When did I last see him, the shadowy author of that strange book? It’s so hard to recall these things precisely. Did I ever really meet him – or did I invent him myself? Such questions may strike you as absurd, even ridiculous. Yet over the past ten years – has it really been that long? – I have learned that the ridiculous, in particular, has the right to exist.
Ten years ago: that’s when this story really began. A few harmless ideas, that’s all he thought they were – just ideas, seeking each other out along lines of magnetic force. And they grew, in the dark, in the shadows of his mind, in those secret rooms he never dreamt existed. Not once did he suspect they might escape his control, break down the doors and emerge into the light.
I daresay it seemed innocent enough at the start. A pastime, nothing more. There were times, I recall, when he wanted to abandon the work altogether – as if INCARNADINE could ever permit such a thing! But the turning point came with his studies into the Hermetic Art, the esoteric doctrines of Trismegistus and Dee – those books of forbidden knowledge and arcane formulas, that was where the ridiculous finally took root in his mind and began to bear fruit. Strange fruit, dark and unfamiliar; and as he consumed their flesh, they consumed his…
But I begin to wonder: was “S.M.Guariento” truly the author of this work, or merely a vehicle for forces he could not hope to contain? It seems preposterous that I know so little about him, even now. This morning, quite by chance, I found the following text scribbled in the margins of this journal, though I have no memory of writing it: “S.M.Guariento is a British writer currently employed full-time in the National Health Service, where his affinity for the absurd finds a natural home. He spends his spare time obsessively re-reading the works of J.G. Ballard, collecting vintage film posters and listening to electronic music. He also enjoys bragging of his family connection with the 14th Century artist Guariento di Arpo, which scholars have yet to disprove. INCARNADINE is his first novel.”
A meaningless jumble of improbable facts. Yet reading them back stirred in me a familiar sensation, almost of recognition. Perhaps he is me, and I am him? But this was merely a trick of the mind: the hobgoblin of memory, taunting me again with an invented past. The Amnesis has erased so many of our yesterdays that we will clutch at anything, no matter how far-fetched, as evidence of those forgotten times, those forgotten lives.
So if “S.M.Guariento” is not me, who is he? You smile. Perhaps you have begun to suspect, as I have, that “S.M.Guariento” is no more than a convenient fiction – a device, no more, through which his nominal creation, this “novel”, disguises the truth.
Yes, the truth! I must speak quickly. Already I feel myself starting to change.
Gather round, all of you. Listen to my words.
I know now the secret of secrets, the real story behind the story of INCARNADINE. The true order of genesis.
S.M. Guariento is not the author of INCARNADINE.
INCARNADINE is the author of S.M.Guariento.
(This piece was originally published on the site UPCOMING4.ME.)