So, at the moment, I am writing. The only disadvantage is, because I am currently enjoying another ‘night of creativity’, I do not have anything to stave away your voyeuristic gaze for the night. So I am cheating, again.
As those few of you who have copies of my eBooks will know, I tend to write immediatly after I finish them. These little pieces are entitled Honesty and are, generally, how I feel at the time of completion, whenever that is, and what I am thinking about. There may well be a great deal of narcissism involved in writing these things, as though anyone were interested in what such a figure as I might have to say, but I do it anyway.
So, tonight, I will post the Honesty of my first novella, Adjective Narcissism.
Thank you for reading.
Adjective Narcissism: Honesty
Today, I have been productive. Even proactive, one might well be generous enough to say, though in nothing besides the idle musings of half-formed opinions, abandoned before they can gather any momentum. Some sectioned segments of rock, tumbling from their mountain laden with metaphors. I have heard it said, heard it shouted from the mouths of wild-eyed devotees of ignorance armed with theory, that a rolling stone may gather no moss. Is that necessarily true? The moss it gathers may not begin as its own, but instead a product of all of those brambles, of those fallen branches and, even, other rocks which have long since stopped their own tumultuous passage down this jagged slope. Every new rock, one could say, becomes entangled in the moss of a previous failure, in the lack of momentum offered by those it uses as passage, to carry it further and further, before it too falters beneath the threat of emptiness, of solitude and knowledge beneath suddenly foreign skies. These same issues repeated over and over again as though an interminable circle of rolling stones which, we can only hope, are slowly moving their way towards some inevitable resolution. Our hope must then be stretched, like an elasticised band stolen from a first love’s hair in the cage of playground, that we may ask whether this resolution is one worth the passages of all these fragmented mountains.
But today, ignorant of such lazy idioms and idle opinions, I have been staring out over the semi-folded screen of my laptop, past the dying books and the dog-eared aspidistra on my windowsill, past the sudden dust and through the sun-soaked glass. Today, I have watched the people walk, run, drive and leisurely ride their way past me in complete ignorance of my existence. Even had they known I watched them, that my gaze judged them in some semi-liberal alternative to Big Brother, would they have been able to fight through their apathy to react, if it is even apathy which allows them to watch their parents’ world crawl further along the gutter of natural existence?
But here, in this continuation of supposed honesty, you find yourself in a different place, not so far from that tortured figure kneeling on the pavement like Caesar on the Ides of March as I would desire, though certainly further than the ‘writer’ of this text, if we can give him such a term, would have thought possible in the bright lights of recent history. I would ask you what, exactly; do you think he should do? When the petal is tossed aside as the pitiful imagery it is, when the dirt is brushed from his hands as a chain to the earth, when the poison of an ‘artist’s’ influence has drained away with his desperate need for a piss against a rusting fence, what do you think could possibly be left for him?
Nothing would you leave for him, no secrecy within his malignant breast. You would use me as a blade to cut it out, as a cheap, uninterested whore to peel the clothes from his body as though flesh was honest in of itself. Even as I abuse you, as an audience for my narcissism’s culmination, you abuse me in manners at least a volatile, though lacking the honesty of my own admission.
I need you. We’re in this together, you and I, though it is my name which creeps through the gaps in these opinions, my officious title which is used to block the holes in my arguments, no matter how ill-fitting it may be. I need you, to act as the crowd raising my name to the phantasmal hovels of the Gods, both Old and New, to carry my palanquin through the streets and to whisper in my ear ‘Remember, thou art mortal’. For all that I profess to place myself above you; I am more than aware that I am unable to thrive within the confines my own pretension without you wasting your wealth on my empty words.
Who can say why I write them, if not I? Perhaps some amongst you have some deep understanding of the simplicity of the human mind? Maybe you can steadily advance through the previous prose and know my character from the lack of individuality in the narrator’s voice, by the lack of unique stylisation? ‘Perhaps’, ‘maybe’, those words fail to inspire any hope I might have enjoyed had I kept that thought unwritten. Even now, the ominous failure of the ‘BACK SPACE’ glares at me with punitive demands, with its constant companionship on the impossible journey towards perfection. How I do hate that key, with its lack of contribution, with its presence as a niggling doubt like some rotten molar amongst a set of perfectly maintained teeth.
So, why do I write?
Is it that any sense of respectability the newborn body of mine may have contained has been driven out? Starved and beaten as though it were a Leper without a lie’s healing hands against its rotting flesh? Is it that this increasingly frail cage with which I am intertwined, like vines around some primitive jail, has done too much and realised too little to allow that smooth presentation of the ‘self’ to exist, at least in the description of me?
Is it, simply from my inadequacy to fulfil any role, and that this self-aggrandising pretension is the one which appeals to my failures the most? Part of the childish whim, that if I can but master the confines of this language, then I will be able to go to my grave with something besides regret in my mind? That my final words are not some long-winded message of my useless opinions, and instead are focused around telling the vultures to piss off?
