Self-Denying Truth

A truth that contradicts itself—which undoes itself as soon as it is spoken. Examples: “The religious belief which unites us so securely is in fact a useful falsehood.” “The reason we have such a loving relationship is that you remind me of my mother.” “We have compulsory games at this school in bitter winter weather because it makes you boys philosophical.” “The Lord Chancellor has announced that the office of Lord Chancellor has been abolished.”

It is a matter of acknowledging the limits of what we can say without destroying the truth in the process: you can kill an insight by analysing it, a god by naming him, love by telling it:

Never seek to tell thy love
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears—
Ah, she doth depart.

Soon as she was gone from me
A traveller came by
Silently, invisibly—
Oh, was no deny.

William Blake, Never Seek to Tell thy Love, 1793.S18


« Back to List of Entries
David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

Comment on this entry: