Robert A. Teegarden's Blog

June 22, 2012

The Fabricated Man

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Robert @ 1:50 pm
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In 1951 Ray Bradbury, God rest his soul, published a book entitled “The Illustrated Man.”  Here’s how Wickipedia describes the work:

“The Illustrated Man is a 1951 book of eighteen science fiction short stories by Ray Bradbury that explores the nature of mankind. While none of the stories has a plot or character connection with the next, a recurring theme is the conflict of the cold mechanics of technology and the psychology of people.

The unrelated stories are tied together by the frame device of “the Illustrated Man”, a vagrant with a tattooed body whom the unnamed narrator meets. The man’s tattoos, allegedly created by a woman from the future, are animated and each tell a different tale. All but one of the stories had been previously published elsewhere, although Bradbury revised some of the texts for the book’s publication.”

“The Illustrated Man” was an eerie set of tales, all stemming from one man’s individual tattoos, each of which had a life unto their own.  Each tattoo told a story.  The skin-carvings came alive and “lived” on the body and in the soul of this seemingly hapless individual. The nightmares he suffered were real. But these sojourns into terror cannot compare with the sleepless nights and defensive-ridden days of the character in a suggested follow-up story.

 If Bradbury were still wielding his pen, he could create a sequel in 2012 entitled “The Fabricated Man.” But unlike his sci-fi exploration, “The Fabricated Man” would be in the non-fiction or biographical section of the library or your book store. You see, “The Fabricated Man” would be based on the real-life chronology of someone alive today.

 “The Fabricated Man” is based on the life experiences of a rather existential individual because he has no past and no future. He lives only in the moment and for the moment.  The continuity of his life can only be measured after-the-fact by his momentary appearances at various events that occurred in time.  Our fabricated man has an awful lot of secrets and, therefore, no history.

 Our protagonist has no real record of birth. What is offered as that record has been shown to be manufactured; it’s a lie.  Rumors (and his own stories) abound that he was born on an island in the Pacific, a British protectorate on the African continent and somewhere in the South Pacific country of Indonesia.  No one really knows, maybe not even our protagonist himself. 

 His origins and lineage are called into question because he applied for a job.  But this wasn’t just any job.  This job required clearances of the highest order and a very specific political heritage.  You see, he must demonstrate the citizenship of both his parents at the time of his birth.  A major dilemma occurs because our protagonist gets the job before those in charge verify his credentials.  Why they don’t do due diligence is the subject of yet another tale.  But this generates another dilemma because he’s now up for a review and a possible renewal in that position and many have come to question not only his glaring lack of abilities, performance and attitude in the job,  but the very legal requirements necessary for the job in the first place.

 I call the character a protagonist in the classical sense of that term only because he does have an antagonist in this story. There is someone out to destroy him.  Our story begins to border on a sci-fi thriller because the protagonist and antagonist are one and the same person. “I have met the enemy and he is I.”  The problem is that our protagonist doesn’t know it.

 Our “Fabricated Man” is a construct. He’s the product of a thousand sources yet he has no roots or wings. From his several parents to the mentors along his way, our character has been formed into a talented echo, but one who knows not whereof he speaks. He’s been fed with the gruel of sonorous sound-bites and nurtured on the narcissistic musings of Strombolis from around the world.  And like the Pinocchio of old, he doesn’t recognize how long his nose has grown.

 Instead of glimpses at a tattoo in order to read reality, our new character must use a teleprompter to receive input and directions.  His use of this artificial window is judged stellar. He appears larger-than-life and so much in control when he has his cue cards. But he consistently flounders in those moments when the electronic crutch is not available. When he attempts to stand alone without the e-crutch he demonstrates his insecurity and shallowness by not only refusing to answer questions about what he just tried to say, but he defensively attacks the questioner for having the temerity to even ask a question.

