Long Day's Journey Into Night
Lies and Deceit Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
I don't blame you. How could you believe me – when I can't believe myself? I've become such a liar. I never lied about anything once upon a time. Now I have to lie, especially to myself. But how can you understand, when I don't myself. I've never understood anything about it, except that one day long ago I found I could no longer call my soul my own. (2.2.132)
On the broadest level, this conversation sounds like one of those brain-teasers where someone says, "I always lie" – but then, how can they be telling the truth about the lying? Did we just blow your mind?
Anyway, here, we realize that everything Mary says is suspect. Is she manufacturing an excuse, using James and Doctor Hardy, for her drug taking? Is she blaming them for her deceptiveness? Still, in this passage we also see that Mary's denial of her morphine use isn't just something she's manufacturing to tell the guys. On the contrary, she's been struggling with herself to acknowledge that she's back on morphine.
Yes, facts don't mean a thing, do they? What you want to believe, that's the only truth! (4.1.8)
In addition to being kind of funny (James insists that every great Englishman was secretly Irish Catholic), this is another moment where criticism of one character by another doesn't totally make sense.
Obviously, James's Shakespeare argument is an extreme case, but every member of this family says things categorically, as though his or her personal convictions are the only possible truths. Plus, at a fun pop-philosophical level, don't we sometimes believe things to be true because we want them to be true? Food for thought…
And several other times in my life, when I was swimming far out, or lying alone on a beach, I have had the same experience. Became the sun, the hot sand, green seaweed anchored to a rock, swaying in the tide. Like a saint's vision of beatitude. Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. For a second you see – and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning! Then the hand lets the veil fall and you are alone, lost in the fog again, and you stumble on toward nowhere, for no good reason! (4.1.148)
Sure, the whole experience of sitting on a sailboat is beautiful, and we're all in favor of the environment, but let's be honest with what's going on here: Edmund's saying that the best high he ever got was from nature. His out-of-body experiences in nature have done all that the Tyrones want their drugs to do and so much more. Instead of just forgetting the present reality, this high demolishes the entire idea of reality, and takes you one step further outside the box of your life. Literally, Edmund's experience with nature establishes the entire reality of the world as an elaborate lie, a deceit, and an obscured secret that only a lucky few can see. (If this idea is interesting to you, read up a bit on Plato's "allegory of the cave" and Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation. They're big inspirations here).