On Readings of Short Exegesis

On Goodreads I followed the re-readings of Dadaoism, An Anthology to which I’d contributed ‘An instance from which telepathy can be proved…etc,’ the longest title ever, ‘Instance’ for short.  One reader, Janie, sought a mot juste and I offered ‘deconstruction’ or a derivative.

Another had read my story twice and was about to a third time.  Halfway through Janie was taking a break.  Appalled by this conscientiousness at the difficulty the story was posing, I thought of providing a help, with an exegesis of the text.  I may say my concern in writing the original story wasn’t for the reader but to transfer the life experience of a visit verbatim.  My ostensible concern in writing the exegesis was to facilitate its reading for two readers, primarily Janie, secondarily the other and …for whoever else, as I stated on Goodreads.  It was also something to take to the writers’ group.  It was Short Exegesis because exegeses are usually much longer than what they’re exegeses of and I wasn’t about to do that.  It was something different to do, and on its conclusion with the death of the antagonist in the same year as the story’s publishing I couldn’t have included in the story itself, I realised I’d made of the exegesis another story.  I dumped it on Janie, as I’d said I would, also printing it out for the group.  It was a bit long and I just wanted to get through reading it out.

Unprecedentedly Kevin, group leader, stopped me.  He was patently perturbed.  It was too much for them if I wanted comments, as if they ever made much comment on anything I’d written, not that I minded, since nothing they said would affect my writing.  I was reading too fast, for him to take it in.  He hadn’t read the story it was an exegesis of.  He had.  He’d promised to buy the book it was in to induce me to send a copy of the story to him by email attachment, which I had done.  He then reneged on buying the book (which another member had thought clever of him, to get what he wanted without keeping his word).  He said he hadn’t got the story.  I’d sent it.  If he’d said he’d buy the book, he would.  “You don’t have to,” but I might have a copy at home.  He evaded following through on that.  (I checked: I didn’t have Dadaoism at home but the book my poems are in.)  He didn’t know what it was about.  “It’s all about betrayal of trust.” Breaking one’s word might’ve been more to the point but betrayal of trust would do.   John said he found the story easier than the exegesis.  His need to put down is more indicative of an unconscious than his writing I’ve heard read out that’d substantiate his denial he has one from its lack of affect.  Jim said he didn’t know whether it was brilliant or terrible but shortly proceeded to terrible on the  indicative wish to reject wholesale with his it was like a footnote, he didn’t read footnotes, people didn’t.  Kevin wanted to read Short Exegesis and almost snatched the printout from me.  I wasn’t having that.

‘Was reading out Short Exegesis against noisy background of braying students and a man exhibiting his footwork I took timeout to tell to bugger off, when told – told! – halfway through by Kevin Kelly to stop, which he never does to anybody else, for their ie his, John Elliot’s, Graham Calder‘s, Jim Smyllie’s input, which they never put in on me and I don’t care what they say, though I suppose I’m supposed to, so all right: Elliott did his usual attempted put-down that he found the actual story easier than the exegesis on it, Smyllie didn’t know whether it was brilliant or terrible. Kevin’s piece had the intrinsic rationale it was being told or written by the narrating character and Smyllie’s first piece, of three! though it went from conventional third person past, by some writer without any reason for it, to the perspective of one character without any reason and onto another character’s perspective briefly, with no more reason than before, worked. His piece nonetheless worked, as did his other two, though I did mimic his, I don’t know whether it’s terrible or brilliant by quoting him, derisively. You may be able to tell how I feel without my saying’ was my Facebook account of the meet.  Facebook encourages one to explicitly emote with a symbol it provides.

Janie asked why they’d found Short Exegesis disturbing.  I said you can usually tell why from the language they use to reject but not in this case eg Jim said it was like a footnote, he didn’t read footnotes, people didn’t, which did betray the unconscious need to reject but not why with a rationalisation so inept it was easily confounded by the response I did read footnotes.  On Goodreads a Randolph found it tedious, as he was entitled to, though tedious is not a word that says more than that he didn’t like what he was reading.  He’d read Instance twice, finding reading it fast a second time paid off.  That I could believe true.

Apparently I’d sent Kevin an attachment of Short Exegesis.  He could hardly stop me a second time.  What he did instead was give John Elliott precedence.  When I questioned this he said it was because John had arrived first.  When I questioned that as sufficient grounds, he said why not, which, with the weakness of his rationalisation, came over as contemptuous.  He was backed by John Elliott’s why not and a quick handing-out of copies of his piece.  It looked prearranged.

‘I, being Cancerian, was ready to bile over.’  Bile is Scotch for boiling but means seething with anger.

‘John’s writing’s flat and makes no distinction between who’re ghosts and who’s not.’

I said I didn’t have to read if they didn’t want me to.  I was given leave.  Jim wanted a reprise before what he called the second part.  I said it wasn’t a second part but a continuation since I’d been stopped.  I couldn’t have made a reprise if I’d wanted to I was so consumed by an anger likely to sabotage my reading and at one point, probably when Kevin looked for distraction, I was about to up and leave but that would’ve been self-defeating in a longer term and agreeable to them.

‘I read with a catch in my throat.’  I was finding the repetitive ‘John said, Bob said’ tedious, however necessary to making clear who said or thought what, but the writing improved with the reading.

‘John said it was another story. Kevin fell back on the unconscious being what one is ignorant of, making ignorance a virtue and maintaining consciousness’s conceit it’s what’s important. Did they choose their partners as they choose toothpastes? Maybe. They are pretty well interchangeable. Jim said he’d say nothing because he thought differently, like them I expect. Their unconsciouses are different from mine.  Sunk inside.  Kevin seemed still in control of what he’s doing, probably therefore unconsciously if it’s all holding together,’ I wrote, detecting on reading it an expression of contempt but, on re-reading, perhaps not  and simply in an offhanded style put on for Facebook.

I left before Jim read but had said I would and it was not to be taken as disparagement.


About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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