Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Your Dirty Little Secret / Your Dirty Little Lie

The New York Times > Health > Mental Health & Behavior > The Secret Lives of Just About Everybody

The ability to hold a secret is fundamental to healthy social development.... "In a very deep sense, you don't have a self unless you have a secret, and we all have moments throughout our lives when we feel we're losing ourselves in our social group, or work or marriage, and it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart," said Dr. Daniel M. Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard.
I found this article interesting. Anyone care to comment or debate the benefits of keeping up a good lie?

Speaking of lies, one of the highlights of my winter break was watching Mike Nichols' Closer with my closest mate Christmas night. The script was something between Mamet and haiku; how did screenwriter Patrick Marber cram so many wonderful shards of broken poetry between just four characters? Adult themes + adult sexuality--a real treat for adults on this continent.

And speaking of continents, Marber seemed to hit the differences between Europeans and Americans when it comes to sex, fucking, and love right on the head. (Yeah, that sentence was intentionally convoluted.) Clive Owen has been amazing in everything I've seen him in, especially as Max in Bent. Nice to hear Damien Rice in the movies, but that one song was played way too many times.

The strong women who use the truth to keep their lovers at a distance + the broken men who will destroy everyone--including themselves--with the lies they tell. Next on Oprah. (As if.)

If anyone is interested in discussing this film further, please comment. I'd love to keep talking about it.


  1. Here is a link to David Reider's entry "Closer, or the Temporality of Honesty": http://grammalab.typepad.com/grammalab/2005/01/closer.html

    David focuses on the time-lapse/truth-lapse dichotomy.

    Watching the film, it's easy to agree with his sister's comment that the characters were "really honest" even though you have these huge chunks of missing time in which they lived out their lies. Perhaps this is where the closeness of the film exists--the eternal closeness of the (brutally honest) present. Despite the other variations of closeness (sex, fucking, love), you (as well as the characters) are always kept at arm's length.

    Even the luscious and luxurious fabric of the costumes and set designs begged to be approached, to be touched, yet remained out of reach. Anna's photography--larger-than-life close-ups of individuals--was another indicator of distance; even Alice (Natalie Portman) didn't look like she belonged next the photograph of herself.

    For me, the scene that summed up the distance between two people was Anna (Julia Roberts) and Larry (Clive Owen) in bed together at the end of the film. Proximity loses all meaning.

  2. i would love to discuss the film with you, but I have not seen it yet. so that discussion will have to wait until i get to it. however, be forewarned, i have many many films to in my netflix queue and the list just keeps getting longer and longer.

    about secret lives, however i think i can contribute my $.02. the idea of leading a secret life (and i would not always call it/them "[a] lie(s)" per se, just parts of my life that i do not share with everyone . . .more like having clear boundaries) has become an idea with which i have become increasingly more comfortable. i think that Dr.Wegner has a good point when he says "...it feels good to grab for a secret, or some subterfuge, to reassert our identity as somebody apart."

    however, i think that secret lives are best led honestly and ethically. ironically, i think the secret aspects of our lives can work out better if one is honest with oneself about what one is doing and, if it applies, with whom he or she is doing it with. the secret for me would depend not so much on "keeping up a good lie," but on not telling certain people about certain aspects of my life...usu. people not directly involved (e.g. selective friends and family, co-workers, etc). or as my friend, ralpjalpha, puts it "i believe in a certain level of honest and openness, but when talking/sharing begins to mitigate everything that one holds personally, then i think its time to hold onto a few private moments of one's own."

  3. Interesting ideas, Jola. As always. Be sure to post a follow-up once you're able to get to the cinema to see the film.

    After watching KINSEY over the weekend, I was thinking more about this truth/secret/lie aspect of our lives, especially in regards to sex/sexuality/fucking/love/etc. Perhaps there was (a la David's remarks) some time-lapse between the actual events they portrayed, but I was struck by Kinsey confessing his homosexual affair with his student to his wife in the immediate following scene. His reason: "I've heard so many other people's secrets, I didn't want to keep any of my own."

    At what point are secrets kept to protect an individual? At what point are they kept to protect society? Why do so many of our secrets deal with our sex lives? Any thoughts?