One of the moral paradoxes that The Importance of Being Earnest seems intended to express is the idea that the perfectly moral man is the man who professes to be immoral, who speaks truly by virtue of the fact that he admits to being essentially a liar. Wilde set great store in lying, which, he argued in a quasi-Platonic dialogue called “The Decay of Lying,” is a veritable art form. Art itself may really be what’s at stake here. From Wilde’s standpoint, the poseur is to be congratulated and commended if his affectations bespeak elegance and style and achieve beauty. If they do, he is close to an artist. If they don’t, he is only a hypocrite.
But we cannot bear it. We must have comforting answers. We see pattern, for pattern surely exists, even in a purely random world. (Only a highly nonrandom universe could possibly cancel out the clumping that we perceive as pattern. We think we see constellations because the stars are dispersed at random in the heavens, and therefore clump in our sight.) Our error lies not in the perception of pattern but in automatically imbuing pattern with meaning, especially with meaning that can bring us comfort, or dispel confusion. Again, Omar took the more honest approach: