"Tell all the truth but tell it slant/Success in circuit lies." Emily Dickinson
"Truth is a bitch who must to kennel." Lear's Fool
To live beyond truth or fact, where the waves respond to the commands of King Canute, and any mention that they don't is forbidden to the Park Service, is to reach the dead end of postmodernism, where a Kellyanne Conway, or Sean Spicer, reinvents the sophistries of a Stanley Fish. Episteme lackeys power. Ethics, too, obviously. If postmodernism was born in Paris and Brussels under the Occupation, drawing on Nietzsche and Heidegger, what can we learn from those who went before us? We are all collaborators now.
The genres that will serve us, if will to truth still rankles, will not be the tweet, the essay, or the lyric. Satire and Tragedy, the dance of the goat, where Dionysus says, as in the opening words of The Bacchae: "I am Dionysus," and is Dionysus, because he the actor says so, in the Theater of Dionysus, at the Festival of Dionysus. And the king's head presented in the last act is confirmation. Fable, too, and allegory, and parable, still work. But if you wish to live well and prosper, and are committed to the sincere plain-style, the style of the honest man, you had better reread DeMan, on blindness and insight, and learn how sinuous and deceptive the truth-full essay must be, the moral truth, if we are to compromise ourselves with panache, and to become the hole (the aporia) through which death in life streams. When the moment of truth arrives, when self, world, and utterance align in the literal, the ritual is sacrifice. "I am Dionysus."
"The truth is a lie in accordance with a fixed convention," said Kellyanne Conway, or actually it was Nietzsche. "Facts are a mobile army of metaphors," said Sean Spicer, or actually that too is Nietzsche. The literal truth is to lie with. "Metaphors are more tenacious than facts," said Bannon. Or, actually it was Paul De Man. The only lies worth repeating are the old ones. And the best are found in Dante, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, fables of kings and clothes, the importance of being earnest, or the belling of a cat. We must embrace lies, and learn to lie better. I have been practicing for years, with alternative facts, alternative ethics, alternate egos. I have learned how to preach moral truth in public, at the Corner of Wealth and Bondage, so as to be never understood, and hence spared the indignity of a bully's beatings. "Nakedness," said a mentor once, "is sometimes the best disguise." So, tweet, scribble, and blog earnestly. Friend and follow. As long as you do it from behind the mask of fool, dupe, rogue or knave. Only then, slantwise, is truth, all truth. Postpone the moment of literal truth, the moral truth, as you would your own death.
The priest who slays the goat is slain in turn.