Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,
Last week at the Pub Quiz I asked a question about Senator Al Franken’s book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Al Franken has explained in several of his 200 recent interviews for his new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, that lying makes him particularly incensed and outraged. Franken has talked about how it was his questioning the veracity of his former colleague and friend Jeff Sessions that led to Sessions perjuring himself about his various unreported meetings with Russian officials. The Russians seem to be tripping up everyone in the president’s cabinet, as if they were all marks, eager to be conned by expert con artists. The fragile “take” from this con, its purpose and prize, if you will, would be the ideals that undergird American democracy.
There is one con artist who is even more sinister than Vladimir Putin, and who lies much more than the stars of Franken’s “Liars” book, whom Franken has in retrospect since called “quaint.”
I am thinking of a liar who lies habitually, automatically. He offers small lies and large, watching to see how his audiences respond, adjusting the tenor and scope of his lies accordingly.
Sometimes he lies incidentally, practicing his lies the way that one of us might practice a second language. He practices his lying for larger cons, for longer cons, for cons with higher stakes.
He lies ruthlessly in order to hurt others, to maim them. He lies to undercut their character, to ridicule their dreams. He shows no mercy.
People spend a lot of time responding to his lies.
He lies to beguile, leaving willful misimpressions with the recipients of his lies. Such lies often comfort the gullible, making them eager for the security provided by the subsequent lies. Sometimes he makes us laugh at his lies. Some even cheer. The need for illusion is deep.
Sometimes he lies to men and women the same, hoping for the same result. Sometimes he lies to men and women differently, hoping for differentiated results. He is often successful.
If his followers catch on, they usually do so too late. His first lie kills their faith in the truth. His second lie kills their hope. He is known to be the master of the second death.
He contradicts shared truths, undermining our core beliefs. He uses lies to separate us into groups. He finds us new enemies. He teaches us not to trust. According to the plan, we soon don’t know what to believe. He bonds uncertainly to fear; the eventual result is despair.
Charismatic people attract his special attention; he tells them his best lies. Often he can convince such people to lie for him while he stands back, watching them remotely, and with a slight smile. Sometimes people don’t even know that they are doing his work.
These days, he is our consummate liar, our expert liar, our progenitive liar. He is a producer of lies, a director of lies, a trailblazer of lies, a father of lies.
He is called many names. As you have guessed by now, most people know him as Satan.
In addition to topics raised above, tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on the following: Jason Alexander, plural nouns, new records, names in the news, first class treats, ungulates, Gene Wilder, unusual behaviors, big rewards, the recipients of famous letters, the question of currency, female heroes and villains, nautical architecture, really old things, people with their own planets, the control over recent rains, old ladies named Sarah, flutes, moisteners, time-travel, plots redux, favorite dances, people born in the 1970s, Jason and Joshua, that which survives to the present, second place, lovely directives, rules for hosts, cocktails, unusual reluctance, fathers, maroon thieves, the meddling French, border lands, retreads, 1969, resolutions, tenths, evolution, and Shakespeare.
Some prefer to watch TV rather than hang with friends. Some can even do both. Make your choice, and we will see you this evening.
Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:
- Newspaper Headlines. In addition to The U.S., name one of the two other countries that do not participate in the Paris Climate Change Accords.
- Bachelorettes. The thirteenth and current season of The Bachelorette features Rachel Lindsay, a 32-year-old professional from Dallas, Texas. What is her occupation?
- Pop Culture – Music. Last week the re-issue of what 50-year-old album sold 75,000 total copies to reenter the Billboard 200 at number three?
P.S. Thursday is Poetry Night in Davis. Please join us at the Natsoulas Gallery for poetry by Wendy Williams and Jen Vernon. We start at 8 PM.
Wendy Patrice Williams is a writer, educator, and poet. Williams is the author of two chapbooks, Some New Forgetting and Bayley House Bard, and, in 2016, an actual “first poetry book with a spine”: In Chaparral: Life on the Georgetown Divide (Cold River Press).
Jenifer Rae Vernon’s first book of poetry Rock Candy was published by West End Press in 2009. Rock Candy received the Tillie Olsen Award as the best book of creative writing that insightfully represents working class life and culture from the Working Class Studies Association, SUNY, Stony Brook, in June of 2010.