Once upon a time, there was a story that began, “

for pfiore8

You who read this grant me life.  I was born not long after the towers fell, when perhaps the strangest thing happened to me, the boy who wouldn’t shut up; I took a job where my responsibility was to always be present but silent, to hear and not to say.  My father once said, “Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.”  But some of us make a different choice.  Seeing ourselves as a poor man’s Rosencrantz, we volunteer to be the supporting cast of a more brilliant story.  We forbear our own audition-worthy monologue in the hopes that the luster of refracted light from more brilliant sources shall bathe us in its reflected glory.

Fame is its own justification.  But like most things, we believe this was not always the case.  We have faith that once upon a time, there was a fame which was worthy of itself, where those with exceptional talent and skill are the names on everyone’s lips and the faces on everyone’s magazines.  At the time, I described my job as bumming cigarettes to famous people, but being prideful, I believed that I was bumming smokes to that kind of famous people.

That is the world into which I was born.  One where I was expected, and required, to be a repository of secrets.  One where I was always present but blank; a spare canvas observing a room where grand masters painted on others.  And then my ego brought me into the world.  I was not allowed to speak for myself, but I could create a doppleganger who could represent me to a small corner of the world that was already far bigger than I could possibly imagine.

Can’t we start over?  What is done is done, as they say.  I don’t wish to speak of it.  Sadly, I know that what is forever past is eternally present, which too, is as they say.  The future is blank, and all of this?  Filler.  Postponement.  Denial of the inevitable.

I would have liked to have been the sort of story that I read about, the sort of movie that I loved to see.  Something with heroes, and obstacles, and remorse, and a new day which dawns like.  But I am getting a sense of the sort of story that I am, and I am none of those things.  I rose stunningly at the overture, rising and cresting, only to crash in a cacophony shortly before intermission.  My poor mother saw this, the prodigal progeny gracelessly smashing its body against the balance beam, dreams of Olympian glory disappearing like in the time between the slip and my impact on the mat.  And she did the merciful thing, and carried my broken body home and asked no more from me for years.  Until she wandered into a space of Dutch-painted land and thought to herself that here was something I could do, and not fail at.

There is no formula I have discovered in my travels for one to redeem failure.  My plot was to be relentlessly unambitious.  I would attempt to play chamber music on the Bowery, never seeking fans but rather those who would admire me for my willingness to attempt.  As such, I am a curio; something no one finds especially useful but is interesting as a subject for conversation, or that simply speaks well of the taste of those who possess it.  At first, the attention was pleasant.  But I came to loathe my own existence, to seek my own ending.  I wanted to stop, to simply will myself out of being.  This will be the last thought I have, I hoped.  I will stop after this one; it is small and petty and not what anyone is hoping to hear anyway.  This one that follows is even more pointless, although I suppose that is not possible.  Pointlessness, the lack of identifiable purpose or meaning, is an inchoate state; one cannot be more incomplete after all.  I could just stop.  End.  Now.


My mother sensed my pain, and her own at the state of her spawn.  But for all the times she filled the bath, she did not have the will to drown me.  She and I danced lamely on, trapped in our sad and irrevocable embrace.  My only remaining hope was that you would end me, and simply close the window and let me disappear.

But you didn’t, did you?

I loved the movies.  I loved them so very much that when I saw the door that would let me see the gears and levers which made them work, I went inside.  And I learned.  And I’m trapped knowing.  I can’t watch a movie anymore without contemplating how it was made.  Without seeing the props and the set dressing and the c-stands and kinos just outside the frame.  Before the megastar walks into frame, I can see the production assistant hidden behind a bit of the set, giving her cue.

The trouble with blogs is that we are all now standing here, thinking, “Is this all there is?”  When it began, we could all fool ourselves into thinking we were part of something new.  That things would change, somehow, fundamentally.  We were changing the landscape, we imagined.  But it turns out the landscape is pretty much the same.  The best still gather; the privileged still become elite.  We are still just a mass of the hyperinformed nestled among the rationally ignorant, and they drown out our voices.  Amongst us, the mobius strip continues; some of the best leave or break, new trolls arrive to be shouted down, new demons clamor to be slain.  Like the dadaists and punks before us, we either had to learn to mesh ourselves into the preexisting fabric or disappear under the weight of our own nihilism.  We killed our idols only to see new ones emerge hydratic from their corpses, and with terror learned that some of them would be us.  Once upon a time there was a story that began.

There is, sadly, no way out.  As Scheherazade before me, tales emerge to prolong my life despite my pretense to will.  It will have to be knowledge for its own sake, its own joy; the pleasure will have to come from knowing one more person has heard the tale, with the knowledge that it will make no difference for ill or whatever.  To be is enough; it is, out of mercy or of spite, what I have been granted.

the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharans and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down Jo me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.


Skip to comment form

  1. This is quite clearly an homage to both a particular work and to several works by another author.  It has its origins in a request by pfiore8 for me to participate in her “Writing in the raw” series, something which I was not able to agree to do, but which I said I would consider attempting.  This is the result.

    You should not blame pfiore for that; she couldn’t have suspected I would do this.  Cheers.

    • pico on June 18, 2008 at 07:33

    is one of the awesomest of all passages in literature.  I’ve never understood people who’ve dismissed the novel as a cold literary exercise – that is one passionate piece of prose.  The final yes’s sound out like orchestral tympani concluding a symphony.

    • RiaD on June 19, 2008 at 00:36

    this was stunning reading….just wonderful!

  2. most of your writing is. Is not art like the blogs reborn over and over, eating itself and then starting anew only it can’t as nothing is new. John Lennon’s Giants and Shoulders.

    The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

    Stephen Dedalus    

  3. everything is new. and old. and ready for someone else to try it, bring some new light depth shadow to it.

    so you did.


Comments have been disabled.