The Parasite Text
by Daniel Green
Table of Contents|
Part 1 appeared
in issue 134.
* * *
I did not tell D.G. overmuch about my own recovery, preferencing to wait until my restoration has processed apace. Nor did I tell him about the discovery of the VTG and my intended usage of it. Mayhaps I will display this journal before him when I have terminated the recovery effort that is the subject of these verbalizations. I don’t know whether he would applaud for my due diligence in expanding upon the methodologies for restoring the good name of inditement or whether he would view askance at the proposal that our job as investigators goes beyond finding old inditements and establishing their indisputability. His scholarly scripts are perceived as the beau idéal in recovery technique, so I would like to gain his favorable regard.
The elongated plot in the scenario before us bids fair to lengthen even furthermore, since though the portion I have is unusually protracted it exhibits every wish to keep going, possibly even for an incomputable quantity of pages. (The last mark on the final sheet is 87. It is easily the most drawn-out sample of text I have managed to unearth, which prompts me to revisit the site of its retrieval for additional delvings in the postpresent. Perchance other such protracted portions of discarded texts are there for the digging.) Whomsoever were the perusers of this inditement plainly would have committed themselves to multiple intake sessions to close the text completely. Even a dedicated witness like yours truly consumed myriad time periods in obtaining full access.
The scenario initiates thuswise, and I copy:
How the book came into my possession is not something I am prepared to reveal. Suffice it to say I was well aware of the legends and fabulous tales that have accrued around this book and all those who have encountered it. The most fanciful of these tales, or so I thought at the time, was that the text of the book is ever-changing, that no two people who open it in fact read the same words, even though they profess to be examining the same pages. I will say that I was highly skeptical of these reports, although they did not diminish my interest in acquiring the book in order, at the least, to verify or discredit such reports for myself.
D.G. will probably point it out that this inditement also uses the “I” proclamation just like the other inditement I previously orated. Why, he will query, do I say the first one tells a “true story” but the second is a “fiction.” Do we know enough about any of these texts, or what sort of people indited them, or what they were used for by those who inspected them, to put them so neatly into these kinds of concept folders? This is a pertinacious question indeed, and I cannot troubleshoot a reliable answer at this interlude, but ne’ertheless I persist in my perception that whereas the first “I” speaks of real events the second one utters deliberate falsehoods as an entertainment device.
* * *
It is worth pointing out that our hero’s powers of discernment are really quite acute, more insightful by far than those claimed by D.G., although were we to be given a sample of the latter’s own compositions we would see that they are rather more free of the maladroit locutions and the invasive idioms of a cyberized culture besotted by visual imagery than is the writing of our friend and hero. (We should, however, be willing to consider the situation: in speaking into this contraption he says he discovered he is really engaged in something closer to dictation, invoking the authority of the Voice, the unmediated signification of the audible utterance, surely an intimidating prospect compared to the lesser and derivative effects to be achieved through the mere making of marks on a blank surface.) Still, despite the infelicities of expression in his own text — and who knows but that these might themselves disappear with time and continued practice? — his capacity to explicate these other texts is thoroughly sound, his judgment about their qualities entirely trustworthy.
However, I did not immediately open the book and scrutinize its contents, make short work once and for all of dispelling the myths surrounding it. I did not, in fact, even remove the book from the plain wooden box in which it was presented to me. And this was not only because my wife petitioned me to consider the consequences of such a rash action should my skepticism prove mistaken, my resolution mere folly. (In short, she demanded that I leave will enough alone!) Instead, I took the opportunity to further investigate the origins of this book’s mysteries, the circumstances of its existence before falling into my hands, the whole panoply of unfortunate and unexplained occurrences associated with the possession and perusal of this book and its curious text.
You should perhaps first of all know that I have investigated many other claims of supernatural or paranormal phenomena, and have thus perfected a multitude of techniques for ascertaining what lies behind such claims, although I must also confess that I had not before encountered a case quite like this one. With no pun intended, I am not a bookish man. I know nothing of old and rare books, of the channels in which they are bought and sold, much less of the intricacies of literary criticism. Who was I to delve into the details of bookmaking and printing? The arcana of interpretation and commentary? Of narrative theory and the phenomenology of reading? These were a few of the things I was told I would need to become familiar with, and to be sure I went ahead with it anyway not because I looked forward to acquiring this knowledge but in spite of my dread of it.
An unsightly declaration indeed! Not a bookish man? No interest is mastering the technologies of inditement? In doing a graphic investigation of his own sort? Verily, he seems a character creation of not much depth. It is my estimation that anyone “reading” this script (itself another “book”?) would be doing so to find its interest level somewhere else than in this not very likeable personage, however much make believe goes into his words.
