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Tissue of Lies

Posted by R. Berg on January 27, 2001

In Reply to: Tissue of Lies posted by marcus on January 27, 2001

: : I'm looking for the origin of the phrase "tissue of lies". Thanks!

: : The term can be used in reference to cartography or map making. All maps are inherently inaccurate due to the difficult if not impossible job of transposing or projecting 3D information, the Earth, to a 2D medium, paper.
: The magazine "The New Republic" fired a young journalist named Stephen Glass a couple of years ago after they discovered he had fabricated elaborate stories complete with fake references, witnesses, web pages, etc. He was a rising star and got away with it mainly because the magazine was short handed in the quality control department. You could say he was a serial fabulist. There were a lot of retractions in the wake of his hatchet job.

Glass's work would be an example of a tissue of lies; the phrase is much older than that. The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition for a figurative sense of "tissue": "Something likened to a woven fabric, as being produced by the intertwining of separate elements; an intricate mass or interwoven series, a 'fabric', 'network', 'web' (of things abstract, most usually of a bad kind, as absurdities, errors, falsehoods, etc.)." The OED's earliest example of this use is from Joseph Addison, 1711: "Those little occasional Poems . . . are nothing else but a Tissue of Epigrams."