The Writer, Caught Naked without a Book in his Hands.


I had to run most of the way, which was tiring and didn’t offer up the opportunity to think. But as you say in Greek, κάνω, κάνω, κάνω.

It’s not that I begrudge the exertion - on the contrary! - I thrive on it! But in the current moment, now that I’ve stopped, I wonder how much was production for the sake of production. To create and constantly innovate to avoid…

I’ve mused before on the post-electrical condition of man. That over the course of the past decades and the industrialisation of novel-writing and playlists, with the on demand and constantly in-and-out-of-vogue, we’ve become voracious consumers.

The blame, if to any man, may be attributed to Agostino Ramelli, da Vincean engineer and prolific Casanova of the Italian seicento. Universally renowned for his design, Il leggio rotante, he dreamt up an ingenious machine facilitating the simultaneous (or near simultaneous) perusal of a bibliographic multiplicity. The machine, for those ignorant of this delectable illustration, resembles a large, rotating water-wheel. At the end of each spoke - or paddle - lies an open book, allowing the lecteur the ease of quick and ready access.

Historians have ever since affirmed that it was incontestably this defining moment, in the lascivious and omniamorous illustration of Ramelli, that humanity made the switch (naturally only to be fully realised in 1884 by the Englishman and unknowing friend of Ramelli, John Henry Holmes) from producteur par excellence to consommateur par essence.

The introduction of the lamp, coupled adulterously with mankind’s sinful predilection for knowledge, led to an unhealthy and wholly absorbing addition to the sapient resin of the apple-bearing tree.

In a letter received by your author following an earlier publication of this same prose text, it was impressed upon the writer for clearer evidence concerning this last point. Lay down your pens, O inquisitor!

The Evidence: look no further than the omnibus (in its aural and literary rather than vehicular form). The first-ever compiled in 1841 to collate three of Thomas Love Peacock’s more scintillating scripts is undoubtedly one of the most outstandingly vulgar symbols of modern, literary corpulence. It succeeds in rendering our consommateur passive for extraordinary periods of time as we turn, sine fine, no longer page-to-page nor episode-to-episode but - horror! - book-to-book!

But I’ve said all this before, and that’s why, when I think about running all the way from January to my cursor here, I quite forget how and when I picked up all those different batons of work. I quite admit to a crisis of identity as I realise I have, in thoughtlessly rejecting endless consumption, fallen foul of the far worse crime of mindless production! It is true that I’ve produced and produced and in doing so become the ridiculous anthropomorphisation of Ramelli’s rotating wheel! Where does this leave me except in dire need of critical reflection on the value of ingestion, digestion and orderly excretion - all in bono modo.

“*?*€$*!!!!!”

[p.s. The writer, shocked at finding himself the unhappy advocate of a condition no rear-view mirror nor far-sighted telescope foresaw, pardons the reader and asks for a period of three days to revise his ill-formed formulations on production and to consult, as far as he sees fit, Ramelli’s wider illustrative work.]

[p.p.s. He begs furthermore that the lecteur will not, in the interim, ‘overeat’ by indulging in too much extraneous reading material. He invites the lecteur to a proper and hearty secondo piatto in due course.]

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