Form and Content (Calbirro Week No.3)

Conscious that ‘Calbirro Week’ has consisted, thus far, of a paltry two postages (see below), I offer both the promise that it will be extended into a second (possibly equally fruitless) week, along with the following observations.

In the second of the two aforementioned pieces I shook off the celebratory spirit in order to launch an attack of sorts, accusing Mr Calbirro of staging a worthless stunt which sullied the memory of his earlier, more heartfelt creative methodology. I stand by these words. But how do I stand? I am, perhaps, a little edgy. One leg is firm, the other trembles: waiting for the off. Captured on camera, caught in aspic, trapped in time: I am frozen and proud. But life moves on – and so might I.

For the moment, however, you catch me standing, still. One ear is cocked towards the sound of a distant voice. The voice is Mr. Calbirro’s. It is being transmitted, I think, by radio. A wall of fuzz stands between us. It always does.

‘You misunderstand me,’ says the voice. ‘You imagine that my project has everything to do with form. My novels were once printed on toilet paper. Another was printed on a shower curtain. My last work appeared on a dress. The world notes the form, talks about the form, writes about the form, argues over the form. They say that the content is secondary, that the project lies in the form. But does it? You are wise enough to know better – but your confession demeans you. You have not read my latest novel because it is printed on an expensive dress. You wish, no doubt, that it was printed, once again, on toilet paper. This work, however, could never have been produced in that form. No. This work had to be printed on a dress. The content demanded the form from the very beginning.  The two are tied together, forever. So: expenses got out of hand. I am sorry for this, but not as sorry as you want me to be. For it is how it is. The story had to go on a dress. The project, meanwhile, remains the same. Nothing is sullied, nothing is perverted. The story develops as it always did. The content emerges and creates the form. The novel is born.’

Fuzz envelops the voice, and it is gone. And so, for now, am I…


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