Saturday 12 March 2011

The Horror of it, or Something

Algernon Swift invents a virus of the printed word, which he is foolhardy enough to release in a bookshop. The virus is one of inexactitude: it makes every statement a mere approximation by inserting “or something” after it. Now Nietzsche’s Zarathustra proclaims:

“Behold! I teach you the Super-man, or something!”

Du Maurier’s Rebecca begins:

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again, or something.”

And Eliot’s “The Wasteland” starts:

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire or something ...”

Swift walks away from the bookshop, regretting what he has done. But there is worse to come. The virus has jumped from the printed word to the words in his brain. He is confronted by the horror of our existence, or something, and resolves to kill himself, or something. He knows that it is not just a matter of words, but of life itself, or something, where any course of action might as well be taken as any another, or something, because all are equally meaningless as we trudge inexorably on

towards death,


and nothingness,

or something.

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