I’m not sure that I’m entirely appreciative of the way in which one’s tastes in entertainment inform pride.
Sometimes it just seems like a lewd throwback to the conquest culture that was so prevalent among all of those primitive, misogynistic eras from which modernity longs to remove itself. The cosmopolitan attitudes that now spread across the world loudly announce their disgust at the idea that a man should seek to seduce comely girls for the sake of pride. Sex is finally a thing to be desired for its own sake, and the libido is the rightful beneficiary of the satisfaction it provides. The ego must be gratified through other means. Perhaps that is why the particular art one enjoys now serves as a mark of worth, but the effect is similarly insidious.
If one should not feel pride for the nameless body that recently wandered out of one’s bed and life, why should one feel it for the book that sits on the nightstand? A father may feel some pride for his daughter as an author does for his novel, but the husband and the fan should be content to appreciate their loves.
The consumption of fiction can be a powerful experience, but the same can be said of anthropophagy. In both cases, the act should be enjoyed for its own sake instead of some imagined boon that is supposed to result from it. Like the pagan who believed that he could gain the strength of his enemy by eating his heart, the cultured pedant feels that his own power is increased by the simple act of devouring the delicately prepared dish that he has selected for sustenance.
One can taste human flesh without making a lifestyle out of it, but I must confess to the occasional abhorrent feeling at the rampant cannibal who defines himself by the stories he serves at his feasts. He is but a lonely narrative of flesh, sucking the marrow from the lifeless bones of brethren whose only misfortune was birth from less autonomous media.
Criticism is mindlessly ambitious taxidermy of a sort that quickly becomes grotesque. The most profound display of its depravity’s depth comes from the practitioner that takes the death of the author into his own hands, using the opportunity to craft perverted interpretations into twisted jackalopes of meaning.
Original intention? Integrity? Integrity makes the paleontologist a fossil.
Though my experience has not shown me that the position of such charlatans is often held by those who seek to create true glories, I fear not the contrivances of these mad showmen. Their fabricated chimeras are inevitably relegated to the dusty shelves of neglected museums, and they rarely provide lasting harm.
Consumption is still an enjoyable and worthy activity, and it is certainly one in which I indulge, but I don’t generally like to consume the fiction I truly respect. That stuff requires a different ritual.
You’ve got to fight it. You’re ready. It knows that. The dance has to be a worthy one, and you’ve got to be worthy too. Of course you are. You always were. You’ve been ready to take on any conceivable story since you first popped into this world, mewling in choleric pentameter through tears of ink. Skin the beast! Flay it while it still lives. Wear its hide like the impenetrable pelt of some ancient demonic lion from a numinous age. Let the lingering blood run down your skin.
Perhaps you’ll fashion bones into stylish and reasonably practical weapons. Mix its juices into the wine of your friends.
What are you going to do with the remains? It’s probably best to go with whatever springs to mind. Your first thought is to throw it on a pyre. Make a sacrifice to some patriarchal god. A peace offering? Yes. A peace offering on behalf of some fire thief of whom you have definitely never heard. He sounds like a handsome fellow, though. You give your regards to the sky father, but you really must be on your way now. You apologise for your inability to stay and chat. You’ve got to be moving along. Places to go. People to see. You’ve got this lovely new coat to show off.
In any case, that’s how I do it.
What is that lovely aroma that drifts within the smoke of the offering that burns behind you as you walk away?
It is the scent of ascension, and it climbs towards the stars to seek a worthy place among constellations of meaning.