Gnostalgia: Writing Self-Aware Suicide
There is a space where feelings harden. Here we are, you and I, riding an elevator with no escape, hurtling downward with the weight of this writerÕs alibi, a perilous situation, little more than a burning fuselage of love. Our words come now only through a dusty light, dressed up in projections.
When the enthusiasm fades, and fatigue sets in with each textual layer atop oneÕs list of accomplishments, crushing what was before it flat and obscured thin, this is when the writer attains to the state of bitter malaise he had for so long feigned for the purpose of a cultivated public image – an image brandished in social scenarios and speaking engagements without parsing the two in terms of prejudicial or discriminatory use. ItÕs another publication, but the toasts donÕt rise up so often and quickly anymore because others are weary of oneÕs headdress weighted down with so many dowdy feathers of monotonous success. The novelty of emerging has been supplanted by being among the ÒarrivedÓ, and so therefore boring, repetitive, of faded charm, an out of place cordovan. Another poem or short story in some journal deep in the cheese belt, maybe. Pit dog publishers making swarthy offers with contracts pre-greased by a team of lawyers who have the eyes of a clay mockery of man made with a screwdriver. Reprint bids stacking high and left to play off each other in the gantlet of He Who Pays Most Wins. When is the next book few will read and the critics will censure or praise? An agent invites you to dinner at her house and sits in crushed velvet pretending it isnÕt anything important but hopes you notice anyway, perhaps enough so that she can add you as another up-and-comer represented between her sheets, and she will be flattered when you write her between yours. And you no longer have to prove your relevance with constant appeals to the past and what you have already done, but there is still need to vigorously promote your future with promises of larger yields of relevance to come like a stinking shill that talks in return on investment quatrains. You no longer grouse about rejections, but flagging sales in the chains because that is what your publisher keeps talking about, and his words are installed as a fiscal virus in your repertoire, hanging down and obscuring the view of the horizon. You stare at your ugly feet in the shower and remind yourself that you are indeed mortal and not already 200 pages deep in some canonical document or fatuous biographical dictionary. You stare at your hands, the tools of your success and defeat, and you realize that you are still half-alive, not some spoiled, fat god-child who can fart and still expect enthusiastic applause. Your increasingly haggard features brought about on account of solitude, alcohol, failure, and misery are now at odds with the infantilizing nature of literary renown. Your ugliness, like BukowskiÕs, is now chic and considered a visceral character prop when only a few short years ago you were considered a hideous bum. ItÕs all going to be ok. Rent is paid. Food in the larder. No more scrounging for money for that uncertain next bottle of whiskey because the sideboard is stocked courtesy of royalties. Surplus and overflow.
The interviews are banal, and you donÕt know if itÕs cirrhosis or the questions that make your guts curdle. Your silver tongue is nothing more now than printed history wagging with spittle flecks and discount sound bites. Asked about emerging contemporary writers as if you are coin-operated tomb or a PR jukebox meant to bestow credible stamps of approval to what will succeed and replace you on the shelves among all the competing and hungry heir apparents. You already see your books reprinted as Òmodern classicsÓ and moved from the new ink picks and shoved alphabetically between others long gone in the mausoleum of literature, in the high-ceilinged pap-domes that charge for overpriced lattes for disinterested browsers. Your relevance is gone and you are just another time capsule, another historical jerk in the canon of the deceased.
More interviews, and they photograph your dying features, your every charming stagger and record with devoted interest your failing faculties. They have come to watch the final dance of the wooly mammoth who has danced too long. They regard you like an old film. You replay stale, old stories of your struggle for fame to their morbid delight, and you feel as though they happened to someone else, someone who still had a firm grip on that antique thing called integrity – not this sag-bag of established Author.
You know they want your blurbs and quotes since they want the fame of your name to act as a reader-draw and a launching point, a standing head, and a hook for their dithering in costly print. They want sales out of your name value. They want you to vet their abominable works as you once wanted the established gentry to vet yours.
© Dr. Kane X. Faucher
Assistant Professor - Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT)
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
The University of Western Ontario