Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
Written By: Rashon Leyf
Lately a lot of people have said words such as these to me: “Rashon, we’re not all that concerned with conciseness, nor do we really care much about editorial tweaking, but why can’t you just tell us what we need to know? We’re lost out here.” And I’ve answered those people by saying that I can only say what I’ve been allowed to learn and know.
And I’m sure some readers will say this piece is ill-advised. Some others may say it was only written to give unwarranted praise to someone who always seemingly wants to remain in the shadows. But, I’ve only met him twice, and in those two meetings he’s profoundly influenced my life. Thank you Narc Man!
And is it because they’re being honest and really don’t know the answers to questions they’d rather not pose, or have posed to them, or is it because they feel the need to keep the truth hidden in files, piles, and drawers, that the self-described “lost ones” always attempt to relegate all my friends and I live for to some sort of surreal existentialism? And do my friends and I further that image ourselves? I fear both of the preceding postulations are correct; and that bothers me.
And I often liken the lifestyle my friends and I pursue here in this city to the image of a dark haired lady who can’t find her way home in the rain. But some say she’s getting married soon. And I asked Narc Man if he’d heard that rumor too. And he looked at me then and said this “I’ve heard that far away from her an artist using pen as facilitator has given a lover to her. But now this artist apparently can no longer control either of them. Thus, he’s simply wished them well. And he’s sent them off into a world where often chaos triumphs over order. And as they thanked him for their literary freedom, they also asked him if he wished them to live as he had; to which he answered ‘No, don’t live as I have. Don’t allow yourselves to always be seeking answers, reasons, justifications, and orderliness in a world where the skies are always symbolically gray. And don’t always permit yourselves to be on the outside looking in, changing from flesh and blood to robotic tin.’”
Well, I’d like to add a paragraph here about myself and the city I live in. And, as I imagine you know by now, my friends and I live by the river. And outlanders whom we’ve come to know and cherish visit us here from time to time. And they comfort us here. But the rest of Earth’s mortals, whom we see as extant in forty of fifty four distinct realms, know only that about us which we and the overlords of rightfully and wrongfully spoken and pursued capitalistic words and goals allow all classes of mankind to become knowledgeable of.
And I’ve always known that I’ve never known all there is to know about Narc Man. Yet, I’ve also likewise always felt I knew him well enough; that is, I thought I understood the ways and means he might usually be expected to follow and utilize. But you know, sometimes when the set of physical darkness must be deployed to portray all the actions we commit in an absence of light, then my trepidations are often substantial, and then I often wonder how much the Narc Man really cares about me. Oh, but he’s promised to always pray for me. And he’s said he’ll do all he can to keep Lucifer and his damnation from ensnarling me.
Well, as I’ve said, Narc Man has had a great influence on me. But before I say much more about him, I think I’d better say this: We’ll never change Narc Man. He’s always been a force to fight all that should have never been, and that’s what he’ll always remain.
But for about ten years now my friend and guru Ralph Hawk has been trying to resettle artistically minded individuals to our city. And, in my opinion, he’s been fantastically successful in that great quest. Nonetheless, one certain writer whose relocation he’s consistently sought over those years has spurned his entreaties time and again. But I can’t mention that writer’s name. Ralph has told me we shouldn’t attempt to stir up any more controversy as regards that individual. Apparently some of his literary contributions have angered a number of influential people in Manhattan.
So, let’s call him “Narc Man.” And I’ve chosen that title for him because, in my mind, it references three distinct roles, or constants of life, two of which describe him directly, and the other, while it’s not a service he performs, could also probably be said to be a trait he possesses, and uses; that is, one would imagine that to be involved in the possible apprehension of suspected drug dealers and users, one might need to be somewhat cold-hearted.
And, some time ago, while he was making one of his infrequent visits to our city, this particular individual, upon my informing him that I wished to refer to him as Narc Man in one of my upcoming literary pieces, and that in fact, in the book “The Students Of The Highway” I’d already written a short chapter which mentioned his real name, told me that he’d never actually been involved with illegal drugs in any context; that is, he’d never used, bought, or sold them, and he’d also likewise never attempted to police, restrict or further their usage by any human. “But why do you wish to call me Narc Man” he asked?
“Because the term ‘narc’ might also refer to your tendencies toward narcissism and narcolepsy” I answered.
“God! You’re perceptive!” he exclaimed. “Alright, I guess if you really want to write about me, and attach that moniker to me, you may.”
So, I proceeded then to ask him some questions about his life. And some of his answers form part of the basis of this written piece; but as you’re reading this piece, please remember I said those answers are only a part of this literary effort’s basis.
