Sing, Muse, sing, though of late I must say your singing has left a lot to be desired; as much, indeed, as if a diabetic amputee, having wished upon a shooting star, were to be presented with a tricycle and a stick of candy floss. Your voice once inspired entire generations and in time even came to define them. Far from the exhilarating, hill-top libations of pre-Yore, these days, and only on a good one, your vocal chords seem limited to pyrrhically championing the anti-beauties of the gutter, and in a detached monotone, too, too forensic, and with so much cap-doffing the monocled men in Monaco are convinced you suffer from OCD. Your sylvestrian retreats and ocean-riding feckers you exchanged for a proliferation of scantily-sketched voices masquerading as characters, for technological gimmicks dressed up as actuality, for collar-grabbing melodrama disguised as punk writing. Muse, you miss the gym, you need time on a marplatense beach with Apollo Creed; too long, too slow has the honey dripped for you, O Muse; when was the last time you knocked off someone’s hat, and meant it? You disgust us, Muse, you’re as useless as a Frenchman.
Sing, Muse, sing of things you know to be true – but no feelings, please. We’ve had quite enough of those. Now mere sediment on the ocean floor of emotion, hardened by Time’s basilisk stare, then drilled, extracted and pumped like so much gloop to hasten the sale of bracelets and smileys and bolster support for our boys abroad. No, tell of things you know, things of substance, not of faces, feelings, failure or folly, of things that couldn’t even hold a candle to your cunning, pigeon-killing eternal flame there behind the Custom House.
- Like, er, vegetables?
- Está bien…
- Very well, but beforehand I warn you my singing voice was purloined some time ago by that pesky Robert Fitzgerald, my sap dried up by endless petitions from prissy pretenders, phony, perfidious, praetorian reprobates who felt their voice was worthy of eternity but invoked me rather than doing the work, leaving me with this priestly murmur.
“The Almighty has promised to resolve the matter, fortunately. A new wing of Hell is to open under the Heaven-Hell Bipartisan Pact, signed in Croke Park a year or so ago. ‘Tis destined for all those presumptuous enough to commit their worthless warblings to anything other than bare rock faces. The Muse is not a credit that can be drawn on infinitely, like some Paddy postal clerk who tries his hand at being a property mogul in Pakistan. No, indeed, inspiration’s running thinner on the ground than the same homesick lad’s drool when faced with an ad for Country Spring. Hence the deluded enthronement of derivative postmodernism.
“Hell, for this project we’ve even had to rob some old ideas from Dante, from our prime: there will be special shoe-shaped quarters, for example, for those who think a mere quill is enough to stay Time’s Black Boot. Shakespeare is currently in a holding pen being repeatedly being forced to watch videos of a world of blind men on respirators unable to either breathe or see; while a whole range of strategic fires and viruses have been prepared for those word-churners still in the game. The Almighty has determined that bare rock faces, exposed to the elements, are the only fair and just way to record one’s thoughts.”
- Están medio jodidos, che.
“We beg to differ. If art does not strive to change society and novelty doesn’t bring happiness, why should anyone be permitted to achieve immortality through their work? Tis most selfish, tis most blind, tis to impoverish the imagination of those who come after, tis to wear out this poor old Muse. Have I not rights too? If you summon me, must I not speak? And I would rather not speak banalities.
“The Almighty being a stickler for freedom, however, refuses to deny you humans the ability to write or create in any way. In his infinite wisdom he has but declared that henceforth bare rock faces will be the only holy way to record said creations. Thus time will have its say in their diffusion, their duration, thus that great stumbling block to creation, originality, will be removed, or at least refreshed occasionally as the rain literally washes the slates clean.
“Those who commit their work to any other medium will go to hell.”
So proclaimed the rather verbose bus driver as we approached the train station in Buenos Aires, which is like Gotham City but without Batman. Utter madness, insanity and strife; a horde of jokers and evil-doers going unpunished; the masses almost constantly on the board of rioting, of going mental whether it be an attack from the glib Mr. Ice or the collapse of the banks; a penguin running for mayor or rolling power outages, flocks of penguins with explosives strapped to their backs or hooligans dishing out justice to each other on the General Paz (the greatest misnomer since Dolphin’s Barn – yep, still bitter after forking out ten bills for a tour of ‘Flipper’s Ancestors’ Home’); the Riddler taunting people in the interminable queues; Cat Woman using some kind of projector device to appear on almost every corner of the city at once; and a heavily made-up Joker tossing about in the Pink Palace. Neither a black nor a white knight could ever resolve the constant parade of misery that files through Constitución and Retiro; and only the delightful tinge of boludoísmo keeps this Rocinante andante.
So let us move away from the sticky fondue of that is Baires and drift down to more sufferable climes; let us move to the seaside, to Mar del Plata, where the porteños go to breathe, a fine place, indeed, and here’s a fact not many people know: it’s the final resting place of Spiderman.
On a coastal corner in Mardel’s extensive grid, in the centre of the city, at nightfall on a deserted street, opposite one of the city’s many abandoned mansions (too exquisite to knock down but too expensive now to maintain, unless taken over by some business or greasy-palmed union), all is still, now would be the time for some thought if you were so inclined, but as things stand you merely light a cigarette and try to rectify your posture. The air is cool, cooler than a bed of iceberg lettuce garnished with Eskimo salad cream. And we wait.