Excerpt: "The Jester's Complaint" (Modus Dialogukung)
Ron gets sick of the philosophy behind his writing career with B&M Publishers. So he rages to Robert, his editor, publisher and friend (whom he affectionately refers to as Herr Schleimer).
“You ought to have more self respect. You’re a poet, dammit.”
“Hah! A ‘poet’? Nothing as high sounding as that. I’m a mercenary, a lingual slave, a court jester.”
“Come now. Don’t you see it’s not like that? Besides, a court jester only plays for kings."
“And I, Herr Schleimer? Who do I play to please? Who is it that I must always aim to impress with language and poetic gymnastics? Not one man on one throne, but a whole host -- thousands! All seated on the white thrones established for my judgment. Whether to a man or to the masses, it’s true, I’m a court jester, a slave to pleasing others with a word for pay, for my very livelihood.”
“Listen to you, you’re even waxing eloquent in your complaint. Come on, be honest. You know joy in sharing words. You find excitement, a beating of the heart. And even though it brings pleasure to others -- even if for pay -- well even so, doesn’t it at least bring pleasure to yourself?”
“Pleasure for me? Bah! That’s laughable. Joy for me? As if hiring out my love as a whore would give me pleasure. As if prostituting my lover to the whims of others thinking themselves better, fancying themselves the regal crown prince -- as if I could delight myself in such an unmaking of me.”
“Just think for a moment. It’s not all that bad. You’ve got it all -- a place to live, a cabin nonetheless, good friends, a paying job --”
“Another reason, really? As if the luxuries afforded me, as if the society made it worth it, as if, in exchange for these common commodities, it was worth trading my soul for. Really? You would put such a low market value on my soul? And what am I? An ox, trudging the muck of countryside swamps, whipped drivings and cravings of a mad farmer hankering for crops to fatten his family on -- no, not merely sustaining them on. In that case, I could handle my own detriment. That in of itself is a common and decent aspiration. But theirs is merely to fatten them up.”
“Now really, I think you may be overvaluing your role here, maybe taking your contributions to the wellbeing of society a little too far. I doubt language -- or at least writing, even if beautiful -- is the making, let alone the sustenance, of any one individual.”
“Ah, and there it is! There’s the attitude that I appease with each syllable and refrain. Oh Herr Schleimer, but it is. It’s the one commodity in this era that we must fight for. Food is abundant, and more importantly, ours. Why else do you think we burn it and make gas out of it? Transportation is abundant. We buy more cars than we need. Variegated experiences are overabundant. We’re drowned by all of the opportunities for sensual -- that is, sense-oriented -- gratification. But beautiful language? Wonderful writing? Prose that impassions, that draws out that sweet taste of nostalgia, that makes us love again, that makes us dance with its rhythm, that shows us a truth or meaning about the world, that makes us laugh to tears, that makes us cry to laugh -- Herr Schleimer! That is the stuff of gold. The oil that we drill for furiously. And if we can’t bathe or drown in the excess of it like the rest of our worldly common commodities -- well, we demand it until we get it.”
“I already know what you’re thinking, Schleimer. Why me? Why do I think myself important, enough to win and deserve and refuse the people that shower garlands of linguistic praise on me -- the Olympian victor -- and I, all the while, filled with nothing but animosity. Aye, I’ll admit it, I am. And I don’t even blame them for what they’re doing. Writers nowadays suck. They suck real bad, Schleimer. They don’t know how to get a sentence out on paper, let alone a book, let alone make the sentence sing and soar like a winging angel -- that’d never happen with the postmodernists. And you know what, Schleimer? I hate it.”
“Well. I didn’t realize you felt that way.”
“Well I do.”
“No. You misunderstand me. What I didn’t realize is that you held such pompous disdain for your work and all that you’ve been so greatly privileged with. It’s really quite shocking. And I think both you and I had better think about what you just said -- long and hard. Because everything changes now.”
With that, Schleimer stood up. The door slammed upon his exit.
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