Münchhausen by Proxy

In a splendid manor house at Bodenwerder, two aged men relaxed over a pitcher of warm ale, relishing their retirement.

“Well, Hieronymous my friend, we’ve certainly earned the right to do something with our time,” said Gottfried, “what shall we do?  Maybe some traveling?”

Hieronymous slowly sipped from his mug and with a twinkle in his eye turned to his old comrade and said rather blandly, “I should think I’d like to return to Ceylon… yes, I think I’d like that, to see how my old friend Max is doing… he was the Governor’s brother, you know.”

Gottfried, astonished at his friend’s casual remark, shouted, “When on earth did you visit Ceylon?”

“Gottfried,” replied Hieronymous, “have I never told you of the time I was attacked by the lion there, only to be saved from death by a 40’ crocodile?  Well then!  So there I was…”

When Baron Hieronymous Münchhausen died on February 22, 1797, it was the end of a teller of tall tales, but not of a liar.  The Baron in his lifetime was actually deeply hurt by the unauthorized publication of his stories, meant merely for amusement, as his name became synonymous with “Liar.”  His actual tales of heroism and intrigue today garner little attention.  It’s the lies we crave, for they tell us what we want to hear, even when we know we are being lied to.

Mark Twain remarked that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.  Fortunately, most of the better liars have been harmless, or at least harmless to most of their betters.  But in this age of rapid communication and headline news, today’s pseudo-Münchhausens have become more than harmless storytellers, they have become our elected leaders.  Lies, lies, lies, and more lies.


Karinann said...

Thanks for the background on this on, Christopher. I always think of this "syndrome" as it relates to the medical/psychological condition, but it does certainly apply to our political leaders today~in the truest sense of the term.

cyurkanin said...

LOL Yeah, the title was just a play on words, nothing to do with the actual condition, but I think it applies better this way. Thanks, Karinann!

Enbrethiliel said...


After reading this and clicking on all the links, I had to look up the exact quote that was on the tip of my tongue. I paraphrase it now . . .

You're mad as heck and not going to take it anymore, aren't you? =P

The YouTube links in particular make me wonder whether the increasing number of these "tall tales" in politics can be traced to the first moment politicians had to double as television personalities. We can forgive the latter for entertaining us with embellishments of the truth; heck, we often expect it. And when the "telegenic" have a better chance of winning the election than average looking Joes and Janes, perhaps we have similar expectations of them, too, which we communicate silently yet effectively. And being the savvy people readers they are, they play to those to get our votes. We really do get the leaders we deserve.

Now, I've spun a couple of dramatic stories in my life (Ahem!), and I know that the more entertained the audience, the wilder the tale became. And because I'm that good (Double ahem!), it would usually be wild in just the way they wanted it to be. The world is so lucky that I don't have the stomach for politics because otherwise I'd be running the whole show.

cyurkanin said...

I am but a neutral observer, ma'am ;)

cyurkanin said...

Due to apparent war between WordPress and Blogger, my friend Gene was unable to leave his comment (as I am often unable to leave comments on WP blogs) so here it is, I can't let a good compliment go to waste:

"Great post, Christopher! The Liar Baron and his stretcher, the quote from Twain, and the videos--all of it."

You can find more brilliant posts from Gene at "Great Name's in History" and "The Best Artists" on the linkbar to the right!

Prixie said...

Ahhh, so enjoyed this too. Delightful!

TH2 said...

"...as I am often unable to leave comments on WP blogs.."

Consider getting a Gravatar account - log in, and it should let you easily comment on WP blogs, showing your own avatar as well.

cyurkanin said...

Thanks Hunter, will try the gravatar,

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog betwixt searching for a Pinnochio cake mold idea for my girl Junebug's 10th anniversary doth her birth and I found this post to be tres interesante! Thank you for the enlightening story.

cyurkanin said...

Thanks Rondell, and a happy birthday to Junebug!