Certainly a mortal existence which seeks only certainties must be fraught with frustration. Yet, I’m certain that the greatest belief held as a given by many (but not by all) is that human life is eternal, i.e., it begins with a meager temporal existence, but then, after death, carries on with a continuance of being which never ends; a concept which actually can’t be precisely fathomed by the temporal mind. And, as the human mind fails in its attempt to conceptualize eternity, likewise does it falter when it even guesses about the certain characteristics which together comprise the personality of any mortal; in other words, it can’t ever really know anyone completely.
Thus, for consideration on this day of reflections, when one’s mind might as easily bounce backward or forward thousands of years, or remain tightly fixed upon only what it notices occurring about it in the present, is offered the realness of being which constitutes the undeniable actuality of the existence of narc man. But here’s a shocking revelation: The narc man isn’t always necessarily (and indeed in the case of this certain one has never been) involved with either the confiscation, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs. And sometimes the man I’ve labelled “narc man” wins that title through his own obsession with self. And can you see him now? He’s just laid a wreath on the stone barrier he’s erected to honor the phenomenon of narcissism. But some people say he’s also narcoleptic.
And, because his arrogance has evidently rubbed some editorial types the wrong way, some of them have now apparently decreed that from now on his actions must be closely watched, and his words carefully read, but then, if indeed any significance might be said to have been found in any of those actions or words, such supposed importance should always be downplayed. And it’s been rumored that the “final straw” as regards the Manhattan hierarchy’s opinion of him was reached when he refused to divulge whether or not be thought the factory girl should have married the billionaire.
And then, to add yet more fuel to the fire, apparently narc man went on record recently as saying that he couldn’t (and therefore wouldn’t) always agree with supposedly necessary changes. And I guess he also said that sometimes perhaps those who are supposing that certain changes are necessary should stop and try to image what effects those alterations may bring to fruition in years to come. Yeah, and I can’t say this for certain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, when he said that, he wasn’t alluding to the recent dictatorial decree concerning bathroom usage,
Yet, nevertheless, we’re not writing this today to grant any passes to the narcissist. We know about his overwhelming arrogance. Still, we’ve also learned about his confrontations with certain members of a class of mortals he terms “self-appointed intellectuals.” And we know that some of those types have informed him that his certain language, which has been contributed to by such groups as Celts, Romans, Danes, Angles, Saxons, Normans, and numerous others, should today be simplified so that it might not be too challenging to people who are learning it as a second language or, refusing to learn it as a primary language.
But yet, the question remains: Why is narc man so in love with himself? And, one day I asked that of him. And his reply went something like this: “Oh gosh, I don’t know! I guess I’m just naturally snobbish. But you know, I plod on. And I’m sometimes editorially criticized for using too many adverbs, and for using “and” too often. Still, I persevere. And I really believe the reason I can function as well as I do both inside and outside of literary circles is because unlike many others, I don’t need to protect a personal fiefdom, or well-heeled “job” (often subsidized by taxpayers). And thus, I also don’t need to pay lip service to those who so often are unfortunately simultaneously politically correct, but humanly incorrect.”
And at this time I thought we’d covered narc man’s narcissism well enough. Thus, I said this to him “On such days or nights when narcoleptic experiences befall you, and you fall asleep when you probably shouldn’t, what do you see when your eyes are closed?”
And he answered: “Sometimes I see a writer who submitted a simple love story for editorial consideration. It concerned a young man who thought he’d finally found Ms. Right. But then some days later a letter arrived via what’s now termed ‘snail mail.’ The writer opened the letter, read it, and then said these words to himself: (Oh, maybe writers shouldn’t talk to themselves, but this one does) ‘Wait! You mean to tell me you’re not even going to give them a chance? He pursued her against overwhelming odds, and when it appeared he might actually win her for the love of his life, you stepped in, and with your pen and/or word processor banished both of them and all their potential stories and interactions.’”
“But the lady behind the desk in Manhattan had said this to the writer via her letter to him: ‘These people are too unbelievable to be taken seriously. I know it seems sort of cold-hearted for an editor to intervene and end a possible literary love affair, but readers must get what readers deserve. And, from now on please stop sending crap to me here in New York. I’m just too busy to read it. Yet, for some reason, I also can’t bring myself to dispatch it into the slush pile.” Signed (name withheld) New York.
And then I asked narc man this: “Why do you always consider yourself and your own opinions first?”
And he answered “Yeah, I always think about myself first. But then, if I find myself reflecting upon linguistical and/or literary dilemmas, I usually realize that just then might be a favorable time to say a prayer for all I have, and all I don’t have, and for all I’ve done, and all I’ve not done, and for all the people who’ve helped me for one reason or another. Oh, and yes, I’m always also thankful for many material loves, but especially for one that’s human. And as concerns philosophical matters, I know they’ll never be really fully comprehended. They’ll just continue to exist. And we’ll continue to think about them.”
