(Post title courtesy of one G. Costanza)
This is a fascinating article… In my search for information about marathon running, I came across this New Yorker story about Kip Litton (magnificently written by Mark Singer), a Michigan dentist who apparently cheated his way to the top of several 26.2 mile runs. The Marathon details are irrelevant; it’s a bewildering story about what great lengths some people will go to in order to LIE about themselves and their accomplishments. Unreal.
I had a childhood friend that I cared for a great deal, one with whom I had to part ways years ago after I simply couldn’t tolerate any more of his unbelievably elaborate (yet totally transparent) bullshit stories. It was a pathological sickness, to be sure, and even when he was busted numerous times (embarrassingly doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it) by simple connect-the-dots logic, he still couldn’t stop himself. It was hard to relinquish that friendship, really, because he was otherwise such a decent person and a good friend. Like Kip Litton, he couldn’t grasp the concept that you DON’T have to be absolutely fucking top-of-the-line phenomenal in order to be pretty gosh-darn great.
In creating his classic film Rashomon, legendary director Akira Kurosawa did not necessarily set out to thematically explore the subjectivity of truth, but rather bring the notion of fanatical self-delusion to the forefront. In his tale — a crime drama set in Feudal Japan — a roadside bandit played by Toshiro Mifune rapes a woman and kills her samurai husband, with a local woodcutter witness to the entire event. However, each of the four participants’ story differs wildly from the other (the dead samurai’s story is told via medium). The “true” story is elusive, and although some sort of sense and closure is made, everyone is exposed to be driven only by their own self-interests. Their own self-aggrandizement. Their own lies.
In reading Singer’s attempt to find some semblance of truth in Litton’s story, self-interest is still the biggest conclusion. Litton is evasive, mealy-mouthed, and detached. His stories change constantly, become Rube Goldbergian in their elaborations, and ultimately never for a second believable. But he sticks to the bullshit, no matter what. Perhaps he did run sub-3-hour marathons. But even if he didn’t — and I don’t believe he did by any means — even if he ran a four hour marathon, or five, or six, is that not enough accomplishment on its own? How much of your own honor are you willing to obliterate in order to gain exponentially larger (and monumentally false) glory and fame?
O quam cito transit gloria mundi… thus fades the glory of Kip Litton’s world.