discontent #6. Summer 1998





Letter Between Editors

A Factsheet 5 article states that to insure success, a ‘zine must have a distinct "voice" in order to establish for itself a "niche" so that readers and publishers are clear about the ‘zine’s direction. I state now: discontent is a forum for the glorification of the written word. I am so concerned about the matter that I am guilty of impromptu assaults in its name. Recently I was outraged by a waitress who refused to write down seven orders for eggs benedict or florentine with sides of either fries or salad with choice of six dressings. By magical laws of probability she happened to get two orders right, but I took it upon myself to redistribute everyone’s contributions to the bill so she got a .07% tip. Happily, there are plenty of lovers of lexiphany, as demonstrated by this literary exercise sent to a dear friend and fellow editor (of the extroverted auger/anvil). Questions in bold, response in plain type.

Learning to Lie: Something I Need to Work On. Pt. 1


The woman put her hands over her daughter’s ears beneath the snowsuit hood beneath the orangutan cap beneath the thin braids. The place smelled like Lysol or liquor and was too loud. Also they hadn’t remembered to take a number from the contessa-shaped dispenser in the foyer. By the time they reached the stage the Coco-plums were gone. And I’d promised them autographs!

Please answer these as Staff Reader:
a) What (if anything) is wrong with this elaborate lie?

The distinct elements of this lie are too disparate. More context would help the verisimilitude of the lie. What sort of place is this? While the smaller details are acceptable, the larger context is too weird to be believed. And autographs to whom? (Incidentally, the attempt in the final sentence to establish an "I was there" authenticity falls short because the shift from 3rd to 1st person is too abrupt.)

b) What parts almost had you fooled?

While the orangutan cap charms me, I must confess I am led to doubt its authenticity due to its apparent position above the snowsuit hood and below the thin braids. "Lysol or liquor" is a good detail, however, if one must have details (see answer to "d" below).

c) Can you tell what’s based on fact and what is fancy?

Sort of. It is hard to sever my knowledge of The Liar from my perception of The Lie. But if pressed, I would say that the autographing was never a reality--its context is so unestablished that it falls flat.

d) How would you improve this segment? OR What makes a good lie work?

There are two schools of thought on this ancient topic. In the manner of Antoine Piquenit we can say that the strongest lie is the lie constructed of a dazzling succession of details, a fabric so tightly woven that the idea of doubt is so overwhelming as to not even occur. Or we can say, as Arvid Simmpler says, the best lie is the simple lie, with fewer details for the unbeliever to attack (and for the liar to remember).

Our thoughts fly to the latter.