Freedom through Lying

One of the questions we asked about “The Decay of Lying” was: Why did Wilde choose to use the word lying? Vivian found no value in Nature having anything to do with Art, but found that Art’s real aim was to lie. Why was this?

I think this relates to the ongoing conversation we have been having about the aspects of mystery and curiosity that enveloped Wilde. Lying is mysterious. It’s not straight-forward. It piques curiosity. And of course it is fun. 

Lying is something to do. Not only does it prevent boredom, but it contributes to Wilde’s dedication to creation at the hands of the artist. A good lie is personal, it is nurtured and shaped by the teller. And if it is successful, a lie is entertaining. It is the same as a great story.

At first when I read that the aim of Art was lying, it didn’t make sense to me. But, the more I think about what lying really means, the more I see how Wilde loved and appreciated a good lie. My favorite thing about lying that relates to Wilde is that lying can be pointless. Lying for no reason, only for entertainment, even if just for one’s self. That makes me think of “art for art’s sake.” There is no reason, you simply lie to make something, to create. And like art, it can turn out good or bad. 

I think this also relates to “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime.” The reason the party was thrown in the first place was out of Lady Windermere’s boredom, and her boredom contributed her to bringing Mr. Podgers as entertainment. His form of entertainment was lying, and he could do it well. The lie he created was so effective that it was the catalyst for the creation of the rest of the entire story. 

It also made me think of the ideas of freedom that we discussed with the imagery of birds in “The Happy Prince.” What if, since Wilde couldn’t be straightforward about his personal identity most of the time, lying was his form of freedom? As we have speculated about in class, I believe that Wilde wore a mask a lot of the time to prevent having to explain things about himself that he didn’t want to. The truth would, and did, take away his literal freedom. So, lying could’ve been a way for him to have the freedom to construct and live in the world the way he wanted to.

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