After I’ve finished writing this I’m going to go for a shower, and then spend my Friday working. I’m aware that this is something of a rarity for me (working, that is, not showering), but I have felt inspired of late and I think it’s time I put some of that inspiration to good use. The only minor problem is that this inspiration has decided to reveal itself in a rather challenging guise, namely, rewriting the entire surrealist manifesto as if were a speech given on the eve of war.
Initially, I wanted to draft it as a campaign speech, but it turns out that if Breton ever decided to run for office his policies would be more akin to the Monster Raving Loony party than any other; he could generously be called a visionary. Then again, there’s an awful lot of people who got themselves elected or brought about change just by banging on about dreams.
I’m hoping that I can do it (there’s no question I can) using only the words in the manifesto - try and keep it as pure as possible. I’ll allow myself a little leeway however; I’m fairly certain Breton doesn’t mention a single dictator, fascist, or despot in person, plus I think it might need a little more empty rhetoric here and there. Then again, I could always just begin a war on ideals, and ideas. After all, this would still be a true revolution of values.
I know, I know, I’ve watched a little too much West Wing recently (though I’m not sure you can ever have too much) and this has scorched my bones with the fire of fervour. I’m prone to influence, particularly from my flavour-of-the-month television series, but hell this time, what it portrays and what I want are just that bit closer than usual. Granted, I barely know the first thing about politics, particularly not British politics, or indeed anything other than a gloss over the American system, but what I can do is write.
I make no concessions here, I’m pretty good at it. If you’ll permit me a tangent, us English tend to have a hard time dealing with ego, both foreign and domestic. We shy away from accolade with false modesty, because it’d be ‘unbecoming’ or ‘ungentlemanly’ to ever truly accept that the fruits of our labours may just be how good we are at the labours themselves. We pour scorn on those who revel in their own success because we’ve spent so long cultivating graceful losers we’ve forgotten what winning feels like. We hide from victory.
We need a true revolution of values.
There is nothing wrong with a little ego. There is nothing wrong with a little pride. There is nothing wrong with being the best. False ego is as bad as false modesty, perhaps worse; ego for ego’s sake is insufferable. But that does not mean that we cast ego out altogether. If you are good at something, take pride in it. Be proud of yourself and let others be proud of you. Don’t hide it. Don’t shy away from it. Don’t diminish it. Revel in it.
If you are good at writing, be good at writing. If you are good sports, be good at sports. If you are a good friend then be the best damn friend you ever were. If you achieve one hundred percent then celebrate it one hundred percent. Every single percent. Enjoy your successes.
If you don’t, you’ll end up writing for the sake of writing, or worse yet, writing to formula, churning out pointless five-thousand word essays entitled ‘Death is the road to awe’ just to make it feel like it’s something worth writing about.
Posted on Friday, 16 March
Tagged as: Prose Speechwriting Manifesto Ego Breton writing