Well, I have big news: I finally upgraded my blog to a paid plan. Woohoo!
I now have my own domain, so it’s more like a website now. As far as I know, this just means higher search priority and the ability to earn money off my site, but it’s good to upgrade anyway. After 4 years or so of building this site up for free, it seemed like the next logical step.
So, thank you all for being a part of it, and hopefully I can add some new features soon, maybe build a community.
For now, I thought I’d continue with my analysis about Purple Hyacinth.
Not that I want to review it per sec, but I want to use it as a framing device for one of the ideas it made me think of after reading. I think that analysis is easier to swallow with as story setting.
I found one comment under Purple Hyacinth (PH) that struck me as quite profound.
“This Webtoon tells us that even though that person is telling the truth, the truth is not enough to gain someone’s trust.” (It’s under episode 76, if you want to know).
I got to thinking about PH, and how it really does a good job of making you think about truth.
Haven’t you ever wished you could tell if people were lying to you? But what if you actually could? Would it really make your life easier?
I mean, Lauren can’t exactly convince everyone to believe her, can she? Other people don’t believe that she wouldn’t lie to them, or isn’t just crazy (which is what her boss thinks), or might use her if they did believe her (#plottwist, if the Leader ever finds out about her.)
It’s in this way I relate most to Lauren, and I don’t use the word “relate” to apply to most characters, even ones I like, so I have an especial reason to say I can see myself a little in her determination.
Supposedly, empaths like me are able to tell when people lie. But I tend to be a little naive, being raised in a Christian home where lying was off the table, I tend to take people at their word. Even if I can feel something is off, it tends to be unconscious, until I look back on it.
I think if I were the suspicious type and tried to use my ability actively, I could probably tell if someone was lying. I usually am more comfortable naturally around people who are honest with me, even before I’ve seen them put to the test. I can read what people want very easily, so if their focus is elsewhere why we’re talking, I can feel that they are only pretending to listen to me. That’s something man people are able to do.
Writers especially tend to notice this stuff about others, and their books tend to be more interesting, but also exhausting. If you’ve ever read an author with a style that goes like “The look in their eyes said…” or “Their tone just seemed to say…” you may be reading one with empathetic abilities. Anime often employs such tropes in how it shows emotions.
I can’t say whether that means people in Japan pay more attention to facial expressions and tone, or whether they just exaggerate it in anime because they don’t catch it in real life.
It can be a lot of emotions to handle, but I get very drawn in by writers like that, you feel for the characters.
Lauren’s ability is a bit like that, catching a tone of voice like most people detect sarcasm. But since she doesn’t know the actual truth, she is playing the elimination game. Which makes it far more complex to read about, but also brings up a lot more questions. It makes sense that she became a detective.
I found Lauren’s problem with losing it when she hears lies about the mystery she’s been trying to solve for 10 years to be very relatable.
All of us with a hero complex, whether because of toxic family dynamics, or as a response to trauma, or both, would find it maddening to know someone is lying, but not be able to get the truth out of them. Then to be stopped by others from even trying.
Lauren has massive survivor’s guilt because she knew something was off, the day the tragedy happened, but she couldn’t do anything about it. Regular survivor’s guilt is bad enough, even when you’re aware it’s irrational, but imagine if you did know, but couldn’t do anything with that knowledge.
The ability to detect lies sounds God-like, but it makes her no more able to know the actual truth. Turns out people can still deceive you without lying, by just selectively telling the truth.
It’s intriguing, Christians believe that truth is essential, and powerful. The word says “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
But does the truth set Lauren free?
Thanks to Kieren and Sandman, she learns the truth about the mole in her district, about her parents, and herself, in a way. She learns she is a hypocrite.
In one telling scene, she admits to Kieren that knowing the truth about the mole makes her not even care that much that he died anymore. In a way, Lauren is very selective in her compassion and seeing value in human life. She claims she wouldn’t hesitate to kill a murderer like the PH, or any other assassin, and she seems to have no pity for them.
And why should she?
Why should any of us?
Well, Lauren can’t afford to pity them because her whole life is about stopping htem and avenging her friend. And perhaps, alleviating her own guilt.
Learning the truth presents a challenge for her, if she is not in the position she thought, if the Phantom Scythe wasn’t what she thought, if the people around her aren’t what she thought… then can she keep living her life this way?
It’s too early to tell what the story will do with it, but for me, it’s intriguing enough that it even comes up.
I mean, the truth really upsets Lauren every time she learns it, for someone who pursues it so avidly, it’s rarely happy or easier for her. And she tends to ignore the truths that might soften the blow, like that Kieren is capable of actual remorse or honor.
Still, she chooses to tell the truth.
It all got me thinking about what is the value of truth?
I mean, when Will finds out the truth about his brother, it doesn’t make him happier.
I think most of us have the mistaken idea that knowing the truth will always make us happier or satisfied.
When C. S. Lewis became convinced of the truth of Christianity, he wrote in Surprised by Joy that he was perhaps “the most reluctant convert” in his time and country, if I remember right. He was not happy, he though it would mean a lot of unpleasant work.
To be sure, there are many unpleasant things in Christianity. If you’ve never head a Christian say as much, they are faking it.
Any genuine religion, that even claims to be the truth, will admit it has unpleasant parts. Islamists don’t all imagine that the extreme parts of their creed are supposed to be fun, that is the point.
It’s stuff like New Age, that claims to be all about serenity and peace and that crap. Nothing that is real is always pleasant.
You might argue, if you are a philosopher, that pleasure is real and always pleasant.
But that is not strictly true is it? Guilty pleasures are addictive, but there is an unpleasantness in it, isn’t there? Some junkies hate the drug or alcohol even as they consume it and get rush, I have been addicted to the much less harmful coffee and even I had moments of hating that I needed it.
