(not quite) a literary journal


Troubled Young Man, or: This is That but That This is Not by Rudy Martinez

Troubled Young Man fears that he is disconnecting from reality due to his newfound ability to reference and cross-reference everything he sees and hears to something he has seen or heard in the past. This becomes apparent to him on a walk home late one night. He passes two pedestrians, deep in conversation, and one of them utters a line from a film or seemed to be behaving like a character from a film or TV show, he doesn’t remember.[1] What he does remember is wanting to run down the street, away from the pedestrians, after having realized the horrific fact that nothing he sees or hears is original. In fact, Troubled Young Man sinks deeper into despair after realizing that his wanting to run in the opposite direction of the pedestrians can be referenced or cross-referenced to something he has seen or heard in the past. After ruminating on potential alleviants to this nightmarish scenario, it is decided that the only question is that of suicide, but alas, even this position is one that was posited by a handsome Frenchman who died in a car crash (an event that in itself was highly unoriginal).[2] In a shocking turn of events, Troubled Young Man decides that waiting for a new bridge to be built, so as to be its first suicide-participant will prove too timely (and who is to say he won’t be beaten to the punch by another Troubled Young Person who will jump off the bridge while it is still under construction?), so he silently agrees to a life of unoriginality in which he will continuously reference and cross-reference those things which he has seen or heard in the past until he is able to provide the illusion of originality or OR or he sows so much unoriginality that he provokes an authentic statement. This is how he will know he has found God.

[1] Do the essences of characters precede our presence? Storytelling dates back thousands of years, the earliest such examples being symbols drawn on walls. So, even then, 9,000 years ago, people were being influenced by media.

[2] I know what you’re thinking: What of the American fellow who dedicated a passage in his first novel to this issue? Well, he happily admitted being an ersatz of Faulkner.