The Greatest Story Never Told


Posted by in February's Magazine

Always begin at the ending. That’s what my Da-da told me. So if you’re sitting uncomfortably, I’ll finish.

For as it was in the beginning, so shall it be at the end. Nothingness shall be restored to the throne, and neverness – a word favoured by Jorge Louis Borges – will be the sole witness to an awful, sad, beautiful, impossible, despairing eternity. The rest, as the man said, is silence.

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Say a word for Polly May. She can’t tell the night from the day.

But thanks for those words from someone who looks like he was sicked up by Beelzebub after devouring the souls of the damned followed by a naughty Nigella dessert made from hat jugglers topped with a shout-y folk singer named after a kitchen sink drama who should have the plug pulled.

Listen, though, Lou, please don’t make any more music with Metallica.

Events, dear boy, events, you see, conspire to part me from muse and mojo and coffee money. I am without ideas and robbed of time and even my imagination refuses to play tricks. The prognosis is bad. And we’re completely out of semi-skimmed milk. Then it comes to me.

What?
Nothing.
Eh?
It arrives disguised as something but you can just tell it’s nothing.

Said the Bard – not our ain, always trying to get your knickers off, but the one calling again from Avon: ‘Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.

So there we are.
Where?
Look, I don’t claim to have the GPS reading but I’d guess we’re somewhere between the rumbling belly of the beast and the whale road.

The story of nothing – one is tempted to call it the greatest story never told – confounds narrative, characterisation, plot device, authorial ego, celebrity memoir, mummy porn, hash-tags and all that jizz, bookending (as it does) the history of the universe and life and all the inconsequential stuff with which we almost sentient beings try to fill it.

It’s what was and what will be and it more than meets its quota of the goings on, or non-goings on, around us. Contemplate that, if you would be so good, as I pound out this Morse code distress signal on my laptop.

Say a word for Jimmy Brown. He ain’t got nothing at all.

Zip it, Uncle Lou.

Existentialists, nihilists and, of course, mathematicians embrace nothing-ology. Ideas of nullity and void, a spiritual black hole, the mortal vanishing point, or the plain absurdity of life and death in an indifferent universe abound.

“Beyond the touchline, there is nothing,” said Jacques Derrida. His views on the offside rule or the case for goal line technology go unrecorded.

Tennis players simply refuse to confront the word. A score of nil is labelled as love, deriving from the French word l’oeuf for egg, being the symbol for nothing. Thus if Andy Murray hasn’t exactly gone from zero to hero this sporting year, he has freed himself from the yolk or yoke – if you will – of l’oeuf, and won, along with some shiny medals and a grand slam, our love.

In a nulliverse
Yet, as Keats wrote in When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be: ‘…then on the shore/Of the wide world I stand alone, and think/Till love and fame to nothingness do sink’.

And say a word for Ginger. He walks with his head to the ground.

Lou Reed and Frank Zappa never got on, you know. Alpha weasels both.

Nought is a frightening concept, likely signifying failure or else that which can’t be known. Our favourite state assassin James Bond would rather not deal with it, preferring to drink his Martini stirred than contemplate his own dispatch – hence the double “oh” seven. The o isn’t even a 0.

Meanwhile back on the set of the very first Hollywood talkie – The Jazz Singer – Al Jolson said, by way of opening gambit: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Some say we exist within a nulliverse, that the fabric of the cosmos could unravel at any moment, and – dare I pull a wistful face such as might be worn by Prof Brian Cox while drawing planets in the sand with his stick – maybe the out-and-out oddity of being is best captured by John Cage in those 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence in which he recorded a pianist sat motionless at a Steinway.

The distance then between something and nothing is no more than say the time it took from the opening of this penultimate line to its close.

Oh, sweet nuthin’.

2 responses to “The Greatest Story Never Told”

  1. mwheelaghan says:

    Brilliant! Just read this quote and thought you may enjoy it, Mr R ;o) "Only those who are lost in error follow the poets." – Qur'an 26.224, trans. M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

  2. Horne Halley says:

    I know about this great story never told. I don't understand this story tell me in easy words. I am waiting for next posts also.
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