Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M: Mendacity (A-Z Blog Challenge: Evocative words)


What a word! Most dictionaries define it simply as untruthfulness, but the connotations are stronger than that. This is no mere fib we're talking about, no white lie, no innocuous sin of omission. This is big, powerful and persuasive lying. Audacious lies that can break a person on the soul-level. Lies with evil intent.

Sheer mendacity.

Put this word with its common bed-mate and it's even worse. Sheer mendacity. Utter, unmitigated, unadulterated.

Or maybe it's sheer in the sense of steep and abrupt. Sheer like the drop from a cliff.

Or sheer as in transparent. Mendacity that doesn't even try to hide behind a screen. Entirely visible. Just pushing and pushing and seeing if anyone will step up and call it what it is.

Mendacity is a kind of lying that requires a real commitment. It's not for the shy or weak-willed. It takes a big personality.

That what makes the word work so well in the scene above. Tennessee Williams, writer extraordinaire of scenery-chewing emotionally harrowing speeches for his characters, loved the word, most famously used here in Cat on Hot Tin Roof.

His are not works of quiet emotion or subtlety. No, the pain is unbearable, the protest over the top.  The emotions are all at full volume. A woman can't be just upset in a play by Tennessee Williams. No, she's distraught. A man is not merely saddened, but devastated.

It's not melodrama. The anguish is quite real and honestly felt. But it is assuredly dramatic.

The lies are big, too. Big enough to hide a wealth of other dark emotions inside. Mendacious.

Thank you, Tennessee Williams, wordsmith extraordinaire.
This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.

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