“Consider the matter from a scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence.”
Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. page 40-41. Internet
This idea that nature is our creation, and not the other way around, really blew my mind. It makes complete sense on so many levels. I find it particularly relevant to my studies at the moment as I’m taking a class on Sensation and Perception, and have been spending a great deal of time contemplating how we perceive the world around us. How much of it is a construct of our mind, and how much, if any, is a universal reality? While I’d been thinking that one of the most important factors that push us to certain perceptions are our life experiences , I can see how Art appears to be a large, if not the largest, subset of those experiences. This was a fantastic reading!
“One of the chief causes that can be assigned for the curiously commonplace character of most of the literature of our age is undoubtedly the decay of Lying as an art, a science, and a social pleasure”
Vivian starts the discussion by expressing her feelings on how nature is flawed and mundane. She then leads into a discussion where she relates lies to works of art in that the observer can be captivated if done artfully. The “decay of lying” that she refers to in the quote can serve to say that she is seeing less originality and art in her time. Rather, things seem to be ordinary and mundane to Vivian. It is interesting for Vivian to refer to lying as a “social pleasure” because it reveals an uncommon viewpoint of the act of lying. Usually, people view lying as something horrible, but Vivian discusses lying as something that keeps variety in society adds interest as well as makes interesting people.
“The loss that results to literature in general from this false ideal of our time can hardly be overestimated. People have a careless way of talking about a ‘born liar,’ just as they talk about a ‘born poet.’ But in both cases they are wrong. Lying and poetry are arts—arts, as Plato saw, not unconnected with each other—and they require the most careful study, the most disinterested devotion. Indeed, they have their technique, just as the more material arts of painting and sculpture have, their subtle secrets of form and colour, their craft-mysteries, their deliberate artistic methods. As one knows the poet by his fine music, so one can recognize the liar by his rich rhythmic utterance, and in neither case will the casual inspiration of the moment suffice. Here, as elsewhere, practice must precede perfection.”
Wilde Oscar. The Decay of Lying. 1889. http://literature.proquest.com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/searchFulltext.do?id=Z000731336&divLevel=0&area=prose&DurUrl=Yes&forward=textsFT&queryType=findWork.
In Vivan’s article, she is trying to say that it takes skill to be “good” liar and nobody is a natural born to these skills. She describes lying and poetry as art and people start out from the beginning. With time and devotion to these arts along with learning the material/secrets that come along with it, they will become the best liars or poets out there.