One of the reasons I believe in the doctrine of hell is because there must be things I do not like about any Real fact of life. No one gets life to suit their fancy.
And in ,fact, when we talk about the truth making us free, do we always mean the truth is pleasant? I don’t know where that idea came from.
Probably, in the church at least, because Jesus is the truth, and knowing Jesus will certainly make you happier. That is true…but it will not necessarily make you happier immediately. Some people, like me, get a rush of joy when they first become saved, others, like my sister, don’t. And like Lewis too, incidentally.
It really has nothing to do with how you convert. People who convert in the middle of an evangelical movement sometimes feel nothing, while I read a story of a man who had an intellectual based conversion, and immediately felt peace. God seems to care more for what the individual needs than the setting and method of conversion.
Suppose you feel ill and think it is a minor thing, and then find out it was cancer. Did the truth make you happier?
No, but if that truth means you seek treatment before it is too late, and recover, the truth did indeed set you free. Ignorance is not bliss for people who actually want to improve. It is only bliss for people who want to stay the same. Which is, unfortunately, a lot of people.
What interests me in PH is that the truth may make Lauren unhappy, but for all I can see, it is setting her free, little by little. She will only be free of guilt once she knows the truth, and free of anger.
I rather think, in cases like hers, the “not knowing” it what causes bitterness, and if she knew what happened, she would not be bitter anymore.
AS evidenced in the most recent episode, where we learn she once saved the life of someone she didn’t like who had previously lied to her, and possibly helped kill her friend and family. Lauren may hate the guy, but she hates mostly out of frustration, not true malice or vengeance.
To me, it made her a more likable character to see that difference, and it reminds me more of how I deal with truth.
Honestly, I resented my dad and loathed him for years when I was confused about what was right and what was wrong in our house. But the mores I realize the truth was it was mostly him the whole time, I don’t hate him.
I don’t like him, but I have no malice really.
Some of you may have experience this too, does’t most of our hatred happen because we doubt ourselves and feel guilty? Only a small percentage of it is truly about the other person’s actions. In fact, honestly, if we hated people more what what they did being wrong than for our own insecurities about it, we might be better people.
The Word says God hates wickedness, and David said in Psalms 139 that he hated God’s enemies with “perfect hatred”, and he’s not talking about hating because they did bad things to him.
This does not mean we are supposed to hate nonbelievers, David is talking about hating evil and that people do evil, and not pitying that they must be stopped.
This sort of ties into what I said earlier about Lauren not pitying assassins, yet it’s very easy for us as the readers to pity Kieren, being privy to more of his life. And he himself display more pity, oddly enough, than Lauren does. He knows what it’s like to be chewed up and spit out by society or the people around you.
Lauren may not realize she’s had rather a fortunate life, from status standpoint,and so doesn’t know how people are tempted by desperation to do terrible things.
I say “tempted,” most people say “driven.” But I don’t believe desperation can truly force someone to do do something they know they shouldn’t do, and it is not an excuse. It makes them more sympathetic, perhaps not truly evil, but many a person who starts off by being desperate never stops doing evil, and in the end, does it because they want to. That’s why it’s a poor excuse, and a dangerous one, to do anything.
But, if the truth is, Lauren has done some shady things out of her desperation to find answers, then the truth is, she is also not above falling into that trap. And do it justice, the story has her pay for that sorely.
Just as we all will, sooner or later, if we take that route.
The relationship of truth to desperation is probably too complex for me to get into at the tail end of a post, but suffice it to say for now that in my studies, the truth seems to be the only thing that ever puts an end to desperation. One way or another. Good or bad.
Now, how does all this affect us?
It’s an interesting story, and lesson, but does it matter in everyday life?
I’d say of course it does.
Something as small as a phone call can turn on whether you choose the truth or the lie. We lie for convenience. I tend to not lie, but I do make excuses that are only part of the reason I don’t want to do something.
I’ve had people tell me I was BS-ing them when I was being completely serious, just because it is what they would have been doing if they were the one saying it, I imagine.
So, truth is an unavoidable part of our day to day interactions and decisions, as you all are well aware, and I think PH points out something quite profound in showing that even a small lie has the power to throw everything off. We may not always be able to trace from the effect back to the cause, but it’s there. It could be possible if we had all the facts to prove that lying really only complicates our lives further.
Actually, the old VeggieTales about “The Fib from Outer Space” comes to mind here. But kids’ lies are at least easy to figure out, adults are often not.
Still, like Lauren, I can be frustrated by knowing that just because I point out to you readers the benefits of honesty, doesn’t mean you’ll listen or walk away from this post with anything changed in your lives. I may just be writing this to myself.
I’m not really blaming you all though, I don’t usually do what random people on the internet tell me, why would I expect any different?
Why do we blog then? Why do we feel the need to put our ideas out there as truth, hoping that someone somewhere will like it?
We humans can’t help it. Sharing truth is the most basic service we render each other, and heroes and villains alike perform it. Chesterton wrote that “to preach anything is to give it away.” To have the faint hope, in other words, that it will better the person you preach it to.
A truly evil man is the one who no longer preaches, is just a pure tyrant who does whatever they will and doesn’t bother to give a reason.
One, who the same author says, “believes in himself.”
Not wanting to pursue truth is really becoming inhuman. Which is why Lewis calls the indoctrination of the youth against truth “the abolition of man.”
But that’s all a story for another time. For now, it’s just nice to get a story that reintroduces us to the need for truth. Whether I will always enjoy the story or not, I am always glad to be redirected to what matters.
And I guess that’s what I hope for this blog too, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.