I’ve become obsessed with Tristram Shandy of late. That entire notion of an unreliable narrator and the layering of truths to create another, even more unlikely than the sum of its parts, appeals to me enormously right now. There is good reason for this: for too long, being the snivelling coward that I am, I have swerved and dodged the slings and arrows hurled at me by those who seek to undermine my work and beyond. And, to flip the idiom to suit my purposes, if only they came in battalions! For then it would be clear – the masses have spoken and they all think I’m an arse. At which point I could sneak off, lick my wounds and start again.
But they don’t. No, they come as friends, as lovers, as colleagues. They come individually, neatly spaced and lightly armed. Their slight is seemingly insignificant, rarely an assault. Their motivation is often unclear, even to themselves, but calculated nonetheless. Yet the cumulative effect is devastating. They come in disguise – wolves in sheep’s clothing – and like a cancer, once they’re in they set to work, which I mostly exercise for them. For their design is to sow the seeds of self-doubt rather than take a scythe to the results. And thereby I become the architect of my own destruction, and the finger of blame has no one to point at other than myself. Good, innit?
So the time has come to hit back, however uncomfortable that may be (I’m a liar, not a fighter). Stasis is tantamount to an admission of guilt and weakness, so clearly no longer an option. I will draw my line in the sand and no longer shall they cross it. And to those of you I will lose in the process, I say this:
‘I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you. Now fuck off.’
Do you know why? Because it’s not straightforward, is it? Read the second paragraph again with the presupposition that it is written by someone suffering from acute paranoia. See? Changes everything. But if I bring it up myself, perhaps you will salute my honesty and self-awareness, and be more inclined to side with me if it ever came to it. It’s a ruse. One chicane inside another. Although, in this particular case, it’s also a cry for help. Somewhere in all of the above, the narrative gets lost in the exposure of the framework. But by revealing a small portion of author vulnerability, I intend to cement from you a loyalty of sorts.
And so, gentle reader, I leave you with this: which layer suits you best? Which section of this woven tapestry will you believe, if any? Let us not forget I am still in character and I have an objective. But behind that character lies the reason to create him in the first place, trustworthy or otherwise. And the absolute truth is for you to decide.