masters.

    Real revolutionaries don’t have FB accounts.

  15. Great story! It’s amazing that Morris managed to complete a degree in medicine in Vienna as late as 1939. The Nazis did not envision the ideal role for women as a doctor of anything. When I was in Germany in the mid-70’s, I managed to cut myself rather badly while attending an Army school in Oberammergau. I was patched up by an older female doctor whose husband was also a doctor, and had served on the Russian front during the war. She had apparently swallowed some of the typical German stereotypes of Americans as troglodytes, and took pains to reassure me that she was a competent doctor even though she was a woman. It occurred to me that she must have completed her degree during the Third Reich, and that couldn’t have been easy, but I was too dumb to draw her out on the matter at the time. I’m sure she had some very interesting stories to tell.

    Good for Mary McCarthy for exposing Hellman as a fraud. She was a typical leftist herself, but one of the greatest American novelists regardless. Her “The Group” is vastly underappreciated in my opinion, and is one of the best novels ever written in this country. She was on the Jack Paar show discussing the novel, and all he could do was smirk about the sexy parts. It must have been painful for her, not to mention humiliating. Norman Podhoretz, who was editor of “Commentary” back in the day and wrote some interesting books recording his transition from a leftist to what he described as a “paleo-neoconservative,” referred to her as “America’s leading bitch intellectual.”

  16. Hellman was hardly the first writer to decide that she could write a much more interesting autobiography than reality. A bit more bold than most that are more careful not to make claims that can be checked. The story would have worked fine as a work of fiction, that was the business she was in after all. Of course, that was back in the olden days when writers were expected to draw a line between fact and fiction. Now there are lawyers that make a living by telling writers and publishers just how close they can come to real life without having to pay someone for the privilege.

  17. IIRC, Tom Clancy’s expertise in regard to submarines came mostly from playing the game “Harpoon” in it’s map and counter variant.

    I thought Red Storm Rising was better, personally, and it and Hunt are the only two Clancy’s I recall reading.

  18. Gardiner and her husband shared a divided house with a friend and his wife for ten years. That friend was Hellman’s lawyer, Wolf Sch
    .wabacher. I think that’s how Hellman heard about Gardiner’s adventures in Vienna. He died in 1951, so he couldn’t confirm it either way.

  19. Kirk – September 26, 2021 at 5:34 pm:
    Witness the whole deal with her refusal to support Finnish Relief during the Winter War, because, as she put it “I don’t believe in that fine, lovable little Republic of Finland that everyone gets so weepy about. I’ve been there and it seems like a little pro-Nazi Republic to me.”

    This is especially funny, because Mussolini, who was a sincere anti-Communist, sent aid to the Finns. Hitler, having secretly conceded Finland to the Soviets, blocked the aid shipment.

  20. Liberals are inveterate liars who actually don’t hesitate to attempt to silence criticism with any device available to them, no matter how disproportionate such a device may be?

    NAWWWW…. Really?

  21. }}} There’s something “off” with all these types, and it’s a mental illness that should be somewhere in the DSM. Why would you need to aggrandize yourself like that, lying your ass off in an easily verifiable way, unless there was something deeply wrong with your psyche?

    Isn’t this essentially an offshoot of Munchhausen Syndrome? It isn’t expressing itself in medical terms, but it is much the same, a form of narcissistic personality disorder, caused by a desperate need for attention (and if there is anything associated with liberals, could that be it?)

    I had a friend who had this tendency. It was very strange. He would enlist friends to lie for him to cover up with others his stories.

    …And then assume those friends weren’t capable of putting two and two together when he told them his own tales. Very odd.

    Why Would I Lie?
    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081753/

  22. Sgt Mom
    Your perceptive and fascinating story of the “real” opposed to the “fictional” is so characteristic of our time.