 His defense mechanisms are so acute that he spends millions of dollars to protect the shadows of his past.  He refuses to allow anyone into the nether world of his own background.  Of friends he seems to have none.  Of classmates he has identified only one. Of professional accomplishments he has none.  There is no record of origins, lineage, writing, schooling or accomplishment.  It’s as if he just arrived off a slow boat from China.  His only recorded achievement to date was to be “present” when others took votes on important issues. But he did win a popularity contest in 2008.  But that “win” was based on false premises, lies, appearances and the guilt of those voting.

 With each day our character does reveal the vacuity of his person.  He holds so many positions on the same issue that “truth” is only for him, here, right now, and in these conditions.  Our character is consumed even in sleep by the fabrications necessary to defend, disguise, or completely hide what happened before because today is a brand new day and he cannot remember.  The web of deceit is slowly choking his life force.

 Other people in his life are simply tools to navigate the vagaries of life itself.  His own auto-biographical musings were constructed to benefit just him. According to him, his mother of record is almost nonexistent; but his father had some influence.  His friends were made up and, oh, how they loved him; the very love of his life was even invented, but oh how she loved him.  Because of the duplicitous nature of his existence and character, he cannot remember to whom he told what.  So he hires a cadre of minions to glaze over the inaccuracies and inconsistencies and protect him from the reality of his own past, real or made up.  He even pays jurists to protect him from the queries and challenges that come with his new job.

 He once had a choice between statesmanship and politics. He could have chosen a future because it was exactly that–a future, based on a history of learned and lived truths. Or he could opt for the road of machines, manipulation and machinations.  He saw in the former that it meant that he would have to give what power he had away to others in service; only in politics could the power rest solely in him.  He unfortunately chose the latter.  But consistent with his nature, in the world of politics all roads lead to him.  Our Fabricated Man recently began marketing a new, on-line registry program.  Instead of buying your kids a gift on their birthday, instead of giving friends a wedding gift, instead of treating your beloved to a symbol of your love on your anniversary, there’s the new Fabricated Man Registry: you send your gifts to him instead.

 Our wanna-be-king/god also suffers from a bipolar disorder. But his is not just the stuff of everyday, ordinary Schizophrenia (which by definition describes all the decisions he’s ever made), but his disorder stems from his very roots.  You see, our character is the piebald man.  He comes from two very distinct racial groups: one of a color and the other of another.  Reasonable people find nothing wrong in this. But because of his upbringing and narcissistic desires, he’s never come to grips with if he’s really one color and not the other, vice versa, both or neither.  He never rose above it. So it suits his purpose to use even this reality not as a wondrous bridge to bring people together (to stress the “e” in “e pluribus unum”), but as an opportunity to divide and control and enslave once again. 

 Our central character never achieves the status of hero except in his own mind.  His beliefs are a function of time and, as such, they change with the sweep of the second hand.  Tick-tock, what do I believe today?  Tick-tock, what do I believe today? Tick-tock, what do I believe?  His life was captured by a rock group that sang years before he arrived.  But prescient with the insight of many artists, they sang:

 He’s a real nowhere Man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
For nobody.
Doesn’t have a point of view,
Knows not where he’s going to,
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere Man, please listen,
You don’t know what you’re missing,
Nowhere Man, the world is at your command.
He’s as blind as he can be,
Just sees what he wants to see,
Nowhere Man can you see me at all?
Doesn’t have a point of view,
Knows not where he’s going to,
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere Man, don’t worry,
Take your time, don’t hurry,
Leave it all ’till somebody else
Lends you a hand.
He’s a real Nowhere Man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
For nobody.

 Even with the mystery over his past, the confusion about the present and the hopelessness of his future, our protagonist has lived up to his name. Or has he?  You see, the fabricated man really doesn’t know who he really is.  The ancient ones, the Hebrews, told us of this so many years ago.  They said that if you know the name of a thing (or a person in this example), you then can have an understanding of it; you can have a relationship with it/him.  But our character, true to the existential nature of his being, has had so many names that it’s hard to know who he really is.  On college application he used one name, on job applications he used another.  With a protected and sequestered past and a Schizophrenic present, the future looks bleak for our fabricated man: he’s going nowhere, man.


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