Honoré Daumier's piece titled “Meeting of thirty-five heads of expression" sums up the gossip mongering quality of man to a "T". From feigned disgust to salacious laughter, the never ending symphony of gossip or the keeping of secrets never ceases to amaze anyone who is part of the human race, particularly when seen through the eyes of an artist as skilled as Daumier.
What is it about a secret — by definition, something you don’t know — that makes it so irresistible? It’s a black hole. A blank. Something you can only speculate about. It’s none of your business, so of course you want to know all about it. It is forbidden, so you think its discovery will be enormously entertaining or shocking or both. Preferably both.
The funny thing is, there is a reverse situation: To paraphrase Voltaire — the secret to being a bore is to tell all. Don’t leave out a single detail, no matter how dull or irrelevant! I have fantasies of the CIA’s John Brennan listening in to my gabby old Aunt Kate (who was very thorough when telling all), and being cured — by aversion therapy — of ever wanting to listen in again. This could become a secret weapon in the war for privacy.
In the meantime, we will continue to wonder about our fellow human beings — those who do not tell all. Here are some intriguing comments that should make the process of wondering all the more enjoyable.
Of course I can keep secrets. It’s the people I tell them to that can’t keep them. (Anthony Haden-Guest)
He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore. (Sigmund Freud)
Delicious, is it not?
Honoré Daumier - The painter writ large. :)