Introducing Tom Viewer

14 Jan

viewer

Unexpected

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Thomas P. Viewer knelt faithfully at the makeshift altar he had himself prepared, acutely aware that the tectonic shift his newest business idea would almost certainly trigger could well be his proudest moment and perhaps establish him as a rising star, an outside the box, inside the beltway, outside the loop, garden variety, home on the range, rather bashful, peculiarly American strategist. He was growing sure of it. Prostrate, and moving a medium-sized scented candle over to the far left side of the abandoned sock drawer he was using as night storage for his overwritten manuscript with his right hand while his left was busy moving to the right side he could already taste the stench of carnal greed welling up inside well-tailored and enchantingly coiffed occupiers who would like to imagine themselves in partnership with one of the snazziest trademarks in the global business world, and would be willing to ante up disposable cash and hard eyeballs with the zeal of a hot buttered popcorn concessioneer to get there.

This new breed of traders stank of fresh kerosene on a cold winter day. Numb frozen fingers fumbling at the future. Staring at his own mind's dark flicker, he shuddered with the same flush of those who would scream bloody murdering tongues that this ridiculous notion must surely be one of the most well-telegraphed bait and switch hoaxes to define the day trader market in decades, ready to fell the recently arrived, and the tall timber of a few old tethered hardliners alike, this new Presidentially-appointed battalion of frontline soldiers called the Sweet Investor Class, run by one Galloway Sweet, a punctual man, old-school, but hard as nails, now barreling across this new century battleground with all chambers loaded, while others will of course laugh an equally haughty laugh in declaring themselves never to be caught dead shoveling their own hard-earned dollars at this most celebrated of celebrity dealmakers, while remaining secretly dedicated fans week after week, the chosen national drama, and nobody really wanted to defy those Pynchon House claws that strike at the quick and the dread of every viewer trapped in the now apparent, national hostage situation.

Viewer’s fate seem decreed that someone else would always grab the goods, the glory, the alms of genius, while he would stumble down in defeat while on display, a bewildering talent of being ahead of his time, and the conviction of indifference to the whole affair of original thought, until it was gone only to come along again for somebody else to make a buck…
The PR crowd would love the stakes—the accountants fearing the moment when the sleeping giant wakes. Past experiences however taught him he could never assume others would grasp the sheer simplicity, cunning and beauty of an idea which would shake an American industry to its core and send shockwaves across the national consciousness while still being flayed on the examination table in boardrooms and town halls everywhere. He also knew that his idea would clearly squeeze the whatever's left of the nectar from the stone cold wisdoms of the day, as well as arouse the interest of the usual suspects and system-testing fruit flies eager to plunge into any gold rush vein in the scheme to exploit to maximum potential. Sweet was bitter.

"It's the perfect Ponzi scheme," agreed Merkle Monitor, as the idea left Tom's mouth for the first time since the day it popped into his head a week or so before. First time to someone else who was not his wife. Monitor was no slouch in the sudden awareness department. But even he had to think about it and try to poke holes into the scheme, before the sheer brilliance of it struck him like a flying shard off a cold chisel. Thomas himself thought of it by accident actually, if any thought can be presumed an accident.

"Pure evil. But all the hooks and payoffs are there. This is America, after all. Land of the Yankee Dollar. Selling the glamour of big television to stockholders across the nation, across the world, over the Internet. Buy in cheap. Gotta watch the show though. Ratings are king. All by the numbers. You own. You watch. Others watch. Others buy. A scheme which depends on TV eyeballs for success, selling itself."

It was an idea whose time had come. Money was to be made. Big Money. Most of his ideas did nothing of the sort. Viewer's fate seem decreed that someone else would always grab the goods, the glory, the alms of genius, while he would stumble down in defeat while on display, a bewildering talent of being ahead of his time, and the conviction of indifference to the whole affair of original thought, until it was gone only to come along again for somebody else to make a buck...

“Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove,” he would now argue in conscious recoil at his recent outburst, mute and tormented by a fractured personality sustaining an argument that had fried many a creative egg, on impulse, over the tepid years since his youthful first awakening. The first of several he would experience in such a way they would probably get their own glorifer phrase if he ever got it into his head to analyze the theme, and come up with something like the Belinda Carlisle Renaissance.
He wasn't sure if touting the notion of a consumer driven media in terms of the ownership society would help build personal character, or his writing resumé. Without a doubt, regardless of the intellectual pretensions of any given season, and there stretched many over his decades, Thomas had always hated that damning phrase: ahead of his time, and more often than not, its fully hatched personally tweaked variation; something along the lines of "Oh Thomas, don't be so hard on yourself, you're simply ahead of your time." Predictably, our friend Thomas took little pleasure in this special knowledge, and secretly despised those urbane comments frameless friends and family would contribute to his misery in these times of defeat. To him this gentrified characterization, however well-intentioned, was just another nasty bone-rotting sentiment which buttressed his life as a perpetual failure, a capitalist without profit, a motif without motive, a muster without magnificence. Stinking, sticky flesh-scorching black asphalt is that paved road of good intentions, death by politeness, despair verified. By his own snide calculations, Thomas knew not to fully trust those faulty witnesses with anything more than a passing hallmark greeting.

