I had finished the final draft of my much-anticipated autobiography ‘Fantasies of a Deranged Ego’ in the summer of this year, as I have already mentioned, but to my disappointment none of the publishers that I had a shortlisted showed any sign of being interested. ‘What’s wrong with the bastards?’ I asked myself angrily, ‘don’t they recognise art when they see it?’ No one cares about egoic fantasies, obviously. Nobody gives a damn. Only they do – of course they do. What else do people ever talk about, after all?
I ate the Cake of Plenty and then it was gone so it wasn’t the Cake of Plenty any more. It was the Cake of Nothing and this made me sad. It was the Cake of Want, the Cake of Need, and the good time I was having when I was eating it was over. ‘So brief, so brief,’ I mourned, ‘so brief the pleasure of eating the Cake of Plenty’. I ate the Cake of Plenty in a hurry and then before I knew the cake was gone and I was plunged into the darkest despair. I was sorely afflicted with misery and anguish, misery and anguish that no one could talk me out of. ‘Why does it have to be so?’ I lamented, ‘why does the Cake of Plenty have to vanish so quickly and then turn into the Cake of Need?’
So anyway that’s what I’m at, just in case you’re wondering. Going around on my hands and knees combing the carpet for crumbs. Literally combing the carpet. I’m in a state of utter desolation, in a state of utter disbelief, unable to believe that there is nothing left. ‘Why did I have to eat it so quickly?’ I ask myself, ‘why didn’t I put a little bit aside to enjoy later?’ I find myself wondering how the world could all of a sudden turn so dark – one minute everything is great and I’m running around saying how fantastic everything is, great soggy lumps of cake falling from my mouth all over the shop as I babble nonsense, and then the next moment I am plunged into the darkest despair, into the worst pit of melancholy that I’ve ever been in my life. ‘How is it even possible to feel so bad?’ I wonder, ‘how is such a thing even possible?’
I was fishing for praise – ‘Hey you guys,’ I bawled, ‘check this out – I just did a great thing!’ Fishing for praise, fishing for praise. The fish weren’t biting however; I was sitting there on the riverbank, watching the float, watching for the slightest movement, and there wasn’t any. I never saw a float stay so still. ‘For God’s sake,’ I swore, ‘I must have chosen a stretch of river that had absolutely no fish in it. Like the river-equivalent of the Sahara Desert…’ Further up the river, I could see a fellow angler bringing in a big one – a really big one. My mouth dropped open – I had never seen such a big fish, thrashing and zigzagging madly back and forth as he slowly but surely brought it in. ‘What a whopper!’, I marvelled, ‘what a frikkin monster…’
Downstream a bunch of guys were also having lots of luck. They seemed to be getting bites just as soon as they cast – there was – as far as I could see – no gap at all between the act of casting and the act of pulling in a big fat trout. ‘However were they doing it?’ I wondered, ‘how did they get to be so lucky? Why did I have to choose the one stretch of river with no fish in it?’ Then it came to me that I wasn’t fishing in a river at all – I had been hallucinating. There was no river anywhere in sight and I was all alone in a frighteningly desolate rocky wasteland. As the man said, I was fishing in a dry gulch…