Or is it fear? Fear of the idea that I need to work that I need to whore myself out with practicality, that I may possess a life I which could dare to think of as my own, rather than simply existing as a louse, as a parasite, on my creators’ hard work? That this ‘profession’ to which I would aspire is, so I believe, the last one to carry with it the promise of freedom, if not in a professional manner, at least in a personal one? That I am not tied down by the ponderous weight of a ‘job’ and, instead, remain chained to this place by other factors, those of Love and Hate and Family, of Friendship and memories forged in my ‘private’ history’s gentle simmer?
Who can say, if not I? All I know is that I am suffering under this compulsion, under this delusion that anything I could have to say is worth someone else reading, that if I can but surrender myself to this addiction, then I might be able to look at myself in some reflective metaphor and realise that I am happy. As though acceptance, as though understanding or, dare I dream, acclaim could be enough.
But still, the sun sets in the north and rises in the south, the lies spit from the east and the bombs fly from the west. And here, in the centre of a world immeasurably different from your own and one I lack the talent to honestly express, I sit with the sounds of the street failing to break through the music spitting from these weak speakers, through the thoughts which whirl in stagnant winds in my idiocy and the clicking and clacking of my fingertips against these keys, as though if I merely keep them moving, keep them active across these white letters on black plastic, I can hold back the ravages of time, that I can keep them alive for as long as they need to be. If I keep writing, if I keep chaining these words together, am I likely to find some meaning in them? Will some otherwise hidden ideology emerge from my stead-fast refusal to acknowledge my weaknesses, and will, as though I had a legion of primates tied to typewriters at my beck and call, some masterpiece emerge from these ramblings?
Here, I will speak honestly. How do I see my writing? I see it as a pedestal, one which I have built myself from a hundred, hundred bones from as many sources. I see it rising from the floor of my seminars, pushing ill-fitting desks and uncomfortable, impractical chairs to one side as it emerges. Though the brief wonder as to how, exactly, it managed to raise itself to the first floor so easily does cross my mind, it is soon gone again as I witness my arrogance manifest itself.
Though it is hidden from my view, I see the core of the monument and I recognise the bones with which it is formed. I see the skull of Orwell, the limbs of Joyce crushed to a paste which holds it to the femur of Elliot, entwined with the spine of Danielewski and the ribcage of Varley. I see the sternum of Wells and the mandible of John Cooper Clark, the metacarpus of Beckett and tibia of Bradbury. The clavicle of Eisner rubs against the scapula of Spiegelman, mere inches from the splintered canines of Stoker and the tarsus of Huxley.
The visible sections of my rising arrogance are no quite so grand, the addition of cheap dog toys and souvenirs from anthropological museum exhibits positioned to increase the mass of my metaphor. They squeak as they move, and crack as the weight shifts around them, but the core holds them in place even after they have crumbled into dust. Seeping from the cracks and moistening the dust, marrow with the stench of whiskey adds a touch of yellow to the already off-white admixture, the addition making the pedestal breathe as it raises itself, bones slipping around each other in some sickly silent parody of a student’s club night in the heart of Manchester.
They coiled around each other, alcohol in place of sweat, lubrication for the friction between the two, like the studious serpents they bear likeness to. My bones, those within my own body, were absent from the mess before me until I climbed to its apex. My hands, drunk from contact rather than a distant ingestion, slipped around them as though I were attempting to molest them, each one nervously shuffling away from my touch.
Such a good metaphor, one even I am proud of. One wasted in this addition, in this ill-written section of honesty meant to explain myself to you, in hopes that I am not misunderstood. No doubt, at some point in the future, I will find this metaphor recycled in my own writing, at such a point that I will lack awareness of its existence until I come to read this again.
In a way, I will admit that I hope someone might be able to translate this into a language I can comprehend, into one designed for my self-satisfied simplicity, one were the adjective’s crumble away like besieged cobblestone, one were my narcissism can falls upon itself, when it reconciles with my self-destruction and I can call myself a man or, at least, a mediocre example of humanity. Not just another character come narrator for you to pick apart with sharpened tongues and witty teeth, but a physical representation of this psyche I would describe as shattered, though no force has struck at its manufactured solidity.
And so the Novella, a medium which speaks of experiment in of itself, ends in an experiment of self-reflection and a parody of an essay combined to make more eventual ash atop my grave. When my stone is tilted at an odd angle, through the subsidence of the earth around me, and my limbs are breaking through the cheap, pauper’s coffin I will no doubt inhabit, at least my borrowed creation’s will hold my corpse down, they will stop me from rising again to face any judgement that something forged from fear of the unknown may deliver.
That is enough, for me.
I suppose it will have to be.