Patrick Higgins: Would you say you are a liar?
The Devil: Yes. But I’m only saying that to be honest.
PH: Are you a compulsive liar?
TD: In a sense. I lie compulsively as a choice. My whole being is constructed from compulsion and spontaneity, it’s all eating meals where I can. Ingesting what will give me a new feeling. Lying just plays into that. But I don’t lie to deceive.
PH: Doesn’t lying require deception by necessity?
TD: Yes, but lying can be a vehicle for things other than deception. Sometimes one deception is used to make a much bigger point. I am never more sincere than when I am lying, because when I am lying I’m lying at something that deserves to be lied to. It’s a puzzle: if you can figure out what the deception is, it will reveal more of my honesty underneath.
PH: Would you say you’ve been lying regularly throughout these interviews?
D: When you agree with what I say, that’s when you should think twice.
PH: But isn’t that a little bit hypocritical? You’ve said before you have a great disdain for people who purposely conceal their intentions behind this kind of ambiguity.
TD: Well, perhaps it’s a case of do as I say not as I do. I would also like to point out that there’s a significant difference between the claim that that everything is relative and the claim that everything can be doubted. Truth can be doubted and still be true, or perhaps it’s true in a different way than we realized. Doubt is incredibly important in all things, so there can be a kind of lying that utilizes that necessity and that power. Any sort of report, any kind of statement is, to some degree, a lie because it is never the event itself.
PH: Nora Ephron, in an interview with Studs Terkel, said regarding journalism that “all writing is about selecting what you want to use and once you choose what you want to select you’re not being objective.”
TD: Yes, exactly.
PH: It’s also a bit of a predicament though, because, in that interview she continues by saying that she struggled with the feeling that portraying the feminist movement truthfully was going to do it more harm than good.
TD: Well, yes, because progress is ugly. It’s unorganized. It’s not this idealized thing that rides in on a white horse in bright shining armor. It’s a weird thing where change simultaneously requires an incredible cynicism because – as I said – you need to doubt everything to avoid being controlled, but you also need to have a bit of Don Quixote idealism about you. You need to doubt facts and believe things that aren’t true to get the right mix that allows you to live effectively and purposefully.
PH: I think there’s a big difference between facts and truth, in that the experience of personal truth, ideological truth, can exist and remain powerful even if it runs in the face of facts.
TD: Well belief is certainly just as powerful as fact. It doesn’t matter how things actually are if you can’t see or comprehend that reality, because those facts aren’t going to determine your actions.
PH: Which can be a real problem when you have people manufacturing a truth that instills fear.
TD: Right. It can be good or bad. Again, the most healthy Truths, I think, are those that can maintain a heavy level of doubt while acknowledging facts. Being in the process of seeking what works. It’s sort of a spiritual science.
PH: It’s kind of a Feyerabendian method of psychology.
TD: Yeah, kind of like that.
PH: Of course you run the risk of blinding yourself with doubt and falling into the same trap.
TD: Of course. The risk is there. There’s always risk in anything.
PH: Do you think there’s any way to mitigate that risk?
TD: Well because this is structured around the individual, the personal, its hard to concoct a universal panacea for ideological traps. Probably the best you can do is simply try and insure that you have people around you that are capable of bulwarking yourself against dangerous shifts. Have people who can speak to you reasonably, fight back if you become too certain of an ideology, support you if you’re too unsure of yourself. It’s unfortunate that the only solution I know is external, because that means you have less control of it, but human nature was never constructed around the individual being in complete control of themselves anyway.
PH: So really its about constructing whatever web of facts and lies works for you?
TD: Yes, preferably at little or no cost to anyone else. It’s not about rejecting real facts, or reading lies, its about asking yourself what information you yourself need to live on. If some factual information does not effectively encourage your way of living, you can acknowledge that it is a fact, but not feel obliged to carry it into your worldview.
PH: But can’t that still be dangerous? If I doubt the facts that build the foundations that other people live upon, even if I only do so to provide a positive ideology for myself, won’t I damage other people’s lives by the living of my own life?
TD: Yes, you will, but that will happen no matter what. It’s important to remember that this works in conjunction with other things I’ve talked about. You need to establish your own damage control through the people around you, and you should always remember that if the methodology of this selective process works for you then it can work for other people too. So when you move into situations where you’re working with other people you need to curb some of those selections and start considering ignored facts. The more people involved in this process the more you need to cut away the necessary self-imposed illusion.
PH: In these collective situations is there still an illusion being maintained?
TD: Certainly, they’re just collective. I mean, what is mass media but a collective dream cultivated by groups?
PH: But what about in the reality of decision making?
TD: Well then the dream just gets put onto the supposed reality of the world. The systems we establish, whether they give us libraries, renovate cities, or illegitimately incarcerate thousands, they’re just dreams. Dreams put into motion by groups with enough power to enact their view of the world on our reality.
PH: So their dream can be our nightmare.
TD: If we don’t like it, which we usually don’t. And by “we” I mean almost everyone outside of that group. So either we need to find new dreamers to speak for us, or we need to stop having small groups speak for all of us.
PH: Do you think either possibility would work?
TD: The latter could work, but only in the face of real crisis or incredible technological advancement. People would make decisions as a group like that only because they were cut off from everyone else or if there was no need to get anything from outside of the group. Either its a city-state by necessity, or by automation.
PH: Which you’ve already established has its own problems. What about the first possibility, getting new dreamers?
TD: Certainly that’s still possible, but it is becoming more difficult. I blame that in part because of the rise of media that can project the dominant dream, it makes it harder to think up anything new. Plus, the people constructing this dream-media are also profiting off of it, so its self-feeding.
PH: What would your dream be if you could enact it?
TD: Lots of drugs. Lots of sex. Lots of art. Enough science to keep it interesting. Arranged outlets for concentrated violence at nobody’s expense. A reduction in the human population. Domesticated bears for pets. A lovely sort of chaos.