THE MASTER'S ORDERS

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about creativity, dictatorship, abortion, and high study

The master has told me to write a short story. He has told me to write a very good, very original short story. I love the master and so I will fulfil his orders. I know that I must write a very good, very original short story and I will fulfil his orders because I love him, but I have said that already.

      I know that if my story is unoriginal, it will not be good. That is, I know that an unoriginal mind is not a good mind. Therefore, a very unoriginal mind is a very bad mind. I think a very good, very original mind is a very intelligent mind, and because I know that intelligence is the ability to see into the life of things, or, put another way, is the ability to observe, investigate, discriminate and organise, within which organisation there must be reorganisation or reconstruction of the observed original, thus placing at multifarious remove the observed original, which thereby seems original (though paradoxically is not yet is), that remove being man’s mind, my mind in this instance. Because I know all these things (and, consequently, know that every perception is subjective and that subjectivity will produce a semblance, a stunning semblance, may I add, of originality), because I know all these things (and am, therefore, informing you, in passing, that I am a very intelligent man), I will, for these reasons, and because I am very intelligent and because the master is very intelligent, comply with the master’s orders. I will write a very good, very original short story (but I have said that already).

      I have studied many short stories; I have inwardly digested them; I have scrutinised their subject-matter, their themes, their use of language, their use and abuse of dialogue, their depiction of the great themes of literature, (the rapturous loveliness of love, life, sex, youth, desire, sweat, disease, decay, abandonment, despair and death!), and having scrutinised all these things, having made the closest of close scrutinies, closing my scrutinies in closey closeness, I now know that if I am to fulfil my master’s orders, if I am to write a very good, very original short story, I must break with all these themes and traditions, I must break with all these ingredients that make life humanly recognisable, and I must write something so strange, so good, so futuristic and so perverse that its originality will be in its utterly unidentifiable nature. It will, therefore, be a very good, very original short story. And it will, in breaking with tradition, prove itself quite exceptional.

      The master would want it thus.

      And because art has, generally speaking, been associated with life, I have decided to thrash that conception to death. I will sing the keen of death from the most vulnerable cry at the mouth of the womb. Or, perhaps, I will abort life before it has taken on the recognisable shape of life (though all will hear an agonised breath). So kind am I that I may even kill this short story (in the name of originality and the master’s orders) before it has had time to be told. I will strangle its cry. And I will be able to do this because, beneath this intelligent exterior, I am an irresponsible, rubbishy writer; and because I know I have life in my power, and conditions exist within which a great butchery of life can take place (in the name of freedom), I may well rip this short story to little, bloody raw bits of flesh. And the master, in great flames of anger, will clap my back, crying:

      “Son, you have done so well! so well! You have written nothing and it is good. It is lauded by fools! It cannot be bettered!”

      (And who would not wish for such praise!)

      Furthermore, the case for the excellence of my short story, its originality, rests on my knowledge that I cannot write, that I have no central source of creativity, no vital ideas that burn through my emotional life and leave me unable to do other than write about those ideas in prose whose rhythm tells of the force of the fury of that life. And because I am drab, amoral, irresponsible, unoriginal, what better than to practise abortion in the name of literature?

     And the master, the great master in flames, has told me that it is good. He has seen that it is good. He has condoned my repressive glory.

      And because I have no central life but am piecemeal and full of the fragments of thought, I cannot do better than follow the dictates this short story is laying down for originality, excellence, and the birth of death.

      But I am doing one thing that is quite exceptional. Unlike all other short-story writers, I am revealing my excellent impoverishment, my brilliant ignorance, my lovely abuse, my rapturous demeanment, in the very act of writing this, my most excellent, most original short story. I am confessing ignorance, ignorance, ignorance, and the most abhorrent lust-blood. I am saying that my knowledge is like a pebble down a bottomless pit, like a Newton down a bottomless pit. I am unctuous, hypocritical, unhumble.

      And the master has seen that it is good. And he has clapped his hands out of the great flames of darkness and, with great joyous cries, he has cried:

     “My protégé, my son, how good you are to be so blatant in your abuse, so honest in your virtuoso failings! How much better you are than all those scribbling sheep in wolves’ clothing, for you alone are snarling and claiming nothing for art. While they prate on about their petty nothingnesses, you alone are proving to all those Glittering Pretensions how the music of No Talent sounds sweet from the lips of your trashy BIC biro! You alone are saying: “Read, O read, rubbish, and love rubbish, because it is rubbish you read and you who read rubbish are rubbish!”.”

      O my master, am I not doing well so far, so well so far, so very, very well so far?

      And, at last, at long last, at length, at long length, in longest longevity, having given my most brilliant apologia for my most brilliant failure, my most nihilistic creation, my most progressive abortion, at last I can begin, I can fulfil the master’s orders. I can come to write my very good, very original short story. I can draw upon my extensive studies and break with everything. Everything!

      It cannot be bettered!

      (Am I not doing well, O my master, am I not doing well? Look at the bleeding bits, the clinical, cynical stares surrounding me, the hostile glances, the pulping bits and pieces of the aborted child, red in ribbons of blood, the naked, decapitated, barely recognisable head nodding in eternal gratitude at the world and the bucket into which it is flung, O my master? Is not this my most brilliant pass, my most atrocious piece? I have won. I have passed the test to take me to master’s most brilliant throne. I have written a very good, very original short story. O master, master, I am God! I am God! I have destroyed everything! Nothing is left to live except what I dictate can live because I got here first and love my filthy ease. O master, what of this, my most brilliant, most creative short story? It has no beginning and no end. It is so avant-garde, it is not even a short story. My brilliance! My brilliance! My genius! My genius! Nothing. Here nothing. Master, here’s nothing. I have fulfilled your orders, killed, and proven nothing.)

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