adrian healey

‘My first meeting with you only confirmed what I first suspected. You are a fraud, a charlatan and a shyster. My favourite kind of person, in fact.’

'What makes you so sure?’

'I am a student of language, Mr Healey. You write with fluency and conviction, you talk with authority and control. A complex idea here, an abstract proposition there, you juggle with them, play with them, seduce them. There is no movement from doubt to comprehension, no breaking down, no questioning, no excitement. You try to persuade others, never yourself. You recognise patterns, but you rearrange them where you should analyse them. In short, you do not think. You have never thought. You have never said to me anything that you believe to be true, only things which sound true and perhaps even ought to be true: things that, for the moment, are in character with whatever persona you have adopted for the afternoon. You cheat, you short-cut, you lie. It’s too wonderful.’

'With respect, Professor…’

'Pigswill! You don’t respect me. You fear me, are irritated by me, envy me… you everything me, but you do not respect me. And why should you? I am hardly respectable.’

'What I mean is, am I so different from anyone else? Doesn’t everyone think the way I think? Doesn’t everyone just rearrange patterns? Ideas can’t be created or destroyed, surely.’

'Yes!’ Trefusis clapped his hands with delight. 'Yes, yes, yes! But who else knows that they are doing that and nothing else? You know, you have always known. That is why you are a liar. Others try their best, when they speak they mean it. You never mean it. You extend this duplicity to your morals. You use and misuse people and ideas because you do not believe they exist. Just patterns for you to play with. You’re a hound of hell and you know it.’

Stephen Fry, The Liar