Fiction has become Jerry's most successful pickup line. The culturally accepted version of lying that is: Short stories with arrogant and witty protagonists. Boys with blistering thoughts and sharp words, his characters observe only to formulate their next jab. This aggressive form of storytelling wins him affection from women, and disapproval from professors.
Jerry writes himself into his stories, and the characters suffer an identity crisis as a result. His voice swallows up the narrative and the plot suffocates in an ooze of style. Of course, he is blissfully unaware of this clash until Whit lectures him into the floorboards. An editor of Story magazine, Whit still teaches at Columbia to support his fruitless career in writing.
Whit is the first jaded wise man that Jerry encounters on his journey to self-actualization. The veteran abandons his podium often, knowing that Jerry requires a confrontational teaching approach. Sniffing out Jerry's talent, Whit chastised the young artist with noble purpose. A will stronger than titanium, Jerry's character needs to be re- purposed into an insatiable drive.
Greatness comes at a grave cost. Even watering greatness involves countless occupational hazards. The fallout of success contains a special strand of toxicity. Jerry does not become drunk on his notoriety, but rather uses it as an excuse to alienate everything that does not pertain to the magic carpet that delivered him to the clouds.
Jerry's second teacher reinforces this pursuit of isolation in the name of exterminating distractions. The stench from his daydreams sends him to the floor where he becomes enchanted by his breaths. Meditation becomes weaponized within his domestic context, and his productivity only wounds his family.
Whit told Jerry very early on that writing is never about publication, it is about producing without ceasing with no guarantees of recognition. This cozy proverb morphs into an ugly manifesto. A global conflict gives Jerry a muse, but the magnum opus has nothing to do with death. But then again, his masterpiece might have everything to do with death.
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