'The sum of modernity is a deconstruction of function and a parody of form. It is both signifier and signified. It is based in baselessness yet post-debased.'
- So muttered Dieter Schlemp (author of Terrorism as a Selfie: The Case Against Common Sense, published by Ineffable University Press, 2006) in his sleep as a small amount of dribble escaped the corner of his gob and was absorbed by his pillow.
When awake, Dieter described himself as a 'Para-Baudrillardian Crypto-Narratologist'. He liked his self-descriptions to be as inaccessible as his treatises. He never trusted an idea that could be understood, even by himself. That was why he liked his own ideas so much, even while positing them he never knew what he was talking about. Elaborate pronouncements would just spout from the largest hole in his face and wind their way through the mental ether looking for some sense to make. Dieter often entertained the notion that his ideas would one day be understood but that day was not today and it wouldn't be any day soon. Dieter considered that if such a day was to come at all it probably wouldn't be during his lifetime but what a day it would be because his ideas sounded like they might be marvellous. For the time being though, Dieter had no idea what he was on about, he just kept going on about it. 'Does a river have to know where it is flowing?' was what he said in his defence to Annabelle, his wife, when she pointed out that he was 'spoofing' again.
Dieter was assumed to be of superior intellect by his peers who never argued any of his points for fear of revealing that they didn't understand the point that was being argued. Rarely did they realise that there was in fact no point to be argued and that Dieter prided himself on never having a point at all. Dieter was of the opinion that no one had an actual point when they expressed themselves and that when people expressed themselves they were merely seeking to make some kind of connection with others or, perhaps, to hear the sound of their own voices. All discourse, as far as Dieter was concerned, is just nervous systems in search of approval so as to better their chances of survival and/or reproduction. Dieter had experienced much approval in his life and he had also reproduced. He and Annabelle had two children. The first was a girl they named 'First' and the second was a boy they named 'Third'. They were trying for a Second. Annabelle wanted to call the children what she considered to be 'proper names' but Dieter argued that to name someone is to encumber them with a title. Annabelle told Dieter that she didn't know what he meant by that and Dieter reminded Annabelle that he never meant anything. Then Annabelle took something for her nerves.
So, anyway, there was Dieter, talking in his sleep and dribbling and next to him was Annabelle, ever dutiful, rising from the bed, reaching for the dictaphone and holding it to his mouth. With any luck she'd manage to record a few pages for Dieter's next book by the morning. So much of his oeuvre was achieved this way, nocturnal rambling. Then he'd wake up and ask her if she 'got anything' and she'd hand him the dictaphone and he'd feverishly rattle the device's recording onto his keyboard. Dieter had a devoted following of readers who were convinced his books might have changed their lives, probably. His publications always received rave reviews and went to several editions.
Annabelle wasn't sure if she loved Dieter but he was certainly a cash cow. Gerald, the only other man she suspected she'd had significant feelings for, could never have provided her with the status she desired. By the time Gerald had proposed, Annabelle had met Dieter at a debate on the ethics of having ethics that was hosted by her faculty. She had seen Dieter before, as a frequent panelist on a late night television discussion programme called God Forbid. He had deep set eyes and a jutting jaw. When he leaned forward the whole world seemed to lean back. He wasn't a tall man but he was imposing, like an owl or something. He wasn't a bit like Gerald at all. Gerald was a huge soft heap of a guy. He was like a massive cloud that no one ever noticed.
Dieter asked Annabelle to join him for dinner at Wittgenstein's Pabulum, a restaurant that was known for being frequented by the literati. When their meals arrived, Dieter threw his plate on the floor in what he loudly pronounced to be an act of 'asymmetric digestion'. The people at the other tables applauded and did the same. Annabelle knew, there and then, that Dieter was the man for her. Gerald was heartbroken of course. He put rocks in his pockets and walked into a lake. Annabelle tried not to think of Gerard since but sometimes she did, on those occasions when Dieter wasn't around and First and Third were at school and she had a moment to sit and wonder to herself what it all means. She became quite anxious on those occasions. She'd wait for Dieter to return and, later in bed, she'd sit up and grip his shoulder and ask 'but really Dieter, what does it all mean?' and Dieter would look at her with his caved-in eyeballs and his antimatter pupils and say 'it means nothing, absolutely nothing Annabelle'. Annabelle would feel strangely comforted by these words and lay back in the bed and not think of Gerald or the way his sad cloudy face exploded into the most beautiful smile each and every time he saw her.
Dieter had once spoken to Annabelle of love. He said love was a 'somewhat patronising chemical reward for the misguided propagation of a flawed species'. Annabelle asked Dieter if he actually meant that and Dieter said that it didn't matter whether he meant it or not. 'It's just another idea', he said.