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On secrecy...

On secrecy...

First published in GHT on 27/12 1938

Some medicine bottles are made in such a way that their contents fall drop by drop into the glass. The arrangement is, of course, made so that the patient does not ingest more of the strong drug than is useful for him. It has been adopted on many other occasions.

Sometimes one gets the impression that the truth is regarded as a very dangerous poison, which, if it is to be communicated to the public, must be administered by dropping a bottle.

A small drop dangles on the tip of the glass stopper, collects and, splash, falls into a large glass half-filled with water. The dilution is necessary. Without it, the drop would go unharvested. The water is therefore kept in readiness.

All sorts of common sayings and self-evident commonplaces are used to dilute the drop of actual enlightenment, which is considered a fair dose for the dear public.

If you think about it, this secrecy is practised in all aspects of life. We play hide and seek with each other. Schoolgirls boost their self-esteem by making up a secret, which they share with their best friend. Businessmen guard their letters and books lest their competitors learn of their transactions, foreign ministers walk around with sealed lips.

And basically we play hide and seek with each other! ourselves too. Nobody dares to be honest with themselves. No one dares to show himself, as honest as he is. From the dropper bottle of self-knowledge, we let the bitter drug drip with great care down into lots of the sugar coating that our self-esteem provides.

So this clutter extends from the innermost sphere of our personality out to the periphery of the most impersonal. We put up signs and facades, designed to mislead. Those with enough power to do so build Potemkin villages and Potemkin forests.

It's all a bit neater around us that way. If we did not go about disguised, each one costumed and masked for the impression he wishes to make on the others, we might be frightened by each other's physiognomies. It is self-preservation that drives us to dress up for each other and for ourselves.

When it comes to external things, the need to smuggle should be less pronounced. It is a worldly thing how it is with such things. Sometimes it is foolish to be too secretive. In moderation lies strength. A certain amount of secrecy is tolerated. When this quantum is exceeded, the public becomes suspicious. It smells something sick behind the caution. Aha, here is something that must be hidden. Things are so bad that they don't dare say anything at all. I can't believe it's like this.

This is possible if you turn the stopper in the bottle so that nothing drips into the glass.

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