Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Happy to be Unknown.

I've found that the fretful mind sometimes takes refuge in ego, which is why I spent a little time earlier seeking reviews of my published stories. I found one which began ‘The writing is reminiscent of Lovecraft’s, though less dense.’

Is being less dense than Lovecraft a compliment or a criticism? I have no idea. But then the review finished with ‘I was confused as to the narrator’s connection to the story.’ The narrator has no direct connection to the story; he is simply repeating what was told to him by somebody else. Dickens used the same device in The Signalman. Mary Shelley used it in Frankenstein. But therein lies the point.

If I’d written Frankenstein and submitted it to literary agents, I have little doubt that I would have been blasted by a barrage of ‘This is the most tedious, unremittingly self-pitying narrative to which I’ve ever had the misfortune of being subjected. Go away.’ The point being that those with a name are judged by entirely different standards from those who are unknown. In one case a reason is sought to open the door. In the other, the primary imperative is to close the door unless unassailable evidence is found to prevent it. I suppose that’s human nature.

But then my ego, with its accustomed habit of being disarmingly candid, informed me that my fiction rarely came close to attaining the standard to which it aspired. I knew that already, and is why I remain an unknown.

But what does it matter? Memento Mori is the motto, or as Thomas Gray so neatly translated it: ‘The paths of glory lead but to the grave.’

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