    45 years ago or so, I found Dashiell Hammett interesting – still do to some extent. His communism bothered me, but it was a pretty honest form of it at least. He didn’t write much after he met Hellman, she wrote better stuff. He drank a lot – always had, I guess. But I was feeling protective of him when I started Hellman’s autobiographies. I’d already decided to include Mary McCarthy in my somewhat strange and rambling dissertation. Her struggle with the truth – the truth so firmly in her mind and so clearly not true as she talked to her siblings, as other facts appeared – was honestly rendered. Hellman’s picture of herself seemed such a fake that it irritated me, much as at that time I was drawn into Bergman and Faulkner and the unknowability of the truth and the multiple narrators all having a bit of the truth (the analogy always in my head of the six men with the elephant – even in the midst of my confusion, I always assumed there was a truth, it was just that we should be somewhat humble and recognize that “our truth” was only a small part of what was real) Humility and Hellman can not be linked.

    Well to get back (in a way) to your wonderful, real narrative, Hellman pissed me off so much that, rather than put her in the final chapter of my dissertation (where 3 quite different women’s stories were compared – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Mary McCarthy, and Margaret Mead – and don’t ask me how I decided these 3 were representative but in odd ways they were, I put in an appendix so I could bitch about Hellman.

    For the first time in probably 30 years I pulled it off the shelf. I looked over the last pages of the project I lavished time and affection on, figuring this was my last academic offering – I was off to marriage and soon my own little business and children. And so this was what I thought then – maybe it works with your estimation or maybe it is just observations of someone yet to grow up though 30 by then.

    I don’t know that I went into the “lying” of the actual story so much – my focus was on the dramatic moment of self-awareness, of piercing through their illusions, a focus on self-consciousness and epiphany, that so many female characters have on their way to maturity (and a book’s end). Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Puritan and modern autobiographies all provided fodder. (I was insane enough to keep thinking I’d add a chapter or two or three on Faulkner – but my director and the graduate bureaucracy was losing patience with my musings and pretty much forced my hand – 523 pages were more than most of my committee wanted to read anyway). But never let it be said that I drop a grudge, whether personal or literary. In the last pages I describe her deification in that period (it was 1979 or so), standing in a mink – “what becomes a legend most.” I argued she set the mythic scene and acted the mythic part, but in doing so her persona is remarkably opaque, remarkably without doubt or insight or depth – or honesty
    I’d begun the appendix with a reference to Roy Pascal, one of the great critics of autobiography: “the risk-taking journey he praises requires an assurance that the self is at once mutable and continuous and a faith that the self has both integrity and innate worth. To many modern thinkers even maturity does not bring such assurance and faith; their narrative voices betray a doubt of the self’s coherence.” Well Hellman concocts a mythic heroine that is mythic in both senses – opaque, sure of herself, active, two-dimensional and in the other sense – a myth, a false narrative.
    Patricia Meyer Spacks argues that “the cumulative effect of her lack of self-penetration, her apparent uneasiness in love relationships, her reluctance to contemplate her own writing, her acceptance of a travelogue version of her experience, is to suggest that her central effort has been to create, for her own benefit, as well as for others, a character to meet masculine standards.” Well, there’s some of that, of course. And at the time, she pulled it off. Indeed, it seemed to me that “she tells us she has integrity and the reviews have applauded her wit and honesty”, but she “excels a dialogue and opaque characterizations, at cutting the anecdote down to the staged scene.” She portrays herself as a “tough” woman – “active, judgemental.” She is critical of Hemingway but she seems to have modeled .her persona after his. I argued that she refused to risk the self on an inward journey (ah, I know, that sounds like the seventies but there is some truth to it as well). She doesn’t accept responsibility, I argue (though I don’t argue that I was at that time for some kind of incoherent reason finding her at fault for Hammet’s alcoholism, etc.)

    Toughness and invulnerability in a character can arise from banishing doubts or facing them and moving forward. The latter is hard to do, but the former produces a character who “remains impenetrable, larger than life, entertaining, and two dimensional.” So I finished, with the worst term we could use then for a literary character – even an autobiographical one – two-dimensional.