In the beginning, he had been a natural. A rising boy scout. A good-natured architype of his inherited genes and a motherly discipline who pursued early the glistening avenues that frequently smile upon such fine sons until eventually the proverbial realities on both sides of the tracks caught up with him, and shattered his personality into pieces of jigsaw only an idiot savant could hope to repair. Yet, despite his past, congeniality as he now knew it was a bugger confirmed by no less an authority than the philosophical bard Bertrand Russell (who also had done the math), even though Mr. Viewer did practice whatever casual sort of affability its initiates required when at all possible.

Failure creates its own designer intelligence. He had taken to his own math problems early on, thanks to exposure to sports statistics, and could provide superb proofs to keenly interested parties (where there is no faith, no exposition), but to Thomas, there was never any clear context from which to compete on anything close to a level playing field, and that singular criterion was the device his considerable talents demanded. Quick to point out a peculiarity to those few acquaintances who lent a salient ear, this rather stark absence of a level playing field in human affairs, contrary to centuries of being created equal in rhetorical America, was his dead soldier, his missing link, his cross to bear, his missing coin collection, for like anything in his own life's aspiration, raw inspiration was the charm that set men free. Without elbow room from which to work this poetically raw inspiration all of life's grand illusions turned dull, dark, dirty, ruefully despondent to the unique transforming spirit and work ethic of one Thomas Paine Viewer, first son of Emmaline Paine and Herbert Noel Viewer. And by extension, of course might he be so bold, to anyone clever enough to fall under the swoon of one's own gut-wrenching life-affirming inspiration. But here, my friends, was one man who refused to be bought for a pittance. He'd rather give away the farm than to exploit it for less than its flint-striking value. While no proponent of the "great man" theory, specifically as espoused by the old goat Ayn Rand, herself, with its fuel-burning distortions of judge and jury, Thomas was determined to become one himself, a great man, just in the nick of time, and by turning the tables upside down. He preferred it precisely this way, and he had his reasons. Solid, robust reasons, he mused, calculating all the way back to year zero.

"Tis better to give freely than to harbor resentment against swindlers, resentment that is sure to arrive on the next bus," he would postulate to himself before erupting in a loud discourse, usually to his wife, Sybil, listing all the swindlers and degrees of swindle his mind could generate before he would fall silent again, convicted by his own honest words, and considerably less a measurement of genteel manners for his troubles.

"Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove," he would now argue in conscious recoil at his recent outburst, mute and tormented by a fractured personality sustaining an argument that had fried many a creative egg, on impulse, over the tepid years since his youthful first awakening. The first of several he would experience in such a way they would probably get their own glorifer phrase if he ever got it into his head to analyze the theme, and come up with something like the Belinda Carlisle Renaissance.

Viewer's own repeated failures at the money game had worn him to a frazzle until he felt like a prime number, divisible only by one and himself. Sure, he had been a faithful employee, an industrious worker, responsible and adept, over and above the call of duty when he chose to work outside the hearth, for someone else, at less pay than he felt he must earn to justify his departure from the imagined life, as he called it. As a hireling he was a success by nearly any measure but his own. But many of his social choices had quietly ostracized him from the herd. Always willing to take chances with opportunity and payoff, Thomas Viewer had left the herd early in life in order to better comprehend the agencies of those who were born without a fair shake, born outside the successful herd, condemned to drift, as the balladeer once sang, or else be kept from drifting. Not truly a thrillseeker in the common parlance of the times but driven to succeed where he counted it most important, he nevertheless shunned the national safety net and golden ladder of success to seek out the complacent and the lost. He wanted to help them more than he wanted to help himself, or his own family. He wanted to read between the lines.

