How many Gordon Comstock’s are there out amongst us? I speak, of course, of the protagonist in Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying. Comstock was an ad man who willingly ostracized himself from his heinous profession with the idea of being a poet pursuing truth, as opposed to sticking as an ad man. Circumstances eventually brought Comstock back into the advertising fold. But I evoke Comstock because, as I was shamefully trying to light up a cigarette (a habit that, regrettably, comes with drink), I was recently recognized on the streets by a neighbor. The neighbor introduced me to a friend of his and then proceeded to roundly mock me for producing a “highly literate play” called Something an Alligator written by a guy that’s “read too much.”
The neighbor, I should point out, had criticized me for daring to make the next play “more accessible.” I replied at the time, What’s wrong with this? I was a guy who dared to challenge an audience and learned from the results. Bombard the audience with too much and they will draw blood. Thus, behavior should be crystal-clear. Hence, my current research efforts to make the next play right.
So this neighbor, who collects books and moonlights as a sedentary book collector, hopes to draw my blood. But he makes me think of Comstock because, like Comstock, I’ve remained idealistic, but, unlike Comstock, I’ve learned from my results. And I’m determined to presevere just to spite the bastards.
How you like them apples?