    A rounded character making complicated choices in a complicated world for complicated reasons – that was what we loved then, I think we still love now. David Foster’s observations about “The French Village” were true – my husband and I are hooked because the characters are at once unpredictable and in character, complex and human. It isn’t a happy series, even minimally. But it does smack of reality a lot of the time. Hellman’s didn’t in her style, in her presentation, and as more information came, in fact. But then, that’s what being a communist has long meant – ask Solzhenitsyn, ask Orwell. Nothing is falsifiable because the truth is what advances the party not what is. And so, there are no problems on the border and leaving Afghanistan was a success and it is not known whether having Covid confers immunity and uteruses and ovaries are not prerequisites to delivering a healthy baby.

  23. You get down to it, and truth is truth. Whether you like it or not.

    The problem with all too many people on the left is that they’re consciously ideological, and they’ve enshrined what they believe as being more important than any truth or reality. The narrative, the “feels”, the story-line… They’re all more important than reality, and reality is a nasty, dirty thing that they don’t want to recognize. This is why it’s so damn difficult to reason with them–They fundamentally cannot bring themselves to cede the slightest point, because that tears down their worldview. Instinctively, they recognize that if they give up on one single point, the whole shoddy edifice comes crashing down.

    I don’t even think this necessarily reflects ideology, either–It’s just that there are more of them, and they run the show on the consciously Left side of things. You can run into the same sort of circular reasoning mentality among “the faithful”, just as you can run into it with those who’re consciously racist or anti-Semitic. No amount of argument or reasoned discussion can change the way they think, because that’s something they’ve made a core piece of their identity.

    The fabulist is often the same; they’ve lost the ability to recognize that they’re telling lies, because if they do admit that they do, in the smallest way, the whole sweater comes unraveled around them, and they cannot do such a thing to themselves.

    I’m not sure I’d want to call myself “conservative” or “liberal”, because that straight-jackets my self-definition into the sort of non-thinking automaton-ism that I loathe in these people. I’d prefer that we discussed this sort of thing along another axis entirely, that of pragmatism, with only one real qualifier about the patterns of your thinking: Does it work?

    I’d be all for the “liberal agenda”, if I saw any evidence that it actually worked, instead of encouraging economic and personal folly. Sure, you can be happy as a lone free-spirit with all your very own special pronouns, but the question is this: Does that actually work in any real social context, or are you just playing the damn fool to make yourself feel all special-snowflakey?

    Once upon a time, I, too was an adolescent twit, insisting on a totally out-of-the-norm spelling for the boring old first name my parents saddled me with. Went with that, for most of high school, even. Then, at some point, the whole thing just became tedious and it struck me that I was just trying to get attention by doing it, and the attention that that garnered wasn’t really the sort I actually wanted. So, I stopped that particular foolishness.

    All too many of these people simply haven’t grown up enough to recognize that they’re really not all that special, and need to recognize that their specific and personal imperfections and dissatisfications are nothing particularly profound or meaningful in the greater picture of things.

    I’ve known a lot of fabulists in my life, some petty, some major, some truly epic. None of them ever struck me as being particularly useful or valuable people to know or interact with, entertaining as they might have been at a party. The ones who lost themselves in their stories were mostly just sad, and the ones who could remember the actual, verifiable truth? They were people you learned to avoid, because they’re instinctive con artists and manipulators, lying to serve their own purposes.

    Truth ain’t relative. You lie in some things, you’re probably lying in a lot of others.

    Although, there is something of a virtue in the social white lie, the ones you tell so as not to be an utter sociopathic asshole, and not puncture the necessary delusions of others. Drawing that line is a difficult one, however, and I’ve never been very good at it, usually opting for the harsh truth rather than the easy lie. Although, sometimes I’ve done that without meaning to, because I’m a social idiot…

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