14 May 2009


The weakness of her flesh starts it. Forget passion. This is bones, ligaments, nerves, viscera, screaming in anarchy. Sickness--funny word to sum up complete subjugation. Pain, that overwhelming force, the only exercise her brain experiences--finally subsides, leaving a preoccupation with its existence as real as the damp of a tidal flat. She walks an empty beach of self-absorption.

Thunder clouds appear, and turn into a season of storms, perpetually pounding the beach to pocks. She writes letters. Not belles lettres, but hell's letters. Anger gives her a sense of impending doom, a prescience of wrongness of the ways of progress. She sees this wrongness everywhere, as the grains of sand.

She flings her thunderbolts everywhere. Her beach looks like a mined field, but her bolts are piercing as red jelly frogs.

One day between storms, she labels her state: Crisis of irrelevancy.

Letters become more strident, take on a full, old-fashioned clarion tone. She is a suffragette chained to the Hyde Park gate with no policemen to carry her off, no photographers and the only onlookers: pigeons. No martyrdom possible when the campaign is a private one, and the non-engagement of others as easy as dropping a piece of paper.

Then there are the faces of those she visits after not seeing them for a year. In the phone calls that she doesn't know how to end, she next labels her state Totally Confirmed when she hears the nails pounding the coffin lid down on an Interesting Person. Evelyn taps on her keyboard hm'ing to the handset on her desk, Chris slurps spaghetti, the dwindling others just wait for a decent time to say they are late for the same appointments she always enlisted at certain times.

The metamorphosis is complete. The result is panic, an old horror of hers: being trapped by a bore.
She begins to explore the types of bores, and writes:
  1. Drug bores. Nasty when refused companionship/audience. Foodies included.
  2. Sick bores, whose physical or mental pain makes sickness the abiding interest in pre-death life, a length of time which is always interminable.
  3. Religious bores. Fanaticland, from evangelists to tennis and film verbal replay machines.
  4. Has-been bores. Historical achievers, whose achievement is history.
  5. Bore holes. Those who never had a substance of their own, so suck it from any popular source. The quicksand of boreland.
  6. . . .
This defining of bores becomes engrossing. She identifies The Twelve Major Types. She elaborates on the myriad of variations. She draws charts and devises quizzes to track the Stages of an Interesting Person to Ten-Point Bore.

So involved does she become in observation and research, and writing, that she becomes too busy to communicate with anyone else until she finishes, when her work has become a Book; and she finds publishers.
In the USA, the book is launched as The Poison Personality: How to Stop Being a Bore in 7 Days.

The Poison Personality reaches the New York Times Bestseller list in less than thirty days and then sits in number 3 position as if the list is stuck, until a challenge is made that three points of the Ten-Point Bore and all of the trademarked behavior modification Plan are in essence, translations from G. J. Taylor's 1984 paper in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, "Psychotherapy with the boring patient". See for instance, a few sentences from Taylor's abstract, and the brilliance of the little book that tops the charts will be clear:
Boredom is an unpleasant affective state which may be evoked by monotonous sensory input and reduction of an individual's internal instinctual and fantasy activity. Certain difficult patients have the capacity to evoke boredom in their psychotherapists and unless technical modifications are used, therapy quickly reaches an impasse and may be terminated on the grounds that the patient is 'not psychologically-minded.' Chronically boring patients have an impaired capacity for symbolization and can be identified by their non-symbolic communicative style. This reflects an inner struggle with primitive mental states due to fixation at, or regression to, the paranoid-schizoid developmental position.
The week after the Taylor controversy, the New York Post quotes "an unsubstantiated source" to reveal that the author of The Poison Personality was the ghost writer of the EZYreed Uplift Bible™, and sales rise to Number 1.

"A triumph of insight .... Exposes a raw nerve string of insecurity in everyone." - The New York Times

"Updike should read this." - The Village Voice

"A threat to all people of sincere faith who have a duty to spread the word." - The Watchtower

"If only it worked." - Rowan Pelling, The Independent on Sunday

Though there were a few scathing reviews, they must have only spurred sales. The book has now been translated into 125 languages and is sold in 132 titles. In Australia it is titled: The Bore Well. In Canada, a committee is still deciding the title, but the book is widely available upon request in certain chemist shops. In the UK, it was first sold thirteen months ago as The Well of Boringness. There the launch was picketed by a new group, Sufferers from VUPS (Very Uninteresting Person Syndrome). They call anything with "bore" in the title, "pre-enlightened" and want it banned; and they used the launch opportunity to issue a press release calling for NHS funding and an end to job discrimination, especially where they say "prejudice is most deeply entrenched: in the arts", a point hotly disputed in a subsequent op-ed piece in The Times that caused incalculable offense to many.

Perhaps because of that incident, Bore Identification (B-ID) has now become an international "sport".

For her, life is now a blur of book signings, interviews, talk shows, so much time in planes that she longs for a quiet day to collect her thoughts again, because there are so many projects she's involved in now. Her publishers are pushing her to finish the next book, Decorating for Joy. And then there's the ghosted cookbook, Recipes for a Relevant Life—and of course, the autobiography that made Publishers Weekly for the size of the advance: Coming out Famous.

Her old friends are universally worried. She hasn't rung them in years. Each one now knows why. She wrote the book about me.


AliceB said...

Excellent! :-)


anna tambour said...

Thanks, Alice!

Charles said...

Great piece Anna. I love the ending.

anna tambour said...

The pleasure is mine, Charles. How kind of you to tell me you enjoyed it. Many thanks.