Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.

To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Everyone Learns Character

When the Internet told everyone that she or he lacked character, everyone agreed. It was a peace offering, as everyone and the Internet had not been getting along.

“The key to character,” the Internet instructed, “is to know your self and to know other people. As an exercise, write out the experiences that make up your character.”

Everyone thought hard. Everyone had two jobs, though only one was active. The active job involved archiving the designs and technology used at Dasneyland Amusement Park Malls. Everyone wasn’t sure of the purpose of this archiving, though she or he supposed that engineers might one day wish to return the malls to an earlier state. Or conceivably, marketers might analyze the malls’ different arrangements to see which attracted the most customers. Or perhaps, Dasney had a collection of patents over which it wished to sue others. “Is that character?” everyone asked the Internet, referring to her or his filing of information for possible future use.

Yes, the Internet said: “Your archives lend to who you are and to what Dasneyland Amusement Park Malls are--though no one who visits you or your mall need know such details. You alone need to know them, inside you, so that your character is informed. Once your character is informed, all you say and do will follow from that.”

Everyone mentioned her or his spouse and their four children.

Yes, the Internet agreed: “Your offspring demonstrate your character. Even if a person only sees your offspring, you are inside them.”

Everyone felt reassured. Everyone had character after all, more than she or he had thought. It would have been difficult to write a blog novel, as everyone was doing, without character.

Don’t get cocky, the Internet blurted then by blinking the next words. “You can never have enough character. You can always know more. What is the person’s hair color? What is the person’s sex? Or the person’s age? And most important of all, what is the person’s purpose, the motivation for her or his actions, her or his meaning of life? If the spouse has the meaning of life but the protagonist does not, only one of those persons could be said to have a fully developed character.”

The Internet really knew how to bludgeon a person. Everyone’s spouse had left her or him almost six months earlier for the meaning of life. Obviously, the Internet was still angry enough at everyone to bring it up.

Everyone rose from her or his chair. Everyone felt like crying, but everyone was not going to give in, not in front of the Internet.

Everyone looked down at the dog beside her or him on the floor. The dog’s eyes looked up at everyone as if the dog were a girl or a boy who was remorseful about spending her or his parent’s life savings on chocolate.

Everyone sat down on the floor next to the dog and patted it. What was the dog’s sex? Its age? Everyone didn’t know. Character was so hard.

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