Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taught by Masters

Written today (21 June 2009) and first published here.

They ended up not wanting to have names. A group of people who ripped off their unseen labels one by one. There needed to be an example set, however. Nobody would unname themselves without a lead to follow. A First Mover. The pre-emptive Clockmaker. If this were a story, the author would start with the example-setting character’s name – followed by a narrative of his rite-of-passage from name to namelessness. A tale of bravery and hardship, of a dimmer-switch controlling the light of identity, of those who failed to follow and remained named, of those who did follow and became unnamed. Yet to name the leading character as he was once named would be to jam the dimmer-switch by wedging in what it was trying to dim. The others who remained named would gain prominence by having real characters’ names in the story while the rest floundered about unidentified – not only confusing the pecking-orders within the plot but the plot itself. To call them by false names or even by letters like A, B, C would, no doubt, cloud the issue even further. Meanwhile, it’s good for any story’s author to relax and concentrate on the plot’s landscape, its spirit of place, before worrying about the entrance of characters,

The public park in Colchester, with Norman Castle, flower-neatened gardens, an empty bandstand, all eventually leading down grassy slopes towards a small boating-lake. Nobody has hired a boat today. It must be one of those times when everyone is asleep at home. The Longest Day of the year. Light at Night like the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even here in England’s Essex. The dimmer-switch of the Sun turned right up.

Without people, there can be no story to tell. But now, at first dimly seen, are tall dark shadows wandering around the Castle. They are the nameless Masters of Existence trying to form gradually into real people. They have been given no belief in the story-premise that all the real people are at home sleeping. Yet the Masters, so-called, remain only partly formed into what they had hoped to become since the story had given them no names other than as fictionalised Masters of Existence, no names on which to hang their identities. The story refused them any such luxury. So mere shadows (if slightly flesh-corrupted) they remained, ever-circling the Castle like forgotten druids. Masters of Existence who could not even master existence for themselves!

Suddenly, there appeared, on the margins of the boating-lake, the legendary Clockmaker whose clocks had hands but no numbers but, more often, numbers but no hands, because, with the former, one could at least guess the time they told. A real flesh-and-blood person. Taught by Masters, but lacking their ambition of existence, the Clockmaker actually succeeded in becoming what they had desired but failed to be. The Clockmaker knew that any ambition destroys the goal of that same ambition.

And now is time for waking. We are here, stretching, fully-formed, truly nameless, stirred by pre-alarmed timepieces within our minds but pure of heart and unconstrained by the deadlines of finding identities to wrap ourselves in. Owning identities simply because we didn’t want identities, the only pre-condition for identity being not to have one.

And the story can at last begin.

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