“ – the dangerous words, the padlocked words, the words that do not belong to the dictionary,
for if they were written there, written out and not maintained by ellipses,
they would utter too fast the suffocating misery of a solitude …”
Introduction to “Soledad Brother – The Prison Letters of George Jackson”
He googled himself. He appeared 527th on a list of 632 bearing his name. In all of its derivatives.
414th out of 519 when multiple entries were discounted.
Search Engine Optimisation always felt a little sneaky to him. Not playing cricket, but there again most of these homonames and homonomenclatures hailed from countries where they probably didn't know what cricket was.
Other than an English archaism. Like him really.
And of course all 519 were writers like him. Well, not quite like him in point of fact. But they were writers.
All 519 had blogs. 156 had blogs to promote their e-books. That left 363 who were promoting things other than literature. Themselves and their spiked long-tailed passions in the main.
There was a motor-bike fiend evangelising oleaginously on carburettors. An alternative healer pontificating on chakras. She in turn was being needled by an acupuncturist who claimed her flows were all blocked. A moon child waxed lyrical during the hours of darkness, chatting live in real time only to followers on the other side of the world because her own people weren't nocturnal. There were several self-medicators and advocates thereof. A proponent of assisted suicide, who was only sticking around this world to bang the drum. A mercenary touting for work in a warzone, eulogising his acts of heroism from past campaigns, providing his own references. A dog breeder, a pigeon fancier and a badger baiter. A music afficionado who was not admitting anyone else's taste to challenge his own within the comments section. A bailiff and a call girl each recounting their working days knocking on people's doors, one repossessing, the other self-possessed.
Crocheters, cup cakers, those bemoaning the decline in the quality of modern day chocolate and rhapsodising on the late bonbon days. Type(cast)ing of which, there was a Tudor Court re-enactor as well as a fantasy role player extolling his adventures in a fantasy world on his virtual reality platform. This chimed with an actual fantasy author, one with literary product (the usage in the loosest sense) to sell. His was a troll site, in the guise of his fantasy main character, but he seemed to be involved in a flame war; with the real life author, or a genuine critic was however murkily unclear.
There was an animal welfare concerned butcher. An artist baker of ironic loaves of bread made from clay. A candlestick mime artist, contorting her body into all examples of the ornamental holder and with lit tapers sprouting from every orifice. A tinkerer-inventor posting from his shed in the bottom of his garden. A tailor offering seams of information about fabrics long gone from the bespoke catalogue. A sailor spun tales of his life hitting both the high and low seas. A invalided soldier detailed his recuperation, his intensive care regime and his intense rage at his quartered-at-home political paymasters.
There were tub-thumpers and apologists. But nobody here is shy as they offer up themselves. If they appear to be, it is simply their online schtick. A humble entreaty to treat their words gently and without critical faculty.
And none of it's fair! 519 writers and maybe only a handful of virtuosos among them. The democracy of ego.
519 smears of self, spread thinly across the blogosphere. The planet's virtual space junk.
Original content posted about their unoriginal lives. Life lived at one remove, further distanced by being written about. Composed. Edited. Fictionalised.
Updated wikipedestrian pages. Bulletins from the front. Despatches.
For this is how the species express themselves to themselves (and possibly, just possibly to one another. Or at least to anyone who clicks on the subject's site).
Desperately trying to share their isolated passions with those in the world community who are like-minded. So they no longer feel alone. Connection is all, the alpha and the omega, measured by the digits on the hit counter.
Like trying to find one's perfect soul mate. Whom you will never meet in the flesh.
Information is next in the roster. A glut of amateur tips and folkloric wisdom. There is no depth of reflexivity. Emotion is exhibited as just yet more data gloss.
Their frankly rank experiences are presented as if unique, and yet they know there is an elision between the 'real' them and the online persona, ever so slightly more thrusting and dashing as befits their writing being interesting enough to harvest readers.
Number 527, he tries to harvest souls. Through the old fashioned way. Writing a novel. It is not him and his life he attempts to broadcast about. He does not put himself at the forefront of the work. Though of course his fiction derives entirely from his experiences and knowledge. So in fact he is no different from them at all. Everyone's fictions are all just a question of degree.
The novel, the fictive, has never been any further removed from the immediacy of the culture as it is now.
The words, his words, subsumed in a morass of language, jottings, journals. Literature no longer at a premium, the ten-a-penny dreadfuls hold sway.
Literature is dead. Long live the fictionalisation of the real.
His name has just slipped another rank in the google listings.
He is 528th.
His book has too many zeroes in its Amazon listing to merit a sensible word to contain its numerate. Gazebozillion. Something hidden from view. Sunken.
He hopes he bookmarked the advocate of assisted suicide. He had been impressed with the unerring rhythm of the uploader's drumbeaten words.
He wishes now to be google delisted.
Therefore he won't even blog about it. Taken from my flash fiction collection: