It may be the perfect American consumer product, and it’s not a bad symbol of the worship of the confidence man that’s long been part of our marketplace and political playing field. It’s called Liquid Trust, or, "trust in a bottle."
Here’s how the company that sells it (Vero Labs) says it works. I’m telling the spray-free truth here. They really say:
Unleash the power of Liquid Trust and instantly build relationships that were never possible before! It happens in just 3 simple steps:
1. Apply Liquid Trust to yourself in the morning while getting dressed, before important meetings during the day or in the evening before going out to socialize.
2. Everyone you encounter will immediately and unconsciously detect the pure human Oxytocin in Liquid Trust that you are wearing.
3. Without realizing why, the people around you have a strong feeling of trust. They can’t explain it, but you know that Liquid Trust is doing its magic!
Hot damn! And it’s not snake oil. No less a respected journal than Scientific American explains a recent study that confirms that the spray’s active ingredient, the hormone oxytocin, appears to work unconsciously to create trust in the person smelling of it. The study’s authors rather guiltily confessed that the discovery "could be misused."
Tennessee Williams is hopping on a hot tin roof. It was William’s character, Big Daddy Pollitt, who said, "There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity…You can smell it. It smells like death." Not any more.
Disguising the odor of mendacity is a quintessential American pursuit. Salespeople learn it. Ad people learn it. Politicians learn it. Preachers learn it. "In God We Trust," wink, wink. And to think, this might no longer be a matter of faith. A little spritz of oxytocin behind the ears, and God could quit worrying about who believed and who didn’t.
It’s not like humans haven’t always deceived and always been wary of deceit. But, this is the era of the noble lie, after all. Rewards, political and economic, are handed out to those who do it best. The truth is just another word for naivety.
Emerson told us to pierce our rotten diction and turn toward the truth, which he confessed had a certain "lubricity" that lets it "slip through our fingers when we clutch hardest."
Yes, the truth is elusive, though not quite as elusive as yesterday’s deconstructionists worried. But it’s certainly not absolute, either, like William J. Bennett and other authoritarians tell us. They believe the truth is simply what they say it is. (What’s that odor?)
Doesn’t Easter Sunday seem like a good spring day to consider a resurrection movement of the truth?
The last thing we need is oxytocin spray to hide the liars. We need some kind of truth spray, like those paint bombs tellers drop in bank robbers’ bags. A guy like Bernard L. Madoff would wind up looking like a Paul Klee painting.
It doesn’t seem like the truth would be too much to ask for, really. It’s truth that floods the veins of democracy, pumped by trust. When truth and trust become spray-on consumer products, democracy’s arteries are sure to harden.
So, pundits, quit rewarding liars just because they are skilled at getting away with it. You can skip the paint bombs, if you want. But the next time some Right Wing clown comes on your show and blames President Obama for the recession, or says Obama’s going to take away everyone’s guns, or lead a socialist revolution, or kill Christmas, rise up and pierce the rotten diction.
And, to be careful, look out for guests wearing Liquid Trust. Maybe gas masks for talking heads just to make sure? You’d save a lot on makeup.