I’m working on a new play. It concerns a naked woman in a wheelie bin. She pops out occasionally and shouts ‘feck the cosmos’ at the audience. Feck the Cosmos is the name of the play as well as the only three words spoken for the entire production. I think it’s going to be a hit. I think it’s going to put me in the limelight. That’s why I find myself contemplating the impression I’d like to make as an artist and a public personality.
I’d like to be seen as a gritty nihilistic sort, a misanthrope whose anti-social ways are tolerated because he is so highly regarded. I’d be known as a drinker too but not the type that has an Africa shaped piss stain on the crotch of his pants. I’d like to be the louche sort. Pissed in an elegantly witty way. Suavely inebriated. Like a non-bowsie Brendan Behan. Brendan Behan but dapper. A kind of Brendan Behan meets Bryan Ferry if that’s possible to imagine. I’d be debonair but also down at heel, earthy, genuine. I’d also like be known as a convention breaker. I’d be a source of both great worry and fascination at social functions. I’d know no airs and graces and wouldn’t suffer fools gladly. Oh, and I’d like to punch a critic at some stage. I’d punch a snivelling little critic on the jaw and roughly take his willing spouse on the same night, and in his bed.
It would be great to leave many lovers in my wake. I can imagine it, a trail of dishevelled and heartbroken debris wailing the words: ‘I can’t live without him!’ I would be the dirty secret of the rich and famous. Famous husbands would look at famous wives and know these wives are thinking of me, minds unmoored and blissfully adrift in the memory of the devastating things I did to them. Sassy female journalists would attempt to catch me out in interviews but instead they would meet my penetrating gaze and struggle for words. They would buckle and moisten and awaken in a hotel room the following day, too late to get their copy in for the next edition and unable to find their knickers.
I’d like to be seen as a philosopher also, a grim sort. A dispenser of uncomfortable yet irrefutable truths. I’d talk of ‘The Cosmic Jax', an existential bowl in which we all float about like pieces of shit. I’d describe Nietzsche as ‘a syphilitic gobshite’ and an ‘optimist’. ‘The Abyss my arse’, I’d say, ‘the Abyss is a holiday camp compared to The Cosmic Jax’. Pundits would gasp but know that I am correct. Leaders of religious faiths would step down upon hearing my words, declaring they simply can’t continue in their sham beliefs.
I’d also very much like it if I was still a point of discussion, study, and debate years after my death. I’d like my identity to become increasingly enigmatic as centuries pass. I’d like future generations to wonder if I ever even existed or if I was an aggregation of other people or maybe a woman or a child or a visitor from another dimension or maybe just a frequency, a sound, a hum, or a buzz with a faint crackling voice lost within it. An eerie broadcast that can only be heard on shortwave radio in the dead of night. I’d like people to theorise all these things before finally concluding that I must have been God and treating my works as holy texts. I can see it now, women kneeling and whispering praise as their fingers glide over the words I have written, transfixed by the pages before them, doe eyed and adoring.
This is the impression I would like to make. This is how I would like to be regarded and eventually remembered. It’s not too much to ask. I feel it is my due. I feel it merits my worth as an artist. My work is good. No, it is astonishing. I am without peer and should be venerated. Why else would I write? Why else would I make art? Why bother? What would be the point? It’s not like I have anything to say.