Michael Blackburn's ART ZERO


This narrator, this merchant of tales and anecdotes, like all other storytellers, is unreliable. He is deceitful, jocular, over-serious, self-aggrandising, sly, obvious, garrulous, much too eager to please, taciturn, arrogant, clumsy and ingratiating. He is as unreliable and undependable a narrator as I am personally. I know, for instance, that he often tells the truth, but in such a way as not to be believed. Thus he covers himself against the charge of lying. Even when he is fabricating you canít be sure that he isnít just recounting something that has actually happened. For him, truth and fiction are interchangeable. Fable and fact are the same. All the time he seems to be begging your acknowledgment and respect while openly intending to rob you of something - it may be a few pounds or a couple of dollars, your girlfriend or wife, even your shirt; perhaps just your trust. You enter into a relationship with him at your peril. Whatever you get from him, he gets twice over from you. And, being the conman that he is, he will always find new victims when you prove exhaustible. So should you believe or suspend belief? How should I know? Even as I write these words I recall something an old girlfriend once said to me: Itís not that I donít trust you, itís just that I donít believe what you say.