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Thursday, May 5, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - David Hollander

It wasn’t as if the young man knew right out of the gate that he’d be making news. In fact, his intent was solely to “follow his bliss,” to paraphrase Joseph Campbell (don’t worry, it doesn’t matter who he is), though of course for those of us gathered here today in this conference room situated in the seldom-seen-or-visited Borderlands of our so-called city, “following” is as impenetrable a word as “bliss,” given that both tend to lead to news, and we have of course taken the blood oath. God grant us the detachment and so on and et cetera. But the young man was—oh, you’ll see the topless girl coming around with the cigars now, gentlemen, real Guatemalans I’m told, though I’m not sure if that’s meant as a boast or an apology, as I myself have never acquired the taste—but so the young man was determined to live a life of meaning, a rather dusty endeavor but one he was uniquely suited to pursue, given the highly newsworthy pursuits of his parentals. His father was that zookeeper who ran off with the world’s last white rhino and was shot dead in a very newsworthy attempted bank robbery inspired by the Eroll Flynn Robin Hood film in which (i.e., the robbery, not the film) the rhino was used—unsuccessfully, but with great savagery—as a battering device. Those vaults are thick, gentlemen, 36 inches of tempered steel. The poor animal died of concussive trauma, perhaps yearning to know what existed behind that impregnable wall, imagining some stash of edible razor grass or other sustenance remembered vaguely from its wild youth. The young man’s mother, meanwhile, was a defense lawyer known internationally for representing the persecuted human rights defender Liu Ko against charges of treason, plied in response to his efforts to demarginalize farm workers rounded up and executed to make way for urban expansion. It was in all the papers, gentlemen, though we of course acquired most of those papers and heated our facilities with their combustions rather than allow them to “hit the newsstands,” if you’ll pardon the expression. But the point being that the young man had multiple examples in his own nuclear unit of what we might call “empathy,” or what we might otherwise call “spectacle,” but that we must call “news,” according to the bylaws.

And so the young man did not intend to make news himself or to attract our attentions, for like most of his newsmaking compatriots he did not know of our existence, and was only made aware when our agents arrived at his solar-powered green space situated (ironically) in the underserved inner city, where he would often go to manufacture his various responses to the world’s indifference to all things of import, the cultivation of which indifference has in fact been our Shared Project ever since we each of us individually took the blood oath. Perhaps had our envoys arrived by white rhino the young man would have taken us with greater seriousness. As it stands, his dismissals forced our hand, and we have him in custody in a pale room in which he is being exposed to heinous doses of the most absurd iterations of reality television we could dig up from our admittedly limited database. The young man may not have set out to make news, but after the recent report on his cult-like following—organized around his slogan, “Fight for the world you want”—went viral, threatening to bring much of what we have fought to keep out of the news, into the news, we had no choice but to nip his humanitarian stupidity in the so-called bud.

At times I almost believe, friends, that the instinct toward caring can not be doused any more easily than it can be reliably incited. The whole thing is an enormous crapshoot, isn’t it? No, no… don’t boo, gentlemen. I only mean that our efforts remain vital precisely because there is no endgame. News is destroyed, and that is good friends, but The News itself goes on. We fight its iterations, but have no access to its ad locum root. We could take the next step and eradicate the entire news-sensitive population, but where would that leave us? Do we not also require those who require news? What would we be without the comfort and company of these zealots and fools?

So yes, the young man is here and we’ll bring him out in a moment, but first I hope to elicit from each of you a brief written response—please use the lined yellow paper that you’ll find taped to your chests, there beneath your smart gray sportscoats—to the following question: What news is most newsworthy? And yes, this is relevant gentlemen. Because your answers will help us in our reprogramming efforts with the young man, who by the way goes by the name “Henry,” though I’ve taken to calling him “Bob.” Your efforts here will help advance our cause, or else we could just stone the young man to death according to the common method. In fact, forget the paper. Forget this entire diatribe, lest you leave this room feeling somehow edified or entertained. We’ll just execute the fucker and be done with it. Personally, I like a good rhino story. I am weak, like all of you. It is good to have no news, but even better is to need no news. Let us never forget our goal, gentlemen, of total and complete detachment from the world around us. And let us never fail to punish those who would stand between us and the Nothing that brings down mountains and also raises them up and does a bunch of other stuff too, none of which I can presently recall, thank you Jesus.

No news for now, gentlemen. God grant us the detachment and so on and et cetera. Is it hot in here? Would someone please open a fucking window or something?

David Hollander's work has appeared in McSweeney's, Post Road, The Collagist, New York Times Magazine and many others. He is the author of the novel, L.I.E. and lives in upstate New York with his wife and two daughters.

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