Writers and talkers were a nickel a noseful. Who cares? Nobody cares. The voices. The haunting voices. The shame of isolation. The tears of rage and loneliness. But I must, he said to himself. This is my work. I must. This is my calling. The demons taunted. But he hated his recorded voice more than he felt pressured to capture his dazzling angelic rhetoric. The wretched accusations of "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!" and other demonic voices crowding inside his head would always taunt and fears of self-aggrandizement would drown out any meek aspirations of theatre anywhere else but in the now.
A glimpse of the old Chinese mirror he bought recently at a junk sale reflects heavy gray irises and dark sags, a conflicted hulk of awkward flesh not in step with these Dorian times, a frayed and yellowing montage of a man, not quite fifty, a floundering ward of his vaguely supportive but long-suffering Sybil. Effort after effort in planning and executing a "can't miss" business plan which would leave him free after a few short years to write himself out of the mental anguish he had accumulated over a lifetime of oscillating temptations had made him suspicious of almost all the beliefs he had inherited as a young lad who'd believed, if he ever believed anything written or uttered, was that he was born to greatness, whatever that meant.

"Defining one's terms. That is the benchmark of the gregarious mind. Let me explain," and off he'd zoom into a long, rambling exposition of mental links and thought processes, sweeping genealogies of linguistic foci he had been constructing into a magnificent architecture, his voice rising and falling, speeding up and slowing down at precisely the impact word, clever winks of language springing through the air punctuated only by an occasional sigh that signaled his realization that here he was again, merely the protracted windbag, making solitary speeches instead of writing for a cause, whole, beautiful, riveting phrases lost to eternity unless he wrote them down in notebooks, right now, losing the gift of flow, (or managed to turn on the recorder he had purchased just for these occasions), these exciting moments in time, where flood level clarity was all that mattered, untarnished clarity to himself, and at least one other person, that of his beloved Sybil, and she only cared because he did. To her, it was just Thomas. Nobody else really mattered. Nobody else really cared. Writers and talkers were a nickel a noseful. Who cares? Nobody cares. The voices. The haunting voices. The shame of isolation. The tears of rage and loneliness. But I must, he said to himself. This is my work. I must. This is my calling. The demons taunted. But he hated his recorded voice more than he felt pressured to capture his dazzling angelic rhetoric. The wretched accusations of "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!" and other demonic voices crowding inside his head would always taunt and fears of self-aggrandizement would drown out any meek aspirations of theatre anywhere else but in the now.

Capitalism has a forensic nature. Never forget that. The rich already have. Capitalism is the purest form of collectivism ever practiced. Thomas continued to search for a profound opening statement for his novel, to measure up to the greatest of them. Before he knew it he had written over nine hundred pages of opening statements.
Unfortunately, having based any exposition worth repeating—from a den of thieves to a face-stuffing roomful of scheming marketeers—on a host of supporting axioms and cross-referenced proofs in the pudding, whittling down these fine fractals and illuminations into a form he might communicate to others was never front burner material for Thomas. His intellectual proclivities were closer to the wild-eyed urchinesque Wittgenstein than the scholarly Popper, and he knew the difference mattered where it counted most, in the public's eye. But of course there was this factor of a public shyness which had never been overcome unless he was and he knew he was—in charge—a condition he had achieved many times, and excelled. He was a good follower here good leadership existed, but he was always anxious to move out of the crowd, out of the shadow, out from incompetent leadership.

Only his wife was privy to the inflationary nature of these matters her husband deemed literary and thus fair game for new possibilities, but she in all good graces was not heavily favored with a talent for long-winded philosophical discussions. Mr. and Mrs. Viewer nourished themselves on opposite poles of the literary and philosophical scale. Neither read each other's bedside books, loathed the other's tastes in reading material generally. However, the well-kept secret to their lengthy marriage was her superabundance of listener's intelligence. For this Thomas was forever grateful. He proved it by sticking around during the hard times. Sybil proved herself by sticking around, giving her all, and comforting Thomas as if he were the only man worth his salt. Few friends, few as they were and from either loyalty base in the Viewer three-sixty, understood this nearly unbreachable devotion to each other.

"I can believe anything, as long as it is incredible," wrote Oscar Wilde. Thomas liked to think he didn't make such distinctions, but of course he did, but what's even more predictable, he loved Oscar's line. It wouuld have made a great opening statement for his novel. Flourish and write. Write and flourish. In the beginning was the end. Capitalism has a forensic nature. Never forget that. The rich already have. Capitalism is the purest form of collectivism ever practiced. Thomas continued to search for a profound opening statement for his novel, to measure up to the greatest of them. Before he knew it he had written over nine hundred pages of opening statements.

GT

© 2005 - 2013, Gabriel Thy. All rights reserved.

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S A M P L E X

"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""


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