I am sure I’ve never mentioned Alatan Zore. He is, of all things, an essayist! If you find poets self absorbed and insufferable, trust me in this, essayists are worse. It is also entirely impossible to make a living purely from writing essays. Thus your essayist who wishes to avoid destitution, starvation and even honest toil is forced to foist themselves upon other genres.
So it was with Alatan Zore. He decided that as he had opinions, he would not merely place them in front of the public in the form of essays, he would inflict them upon folk in person.
Now the poet might indeed have a message. But a poet tries to entertain. A poet tries to create beauty, to move you to mirth, or tears, or even to love. The essayist merely bludgeons you with their opinions, brooks no argument, and treats you as if you are barely sentient should you have the temerity to put forward some other point of view.
Now obviously I might be in some way biased, but frankly I’d rather work with mime artists. Indeed in all candour I’d rather worth with the usual run of drunken and lecherous musicians than with an essayist. Still, it would never do if we were all the same. Even a poet needs somebody to look down upon.
The problem with Alatan Zore was he had an overwhelming sense of his own genius, matched only by his sense of entitlement. It was not enough that people read his essays; he expected them to change their behaviour because of his firmly propounded opinions. He expected folk to set aside long held beliefs merely because this week he pronounced that the eating of vegetables was unethical, or that humanity had evolved from a particularly unpleasant worm. (When every educated person knows that countless millennia ago Idomeneus led 80 ships across the depths of space to settle our world of Domisa.)
Now I suppose you’re thinking to yourself, “Tallis is merely jealous. This Zore chap has been stealing his patrons.”
I openly admit this is not entirely untrue. Certain patrons are always vulnerable to persons of his ilk. The problem was compounded when he became a playwright. Now to the best of my knowledge he never wrote a play that was performed. But on the strength of writing plays (that never came to the stage) he became a director, and thus he would give other, ‘lesser’ playwrights the advantage of his superior skills and wisdom. Because of his reputation the plays he directed always got good audiences as the intellectually insecure flocked to be seen at them. Others rose on his coat tails. He made several leading ladies famous, one for merely standing there in a state of dishabille desperately trying to maintain her modesty as a dozen stagehands turned the handle to power the fan which blasted air from beneath the stage.
Now some have hinted that he had an improper relationship with various of his leading ladies. Frankly I doubt it. As far as I could tell he regarded them as empty-headed and expendable pawns, important only in so far as they advanced his career and enhanced his reputation. This isn’t to say that the hints weren’t based on a darker reality. Although a lifelong bachelor I know for a fact that he fathered at least seven children. But in his own words, “Why should I pay to rear them, when their mothers have perfectly good husbands already who are more than capable of funding another child or two?”
Now folk might ask, ‘does justice sleep?’ Is fate dozing when she should be acting?
To this I can only point to the first stirrings of the kindly ones’ revenge. Alatan Zore is an essayist and it is by his essays that posterity will judge him. I note with gentle amusement that already a young essayist has come to public attention. Tilia Veel, a young lady of wit and perception, has published her first essay. This has placed her firmly in the public gaze. In it she not merely mocked the work of Alatan Zore, she crucified him. She skewered him on the stiletto of her intellect. In one brilliant essay she managed to portray him as a self-opinionated, ill-read, ill-educated loon. In ten years time, if he’s read at all, it will merely be by connoisseurs of the essayists’ art who wish to join Tilia in her mockery.
The fact that Tilia is one of his unacknowledged daughters merely adds to my delight. The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine.
Should you wish to read more from Tallis, then it is easily arranged. The wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard await.