Quote: On truth

“At some point I began to value ‘truth,’ that elusive thing, more as I grew older—not only story. I recall lying on a bed, looking at a manuscript on the floor as I reached to turn pages, and thinking to myself, I must mean everything I say, every word, and feeling it as a profound moment in my writing life. When my son was little he went to a convent school for the first year. They’re very good schools, and the public schools were very bad where we lived, around Columbia University. One day when I went to get Gabe, who was five or six, I heard a woman talking to her child. She was a nice woman, I’m sure. She was talking to her eight- or nine-year-old child on the way home up the slope of the hill, and she was saying, ‘When it’s this time of year’—it was autumn—’I think of the leaves in New England, and I think how beautiful they are.’ And I thought, That’s false what she said. I could hear the falsity. She wanted to make her child feel that she was an appreciator of beauty so the child would appreciate the beauty of the leaves turning. I thought, Why doesn’t she really talk to her? I mean, it’s obvious that she had good intentions, but also I realized that good intentions are part of the whole problem. You know? Even in virtuous people, falseness can corrupt their virtue.” — Paula Fox in The Paris Review

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