A Manual for Sons

by ahlade

Feedback! Yes! Yes!Yes!

A Manual for Sons.

Lex gets a lesson in undoing patriarchy. Feedback-- it is the headiest herbage around, and entirely legal! So, hit me! The stuff in bold is from Barthelme,D., A Manual for Sons, 1982.

Your true task, as a son, is to reproduce every one of the enormities, but in attenuated form.

The words impress themselves on the gray parchment of his brain, all bleached, scrubbed, and spongy through the combined action of the poison and its antidote. Black ants creeping and marking their territory of fresh conceptual confusion. Giving him ideas.

You must become your father, but a paler, weaker version of him.

Yes, inadequacy is a big theme with him-always has been. It's overt expression through fast cars, the intricacies of fencing moves, the daring shown on the polo field, to excesses in illegal herbage... follows him, cuckolding him even before he's wed.

The enormities go with the job, but close study will allow you to perform the job less well than it has previously been done, thus moving toward a golden age of decency, quiet and calm fevers.

Perhaps he needs acceptance now. Forgiveness. The understanding that he will never outrun his devils, and that he should just let them run all over him, marking his back with the dusty footprints of the years of pursuit. Let them run on - hitch his wagon to their fleetness. Let them lead...

Your contribution will not be a small one but 'small' is one of the concepts you should shoot for...

He has never shot for small. Should he start now? Is this caressing concept of soft defeat a planted plot? Would it seed complacency and curb vaulting ambition? Did he perhaps plant Barthelme in a carefully planned bibliography of deceit?

Begin by whispering in front of the mirror for thirty minutes a day or get someone to do it for you.

Anti-motivational speech. One of the drones could do it. 'Lex, you are less...'

Then choose one of your most deeply held beliefs-- that your honors and awards have something to do with you and abjure it.

' "You have no idea what I'm capable of. I have no idea what I'm capable of." Or that I am capable at all. Your shadow is so big, and I have never trodden in the sun. Some say it blinds you if you look at it too closely. I don't know. However, I do know that seers who see my walk away from you die cold and withered.'

Friends will help you abjure it and can be telephoned if you backslide.

Friends? He thinks hard and remembers a sulky, full mouth of great beauty, one that recycles rough-edged lies in sequence. Then he thinks he cannot afford to backslide, for his friends cannot be so easily telephoned.

You see the pattern, put it into practice.

Maybe he should start by not putting it into practice. Because putting it into practice, direct, damaging, unsubtle, sledgehammer action - that is a 'father' thing, and he must not give into that pattern. It must stop. Perhaps a sort of Buddhist inaction, a protestation against time and space.

Fatherhood can be, if not conquered, at least 'turned down' in this generation- by the combined efforts of all of us together.

Some people blow up their parents, you only jailed yours.


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