Adrien embodied the spirit and aspirations of our readers and this newspaper at their best – cheeky passionate, funny, fearless, engaged, possessed of a lovely conscience and a swaggering style. (The Sunday Times, Goodnight, cheeky prince – what a silence you leave us, 11th December 2016)
I sit down at my laptop to write about the world in which we live. For a long, I have seemingly kept a silence on matters cultural and social, political and economic notwithstanding. And this while living in the city of Paris, a place pregnant with literary activity and consequential transnational vibe. I have spoken of the intimate loves of Catullus, not the public activity of Cicero. Until I read about the death of AA Gill from cancer, “the full English”, in the Sunday Times.
Though this could turn into a recounting of his life and work, where he schooled, or how alcoholism nearly killed him at 30, when we read that “We are all today in mourning – for him but also for ourselves, because we know there will never be another quite like him”, we might wonder whether that actually is the case.
By (un)fortunate providence, I am not dyslexic – even though I have just spelt that word incorrectly – and so I must resign myself to the tedious task of hammering out the lines on a contemporary typewriter. Instead of through the pleasure vivae vocis. (i.e. dictating it to a copyist).
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
An (un)fortunate distinction between me and this journalist, is that I prefer to tell the truth through fiction, and he through press releases and reviews. He also takes the stance of writing to a known public, whereas I do not write for a real public, but for one that might never exist. Yet, you still read my lines and hear my thoughts on the page, and I respect that. Maybe, an important lesson to be learned as a writer is to accept that some public somewhere will want to read what you are writing, even if these people are close friends reading on a Facebook stream message or retro blog sites.
It is true that social media websites represent one of the most obvious sources of control in our (un)fortunate world today. The power that these sites have is silent, but considerable. How? To understand this, we must look to the three rules of convincing per the Greeks; for a speech to convince, it must possess ethos, logos, pathos. Education, the family and the church teach morals, but when I read the newspaper, I see cold liberal news, or the factual side of things; and when I see social media websites, I see pure passion. And not the kind I want to bring home with me.
“The divers went down to the deep wreck and the boat revealed its last speechless, shocking gasp of despair. The body of a young African woman with her baby, born to the deep, still joined to her by its umbilical cord. In labour, she drowned. Its first breath the great salt tears of the sea.” (Quoted from The Savile Row suited flaneur who beguiled, engraged and entertained millions of readers, Mark Edmonds).
This could be considered dogmatic approach, but let us not forget that we are constantly being told that the system is collapsing, and so filling in the cracks with a bit of plaster surely is not a wrong thing?
“Quandiu stabit coliseus, stabit et Roma; quando cadit coliseus, cadet et Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus.”
A frequent comparison heard nowadays is that of the fall of Rome, but no one, with a few exceptions bien entendu, has cared to explain what this could mean. It seems to be a popular liberal expression, perhaps a reminder that members of this ideology hang on to their existence like the string which hangs on to the Damocles’ sword. But I might go back further in the history of civilisation and take another example of an ancient empire destroyed: arma virumque cano Troiae qui primus ab oris.
If AA Gill wrote with experienced first-hand accounts of what he writes, I write through the lens of my own experience – for better or for worse.