The Art of Being Well Deceived

Sunday, October 10, 2010 – The Art of Being Well Deceived

The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived. ~ Oscar Wilde

Life is the art of being well deceived; and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted. ~ William Hazlitt

A doctrine serves no purpose in itself, but it is indispensable to have one if only to avoid being deceived by false doctrines. ~ Simone Weil

All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma. ~ Kazuo Ishiguro

Don’t be afraid in nature: one must be bold, at the risk of having been deceived and making mistakes. ~ Camille Pissarro

I am in no mood to be deceived any longer by the crafty devil and false character whose greatest pleasure is to take advantage of everyone. ~ Camille Claudel

I have been constantly betrayed and deceived all my life. ~ Taylor Caldwell

Ill fortune never crushed that man whom good fortune deceived not. ~ Ben Jonson

It is better to be deceived by one’s friends than to deceive them. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Liars share with those they deceive the desire not to be deceived. ~ Sissela Bok

Some counterfeits reproduce so very well the truth that it would be a flaw of judgment not to be deceived by them. ~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Sometimes we are less unhappy in being deceived by those we love, than in being undeceived by them. ~ Lord Byron

The fear of being deceived is the vulgar version of the quest for Truth. ~ Emile M. Cioran

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know because they have never deceived us. ~ Samuel Johnson

Faked enthusiasm is worse than bad acting – it is bad acting with the intent to deceive. ~ Bo Bennett

Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves. ~ Eric Hoffer

The best way in the world to deceive believers is to cloak a message in religious language and declare that it conveys some new insight from God. ~ Charles Stanley

What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public. ~ Vilhjalmur Stefansson

When a person cannot deceive himself the chances are against his being able to deceive other people. ~ Mark Twain

There is a cunning which we in England call the turning of the cat in the pan. ~ Francis Bacon “Of Cunning”

The silly when deceived exclaim loudly; the fool complains; the honest man walks away and is silent. [Le bruit est pour le fat, la plainte pour le sot; L'honnete homme trompe s'eloigne et ne dit mot.] ~ Francois de la Noue (“Bras de Fer”), La Coquette Corrigee (I, 3)

Men are always sincere. They change sincerities, that’s all. ~ Tristan Bernard

A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths. ~ Marina Tsvetaeva

Adults find pleasure in deceiving a child. They consider it necessary, but they also enjoy it. The children very quickly figure it out and then practice deception themselves. ~ Elias Canetti

Art is the most beautiful deception of all. And although people try to incorporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest it become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory. ~ Claude Debussy

I’ve never known a musician who regretted being one. Whatever deceptions life may have in store for you, music itself is not going to let you down. ~ Virgil Thomson

All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others. ~ Cyril Connolly

Frank and explicit – this is the right line to take when you wish to conceal your own mind and to confuse the mind of others. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

The only good in pretending is the fun we get out of fooling ourselves that we fool somebody. ~ Booth Tarkington

Pipe-smokers spend so much time cleaning, filling and fooling with their pipes, they don’t have time to get into mischief. ~ Bill Vaughn

A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human. ~ Alan Turing

Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms. ~ Alan Corenk

Jonathan Swift, the 1710 Edition of “A Tale of a Tub” – from Section IX: A Digression Concerning the Original, The Use, and Improvement of Madness in a Commonwealth:

For, if we take an examination of what is generally understood by happiness, as it has respect either to the understanding or the senses, we shall find all its properties and adjuncts will herd under this short definition, that it is a perpetual possession of being well-deceived. And first, with relation to the mind or understanding, ’tis manifest what mighty advantages fiction has over truth; and the reason is just at our elbow, because imagination can build nobler scenes, and produce more wonderful revolutions than fortune or nature will be at expense to furnish. Nor is mankind so much to blame in his choice thus determining him, if we consider that the debate merely lies between things past and things conceived; and so the question is only this – whether things that have place in the imagination, may not as properly be said to exist, as those that are seated in the memory, which may be justly held in the affirmative, and very much to the advantage of the former, since this is acknowledged to be the womb of things, and the other allowed to be no more than the grave. Again, if we take this definition of happiness, and examine it with reference to the senses, it will be acknowledged wonderfully adapt. How fading and insipid do all objects accost us, that are not conveyed in the vehicle of delusion? How shrunk is everything, as it appears in the glass of nature? So that if it were not for the assistance of artificial mediums, false lights, refracted angles, varnish, and tinsel, there would be a mighty level in the felicity and enjoyments of mortal men. If this were seriously considered by the world, as I have a certain reason to suspect it hardly will, men would no longer reckon among their high points of wisdom, the art of exposing weak sides, and publishing infirmities; an employment, in my opinion, neither better nor worse than that of unmasking, which I think has never been allowed fair usage, either in the world or the play-house.

In the proportion that credulity is a more peaceful possession of the mind than curiosity; so far preferable is that wisdom, which converses about the surface, to that pretended philosophy which enters into the depth of things, and then comes gravely back with informations and discoveries, that in the inside they are good for nothing. The two senses, to which all objects first address themselves, are the sight and the touch; these never examine farther than the colour, the shape, the size, and whatever other qualities dwell, or are drawn by art upon the outward of bodies; and then comes reason officiously with tools for cutting, and opening, and mangling, and piercing, offering to demonstrate, that they are not of the same consistence quite through. Now, I take all this to be the last degree of perverting nature; one of whose eternal laws it is, to put her best furniture forward. And therefore, in order to save the charges of all such expensive anatomy for the time to come, I do here think fit to inform the reader, that in such conclusions as these, reason is certainly in the right, and that in most corporeal beings, which have fallen under my cognizance, the outside hath been infinitely preferable to the in; whereof I have been farther convinced from some late experiments. Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her person for the worse. Yesterday I ordered the carcass of a beau to be stripped in my presence, when we were all amazed to find so many unsuspected faults under one suit of clothes. Then I laid open his brain, his heart, and his spleen; but I plainly perceived at every operation, that the farther we proceeded, we found the defects increase upon us in number and bulk; from all which, I justly formed this conclusion to myself; that whatever philosopher or projector can find out an art to sodder and patch up the flaws and imperfections of nature, will deserve much better of mankind, and teach us a more useful science, than that so much in present esteem, of widening and exposing them (like him who held anatomy to be the ultimate end of physic). And he, whose fortunes and dispositions have placed him in a convenient station to enjoy the fruits of this noble art; he that can with Epicurus content his ideas with the films and images that fly-off upon his senses from the superficies of things; such a man truly wise, creams off nature, leaving the sour and the dregs for philosophy and reason to lap up. This is the sublime and refined point of felicity, called, the possession of being well deceived; the serene peaceful state of being a fool among knaves.

But to return to madness. …

I give you bitter pills in sugar coating. The pills are harmless: the poison is in the sugar. ~ Stanislaw Lee