exquisite

Jul 17 2013

in early childhood Jane displayed an affinity for books, particularly works of literary fiction, and began to collect them. at that age, without possessing the ability to properly comprehend them, she was still able to determine their relevance to her interest by their cultural reputation. she counted copies of them in bookstores and libraries. and when adults who passed through her life became aware of her interest, whether they were involved in her formal education or perhaps were just friends of her parents, they would boast about books they had read, without meaning to but without being able to help themselves. she made notes of these books, and long lists of them, from which she would determine what she should obtain.

as she grew older she began to read her collection. it was never any work for her the way it is for other people; there was never a struggle to penetrate the riddle of reading, or even of any particular composition. all that was required was the development to maturity of necessary intellectual facilities, and reading became as natural to her as eating and sleeping is for the rest of us. which isnt to say that she didnt learn more and understand more the more she read, as on the contrary she acquired immense quantities of knowledge. her engagement grew deep and vast. at a certain point she ceased making notes of books. it was still necessary to bring new books to her inventory, but increasingly she found that the collection was reaching closer to definition, as of those she did not already own, she could determine what was necessary, and what was extraneous.

the collection was large, and ridiculously large; it ran around and up the walls of her apartment, and finally filled the areas between the walls, so that there were no rooms left, just small spaces for living between the books. her place was not very useful for receiving guests, but Jane didnt even think about that, because she just wasnt interested in it, preferring her books. and she felt no guilt arising from the number of books, because as far as any book went, she had either read it, or was reading it, or knew as a matter of certainty that she would read it, and at any given time was legitimately using all of it. she would consume all of it entirely.

Jane began making notes from books, and for this she often found a photocopier useful. she purchased her own photocopier for her home, so that she would be able to make copies at her own convenience rather than in her workplace or local library. she kept it in the kitchen, where room remained for appliances. the photocopies of the book pages were useful because there was insufficient space in the margins of the pages of the books for all of her notes, and this way she could photocopy on one side and write on the reverse. the photocopies and their notes in fact began displacing the books. when she first noticed that this was happening Jane wanted to keep the books, because amassing them had been the work of her lifetime. but the photocopies were so numerous that storing them required at least just a small part of the space occupied by the books, and not only that, but the photocopies were of the parts of the books that had become necessary, and the books themselves had become redundant. Jane knew what the books were; she had sought out each of them especially, and had read all of them, and could never forget any of them. in their material form they were no longer important, and she relinquished her attachment to them. as she extracted the photocopies she needed from them, she left them on the train on the way to work, or on public seating when she went to the shop.

as her apartment emptied, Jane filled her mind with the destiny of all the notes she was writing. they were proliferating; there were ever more of them; they were not always on the backs of copies anymore, but ran onto other empty loose pages. she shuffled the pages, collated them, and moved them one between another, and they began to take on a literary form. Jane knew then that what she had been doing all along and what was the purpose of her life was not collecting books but composing a work of literature. the disappearance of the boundaries between her source fragments, removed again through her observations and insights, was an interesting and new process for her, as she could still perceive what came from where, but the origins of the parts conformed to the meanings of her fiction.

but: a problem occoured to Jane as she thumbed through the file cabinets in which her literary work was all stored: that although it contained everything she wanted it to, it had come to contain too much of what she wanted it to. it was too wide a survey of existence for any one person, apart from her, to maintain in mind. this new concern was a matter of consternation to Jane, who had never considered that her achievment might not be sufficiently foused, and who now discovered that this was a flaw in her work that made it inferior to any of the other texts from which she had derived her aims. Jane had never intended for her work to be inferior; she had meant for it to be respectfully equal.

she had never known what it was to doubt herself, and she did not know it now either, but set herself to the formulation of a solution to her problem. clearly, it finally seemed, the issue was a temporal one; and she should eliminate historical elements, relating both to her own time, and to the times of all of the other pieces of literature she had accessed. in this case, theoretically, after the erasure of these sigifications of the mundane, she would achieve a timeless refinement, and liberate her work from the irrelevance of the decayed masterpiece. this seemed additionally as a noble and true cause to Jane, a sensible ethical consideration, and without further hesitation she forged ahead in disentangling all of those associations she had so carefully integrated.

while the work became smaller, the pile of removed material became larger, and Jane discovered another problem she had not anticipated. these fragments which were now only so many scraps were difficult to part with in a way that her books had not been. she had been able to part with the books because they had been distilled through her notes into a form that retained their meaning for her, but now it seemed that all of those precious inspirations would be lost. this was, surprisingly, something that Jane could not stand, and not even when she considered that they still existed as important in the sense that they had played their part in the construction of her masterpiece, like scaffolding. it was not enough that they should be thrown away like rubbish! in a moment of inspiration, she shredded one of the fragments and sprinkled it in confetti over her breakfast cereal and ate it all up. from that time onward, every time she removed something from the text she swallowed it, and it became part of her.

Jane did not realise that as her literary work approached completion, she was herself becoming a book. she thought that her skin was only unusually dry and flaky, or that she was developing some dermatitis she did not have time to think about; but the fistfuls of moisturiser she slathered on were all to no avail, as her body was all turning into paper pages. when her apartment was cleared of the few items it contained, nobody knew that one of the manuscripts found there was in fact her corpse, and they sold it to a publisher. in this way Jane became a bestseller, and subsequently was effortlessly inducted into the canon. but sadly, the other manuscript that was discovered, the one that Jane had intended to write, was either all made up of the most totally irredeemable nonsense, or was about nothing at all, and it ended up in the recycling.

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