Once again, the essential gist of this mini-series is that I review my own writing, particularly Adjective Narcissism. Whilst there is a great deal wrong with even the idea of this ‘self-review’, I believe that it is helping me to understand what, exactly, I have been doing over the past year and, I hope, it will be of some interest to you guys too, whether you have read Adjective Narcissism or not. No doubt there is, of course, some remnant of my narcissism, in that I act as though I am the only one capable of understanding my, typically simplistic and often simply misguided, writing style.
I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been putting this off. No excuses, I just didn’t want to write this thing. I mean, how can it be enjoyable to look at your own work, as ‘objectively’ as you can? In my case, however, this objective point of view turns itself into something approaching hostility.
Adjective Narcissism is madness. It is, exactly as the writer put it, an exercise in showing off his own genius, it is how he places himself on a pedestal as though every other character, for that is ‘hopefully’ the creation that narrates this exercise to us is, is inferior to himself. This ‘novella’, a literary term which this young man has decided is more ‘experimental’ in nature than it actually is, would in fact be nothing but an advertisement for this self, for the fact that HE is the only creature who can call himself alive, were it not for the blatant fact that this narrator hates himself.
Whilst proclaiming to advertise his narcissism here, a theme so rampant throughout the narrative that it even creeps into the title, he consistently displays himself to be an opposite of the ‘high’ character he would like to prove himself to be. For example, right at the first page (or the first page in which the ‘real’ narrative begins, though I’m certain that is a displeasing term to the author) we find our self-obsessed narrator on a rattling bus, gently vomiting into the heating system below him. Immediately, we can see, his narcissism must be either delusional or forced, for some psychological reason known only to him.
This character/narrator/author is not a pleasant person. He sees nothing but decay, abuse and theft wherever he goes and it is for these reasons that I hope this narrative voice is not synonymous with the author’s actual thoughts. To live in such a world as he appears to see must be unbearable, even though every description is of a realistic place. There are no great evils to be fought in this novella, simply the slow realisation that there is nothing worth living for in the narrative.
The main parts of the narrative, if they can be quantified as such, are when our drunken protagonist staggers into a bar and begins to talk to a group of young men. Much in the style of Albert Camus, these youths are never given the opportunity to speak, and the novella instead becomes something of a monologue using these three as a representation of the audience. When he speaks to them, all the while silently mocking them for their stupidity, it is to the audience that the writer’s misery, and his wit, are directed.
His first commentary towards them is a simple evaluation of narrative in of itself, describing it as a ‘road-map’ He claims that it is merely a way of travelling from point A to point B and everything I between is merely a ‘bypass around difficult terrain.’ This is reinforced by his reminiscence of a tutor he had who claimed that every narrative must follow a strict set of rules. Subsequently, if obviously, he then goes to great difficulty to avoid these rules within the narrative.
That is a fairly typical example of the type of narrative which has been created here, one which deliberately breaks rules that it has imposed on itself, all the while drawing the reader’s attention to the spaces they had been and, in all but words, shouting ‘Look what I can do!’
Next time: The Author’s voice.