* * *
We should probably not be surprised that our friend is able to have such an immediate, even naïve, reaction to the story he is reading (even considering it’s not the first time he’s done so — although as previously admitted, it took him a good deal of time to gain “full access” to the piece). After all, he’s really only just learning to become a skilled reader (and writer as well, for that matter), and it is true that someone equipped neither with the sophisticated strategies nor the detached attitude that only experience brings will more easily succumb to the subtle blandishments of fiction. Namely, the insinuating influence of the verbal persona, the narrative voice, which can lure us into believing that behind the words that appear on the page there lurks a real presence, an actual human being, despite the incontrovertible fact that nothing can be found behind these words except a silence and a void. It is a trick, and not a very difficult trick at that, since it usually works, even when, as in this case, the response to the voice in question is mostly one of antipathy.
I will here omit the false starts I experienced and the blind alleys into which I wandered before finally stumbling upon a reliable source of guidance and information.
After weeks of contacting the proprietors of used-bookstores, antique shops, academic “experts” of various stripes, almost accidentally while conferring with one of the latter I was introduced to a graduate student represented as someone writing a thesis on (I am not making this up) “the Occult as Other in Western Art and Literature.” Not only was he familiar with tales of “haunted” manuscripts, but he had even come across references to the particular book I described to him. This book, he told me, was not merely alleged to be a source of apparitions and the resting-place of wraiths and revenants, but is reputed to be literally possessed by a demon spirit, an envoi from the Evil One, a fiend so infernal Satan himself ordered it to remain concealed between the covers of this book designed in Hell, shrouded behind its duplicitous text of words, lest all the other satanic minions come to seem less frightful in comparison.
Like me, this fellow (we’ll call him G.D., for reasons that must remain known only to me) was completely skeptical of such a ludicrous story, but he offered to show me his sources so I could evaluate them myself. He also warned me that although the supernatural fables attached to my book were of course not to be taken as reality I should nevertheless be on my guard, since fables like these often attract strange company, weird and frequently dangerous characters whose machinations can be even more frightening that those imputed to the supernatural. I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by this, but I thanked him for his concern and readily accepted the offer to look over the material he’d collected. I made arrangements, in fact, to come visit his apartment that very evening.
Although this “I” is behaving in a mode I do not follow, meanwhile his inditement style is not that malefficient. While orating it in this wise I can notice the flow of the sentences and the selection of words. The sentences have plenty of sequence, but they still wind up where they’re going. And the words themselves seem most proper. I would truly like to gaze myself at the word hoard he could consult to indite this script. He displays a comfort with his words that I admit still recedes from me. Sometimes I project whether this horizon will always seem so far away.
* * *
(I now realize I have spoken of this character creation as if it were he composing the script. Of course the real source of these words is the unknown creator of this inditement, his identity unfortunately lost to us, probably forever, unless some fresh evidence of his work is discovered and his name is firmly attached to it. Until then, just another anonymous Inditer.)
* * *
(As am I.)
I arrived at the appointed time, but G.D. did not respond to my knocks at his door. He had given me his telephone number as well, so I went back down to the lobby and used the desk phone. No answer. I then rang up the professor who had brought us together in the first place, but he could only reconfirm that his student was expecting me at that very moment. I was uncomfortable going into the apartment by myself to investigate further what was going on (while standing at the doorstep I had tried the door and found it to be unlocked), so I asked the professor if he would come over to the building to join me in checking it out.
He arrived in just a few minutes (both of them lived in the general vicinity of the university campus) and we took the elevator back up to the apartment. The professor led the way in, so I could not immediately determine what prompted his flummoxed exclamation: “What the hell?”
Here this proclamation ends itself for a duration and new one begins. The two are related to one another, or at least this I infer, although the connection between them does not seem very firm. Not for a while, anyway, but sooner or later it is clear enough that they are roaming around the same plot line without ever really focusing it into view all at once. It is a curious design, if I do utter so, that calls upon the powers of attention without a doubt. What if the plot line isn’t very attractive? Might not the audience just give it up and go away? How many of these text-makers, with talents of inditement at their disposal, would take the risk of wasting it in this way? Yet also it could be a means of keeping this audience sharpened in its wits.
I will synopsize the second scenario before going back to the oration of the first. Such a deletion in this journal will save both time and space without injuring its sense. (Yet another innovational technique for D.G.’s inspection?) The linked-up scenario switches to a different style of proclamation, the anonymous narrator speaking of the actions being performed by characters referred to by their names or by “he” or “she” as the case might be. The time period also changes, or so at least I conclude, to a point before the events related by the personal narrator of the other side of the story. In this setting the “book” the “I” of the present-day scenario has informed us about has just been created. We are not told who exactly did create it, but it has fallen into the grasp of an unpleasant fellow who obviously believes it to possess occultist powers. He bids a colleague, who, unbeknownst to him, the unpleasant fellow begrudges, to take a glance into the book. We are not informed what the colleague in truth gathered from his perusal, but not long after his exposure to the text he does himself in via a rather gruesome and violent method. Then the unpleasant fellow invites his own wife to open up the peculiar book, and, sure enough, soon after the act she too has met a sad fate. She dresses up as a floozy and goes out into the street, where she becomes a sex hire.
* * *
Copyright © 2005 by Daniel Green