“And you know, a lot of things pass through my mind. I can still visualize the killers and the warriors. And I can still sympathize with the relatives who were left behind to grieve in recognition of the fact that they loved someone who died too soon – who died because mankind can’t live in peace – it seemingly needs to pursue violence. And sometimes I’ve just had enough of it all. But then again my mood will change, and I’ll again wish to know what’s occurring in the outside world, just like the time many years ago when I turned on a rather cheap radio to hear whether in the militaristic realm my draft classification had changed, only to hear that in the civilian domain some murderous villains had been sent out to end some lives of innocents, and to end them brutally. But now I’ve heard that one of those who committed those crimes long ago may be parolled. Or are the authorities now instead considering whether a past president who in reality did both much good and much harm, should now be replaced on our paper currency?”
And then narc man added this: “Sometimes when I drift away unexpectedly, I see a city where wealth once determined on which side of the river one lived. But then I see artists also living there now. And I can see a man who was sent out upon unbelievable excursions, and who married a woman from a different reality of the Earth. And I never really believed in parallel earthly realities until I learned of them in an ill-advised dream. And I can see a young woman who’s walking one way while the love of her life walks another. And I can see a young man who came home from four years of military service only to be immediately sent, as a civilian to Paris, where he fell in love. And in real life, that is, when I wasn’t asleep, I once met the two of them – Charles and Valerie – and, oh God, would that all mortals could be as they are!”
“But I’ve digressed. I guess you want to know some other things I’ve seen in ill-timed dreams. Well, I met a man who came to a city from a different reality of the Earth. And he became very influential in that city. And he helped that city as it progressed through many changes. And he brought artistic types to that city. And I see a man who pursued a woman named Pam but married a Marsha instead. And sometimes I see two women standing with faces turned toward the dawn. ‘What are your names?’ I ask.”
“’Lady Liberty and Lady Literature’” they answer.
“’Shall we be lovers?’” I then ask them.
“’Yes,’ they reply, ‘but only through the words we share with others.’”
“And sometimes I see a young man who lives outside the city. And he falls in love with a woman who came to him from another domain of the Earth. And then sometimes their love affair ends well, but other times… And then sometimes I see an island named Windigo upon which no one has ever sinned. And sometimes I see a young man standing there on one of Windigo’s beaches. But sometimes he’s also standing by the river in the city about which I also dream. And sometimes that young man doesn’t speak to me, but other times he does. And whenever he does speak, he usually says something to this effect: ‘Said the word user to the granter of poetics, ‘You don’t necessarily need to use words to influence. Take a look at all those people scrambling directionless in all possible directions. Why can’t a walker who walks correctly aid them in an effort to trump societal ills? Why instead must people of the future be left to potential peril, while today many who care only about themselves are championed as those in need of Earth’s greatest assistance? And why must the faces of many mortals remain hidden while their souls become exposed? Maybe the time has come for you to have both influence upon, and mercy for the innocents who today are being persecuted by both pen and sword. And, maybe you’d better try harder to remember to always pray that all of us may be able to remain safe from the evil which exudes from that entity which, once, long ago, in the form of a snake tempted a man and a woman to commit the first human sin, while it itself, sometime earlier in its natural state as an angel had actually committed what really was the universe’s first transgression.’”
And then, just as he finished saying those words, Narc Man seemed to slip away into what I guessed was probably another of this narcoleptic trances. So, I thought I’d ask one more question of him. “I know I’ve already asked you what you see with closed eyes, but can you now tell me what you perceive as being real when it might be said that your state of being is, at that moment somewhere between what’s certainly certain, and what’s perhaps, to use two hopefully all-inclusive terms ‘surreal and symbolic?’”
And in a state of what I supposed was only half consciousness, Narc Man then answered “Your question provides the very words which answer it. Some people can only function with certainties. Those types I call ‘real artists.’ Others seek hidden meanings within the very passage of time. Such types are termed ‘true artists.’ And never trick yourself into believing that both of those types do not have the capacity to live their lives either correctly or incorrectly or, indeed, in both of those fashions simultaneously. But there are also many mortals who haven’t yet discovered if they’re artists either true or real. And such people are, at whatever point in their lives they may currently be, students of life’s highway. And there’s also another group of mortals who try to keep life as it’s always been. But even their status-quo status can’t stop all of life (that is, the very actual passage of each second from the future to the present, and then from the present into the past where those miniscule measures of time will then remain forever) from portraying all of existence to me as some sort of revolving wheel or ‘circular ship’ if you will. And all of us are carried along through our mortal lives on that circular ship and its accompanying ride from the moment of our earthly birth until the moment of our earthly death when we gain entrance either to an eternal abode which has always existed to honor those who, during their mortal existences lived according to righteous tenets, or else to a gruesome dungeon which, after his fall from grace, Lucifer constructed for those who, like himself, will forever exist within, in an absence of godliness.”
And then the Narc Man seemed to awake. And then he looked at me, said nothing, and walked away.