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Rated: E · Critique · Writing · #1015039
I was dared to criticise a fic of mine that I hated, through another's POV.
Positive and negative points, elements needed to the elaboration of a balanced review, just as stated by the rules, will not be seen here. This is, instead, an anti-review, in which the multicoloured steps of the critique give way to the monochromatic plane of derision. No softening feature is viable when referring to a text in which the author herself eliminates, systematically, all possible redemption.

The initial phrase opens a series of mistakes. Quotation taken from a famous comic strip, it is inexorably repeated at the beginning of each paragraph, in an attempt to confer rhythm to the events. The humorous quality of the strip is lost in the pretentious seriousness of the tale. What could have been a delightful parody is disintegrated by an ambition towards a higher literature, full of clichés and puerile paradoxes which affect some great wisdom that cannot be found. What we see is an overindulgence of inversions, metaphors and stylistic effects whose only attribute is to bestow to the text a theatrical tone, instead of writing it.

The text is organised, or better, disorganised, in a patchwork of incomplete and disconnected paragraphs, sewn together by means of a fragile line. There is no continuity, no beginning nor end. The plot is null, a digression in stories whose only point in common is the stolen phrase, which has got no meaning. In order to understand the text, it would be necessary an initial chapter that was never written, or a final chapter that could provide us with some glue with which to gather all the pieces of this jigsaw. Flashbacks and flashforwards run into each other, at times superposed, mixing themselves with the present, always without warning. It is a similar tactic to Gérard de Nerval's celebrated Sylvie, but without the subtlety and the logical concatenation that characterises it. The impression we have got is of an album whose photos were taken in different places and epochs, portraying equally different people who bear no relation with each other. Even an album is not able to express the incoherence inherent to the tale, since the photos share the unity of being in the same film. No, the text is instead a collection of loose notes strung together by chance, written maybe on the same greasy napkins and torn fliers of the first paragraph. Maybe the protagonist of the aforementioned piece is the author herself, writing, with invisible ink, her spiral of useless dreams, in which time and space fracture and melt with one another, interchangeable. Just like the words.

The nature conferred to the tale is one of an exasperating abstraction. Of the personages’ physical description, almost nothing is revealed. Even their actions and thoughts seem to decline the need of a corporeal agent. For instance, let’s analyse the part in which a person strolls up the streets of the city. One cannot see the personage. One cannot hear his steps. His walk is one of a ghost who leaves no trace of his presence behind, inspiring no empathy in the reader. All that is related to people is immaterial and fleeting, the tangible reality left to the objects alone. Secondary personages as they are, they overthrow and suppress the protagonists, seizing their identities. A person strolling up the streets of the city becomes the promenade of the streets across the city.

At times, the personages materialise in the tale, but never as complete images: they emerge only as body parts, like badly-taken photos. There is a hand that writes, a foot over the pedal, arms crossed over a table, legs that open. As soon as they appear, they fade back into the hazy atmosphere of the tale, be it because they are omitted by the author, be it because we erase them from our minds. We erase them, deliberately or unconsciously, since the actions they carry out are either irrelevant or incongruent, motivated by some tortuous and flawed logic. Attempting to order them, the brain removes the discrepancies and, along with them, the personages. What is left to the reader is an abstruse and markedly idiosyncratic text, and one that delights precisely in that.

The preciousness and the pedantry so celebrated by the extinct Symbolist Movement stand out from the text. However, in contrast to Mallarmé's exactness, the thread of the story is lost amidst a hermetic symbolism which recurs throughout the pages in an obsessive pattern, weaving labyrinths with no entrances nor exits, of a fantastic imagery that borders on the absurd. The reader finds himself, therefore, impregnated of an unpleasant feeling when trying to decipher, without the aid of dictionaries and grammars, an alien tongue that he has never learnt.

The author's stance hesitates between religion and scepticism, down-to-earth segments succeeding idealistic ones, the profusion of adjectives of one contrasting to the concrete dryness made of nouns of the other. In both of them, countless references to people and books that we do not know to be real or invented. The uncertain mood is also seen in the randomness with which the author grants importance to each narrative element. Something seemingly insignificant may become essential in the course of the text, just as something vital can prove later to be irrelevant. When finally it seems that we are able to predict her strategy, that we have found the entrance to the labyrinth, the author takes the solidness from under our feet and forces us to go back to the primary state of doubt. And when, wary, we expect her to do the said manoeuvre, she abstains from it, disturbing us even more. Then we ourselves shut the doors of interpretation, sceptical of our own findings.

Who knows, to the well-versed in astrology, mythology, theology and other -logies, the tale reveals itself to be devoid of insurmountable labyrinths, of doors to be found, traced in a clear and cohesive design. Maybe it shows itself in multiple layers of yet more numerous meanings. Or maybe the explanation is simpler than that: there is no layer to the text. Solely because there is no possible interpretation to it. No matter how much we advance or retreat in the reading of the text, it neither adds to nor subtracts anything from us. It is the reading per se, the act of reading, as seeing the fog and, at the same time, not seeing it, for the fog is nothing but a blindfold.

Consequently, the tale is not a tale, but a mere curtain of written words that aims only at filling the pages and laughing at unsuspecting readers who try to see through it. Attempts that are frustrated one by one, the obscurity of the symbols and the incoherence of the story making the barrier unassailable. Each paragraph, a new wall that rises in front of us. It is only too late that we realise ourselves trapped within six walls, hostages to a non-existent story without beginning nor end, albeit one that repeats itself at each start of paragraph.

Overall, a tale elaborated only to trick the reader, only to make him waste time in the attempt to build, with the scattered pieces, a coherent whole that has never existed. And also to evoke, with his involuntary help, the bricks of the cell meant to imprison him, shaped from the images that appear innocently in the first paragraph: the cube and the spiral.


Author's Notes

I was dared to write a negative review of any fic of mine. However, that was a bit too restrictive and, since I love to stretch the themes of the stories, I decided to write a review of a fic I have not written. Writing this piece was very amusing. Maybe I got too amused.

Anyway, since it refers back to a non-existent fic, there're elements that're just hinted at, as if the reader already knew what the review is talking about. Ah, and you also need to know that I've got a certain obsession regarding cubes and spirals. And eyes, for that matter. But I don't think I've mentioned eyes in here. Hn...
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