Bishop in America

Chapter First -- in which John Bishop sets out for promising pastures, and gets calamitously "stuck"

"It was just before the Great Calamity broke out that he left the country -- on a return ticket -- to Florida, South in America. While at sea, the inevitability brought about an abrupt alteration in the country's bilateral relations," phatic wrote in his journal.

"John Bishop and the other foreign passengers were separated from the locals on arriving at their destination, encamped in an enclosed part of the city, and held at the Government's order for weeks. When their internment ended and they were allowed to leave the camp, Bishop and his fellow inmates could not leave Florida until the Calamity ended. By then Bishop didn't have any choice but to stay -- for purely economic reasons."

It was while there Bishop authored his unitary theory of sucked up nationalism. It has since acquired a sanctified position as a founding theory of the academic field of fellated theory.

Chapter Second -- where Bishop gets to meet an Old Woman who turns out neither Friendly nor Understanding

"Don't you know it's a crueal town you've arrived in," the older woman said, her face slightly tinted by the morning light.

"A city of dogs," phatic noted.

"I wouldn't say that," the woman insisted. "Dogs are kind creatures, unlike man."

"I understand your speech," phatic retorted, all the while contemplating an image he had seen that morning of a dog aggressively chasing a small, black bird, a worm lodged in it's beak. Whatever the bird had done? Nevermind the worm.

"You remind me, by the way," she continued, "somewhat of the grand son of this city, a thinker, he was. A man of word."

"You tease," phatic said.

"No, it's true. 'Tis true! He hated you're lot tho'. A pack of vermin, he called thou. Or rats, I can't recall."

"Rats?" phatic asked.

"There used to be a instigation of those critters here. Nasty, they were. And sent here by your lot. That's what he said, Chopinhauser. That's you're spitting image."

She had worked herself into a fit now, a small slither of spit dripping slowly from the edge of her lips.

"I see," phatic decided, collecting his notes from the circular table where she had interrupted his digressions.

"Before you leave, young man," she said," I should remind you that Chopinhauser told us you were  of the fleeing kind. 'Semper aliquid haeret,' they are. Or so he said. Throw mud, send rats, dispatch pilgrims, flee from  --" She seemed lost in thoughts for a second.

"Yes?" phatic said, now standing up, waiting for her final thrust.

"Something should stick," she said.

Did phatic detect a tear on her cheek? His eyes traced the money he'd left on the table as they disappeared into the waiter's wallet, the change left before the old woman, and the stream of guests exiting the cafe, drawing him into their comforting cloak of departure.

phatic had no longer than slid down on the seat-shaped chairs of Cafe Kanossa, picturesquely located on the south side of Bank Ave., as it streched from The Square of Lost Ideals to The Park of Novels thought of , but never actually Written, than the pamphlet revealed itself before him. The front cover had a picture of a fox on its way into a forest, stopping in its gait to throw a last glance at the reader before stooping into the woods. It bore the title On the Question of Bohemian Literature and was autherd by an autonomous collective with the name Hatters and Tepots.

It was a veritable attack on the Bohemian literature characteristic of a certain fin-de-siecle movement identifiable in several Northern European countries in the years following the Franco-German war. phatic took some notes and copied one passage in his notebook. It said, "Arne Garborg's Tired Men would be more acceptable for inclusion in the literary canon had it not been so plain boring."

Then phatic jotted, in quick succession, pegs, shaped like the lamps so characteristic of Kanossa, followed by the words "sentimental hogwash from page 1", "what's he chasing this tight girl for -- when he said he's an aesthete and man of words?" and "suggestive".

The sun rose over the low shack-like structures lining the back yard of Cafe Kanossa and the waiter appeared with a caffeine free latte and a chocolate croissant. As phatic sunk his teeth into the pastry, Lord Bishop appeared from behind the curtains of Kanossa's office, stuck his right foot out the door and started towards phatic.

What was he doing in there? phatic thought to himself.

Very few people were invited into the back room, and the smile on his friend's face revealed some good news had befallen him.
"phatic, old chap," Bishop uttered as he streched his arm out to greet.

They sat in silence for a while, Bishop ordering a black coffee without sugar.

"This place used to be famous," Bishop started.

Wonder when they began addressing him "Lord," phatic thought to himself.

"Artists from all over would come here."

"Is that so," phatic said brusquely, reached for his hat before remembering that he didn't wear one, stood up and declared he was in haste.

"There are certain errands that must be made, certain appointments met, certain obligations fulfilled," he said mysteriously, considering for a moment whether to shake Bishop's hand, deciding not to, and leaving the cafe in long strides.

"As I unpacked my library today," phatic said.

"Yes?" I replied.

We were standing beneath a large, rather pale tree, the appellation of which bequethed its designator to The Park of Novels thought of , but never actually Written.

"I was saying," phatic retorted, "I was unpacking my library today."

"Mm," said I.

"...and I realized I know longer have a copy of Derrida's Of Grammatology."

"A gap?" I inquired.

"Indeed," said phatic.

I felt intruiged. What did the book mean (to him) and how interesting should it be (to me)?

"You fell quiet," phatic continued.

I didn't say anything.

Two birds were chirping in some near-by bushes. A couple passed discussing their country's discursive production as a peace nation. One of them suggested it would be more valiant to consider it a nation for justice.

"How did you feel about having the gap in your collection?" I said.

phatic didn't answer. The sun didn't set. It was a strange evening. Anything could happen.

It was a simmering hot afternoon on the south side of Bank Ave. phatic had ordered a tonic. Bishop hung onto the gin.

"Protagoras was the first constructivist," phatic said cooly.

"What do you mean constructivist?" Bishop retorted.

"Like, man is the measure of all things, or as Plato puts, things are to a man as they appear to him."

"There have been times," Bishop responded, "that I have been driven in my perspirativity to take refuge with that fellow. But not often!"

"What do you mean perspirativity," asked phatic. "I mean I know what perspiration means, like as in 'a homeostatic process.' But perspirativity? You didn't just make that up?"

Bishop thought for a while. Then he concluded authoritatively,

"Perspirativity is the ability to perspire."

The rest of the evening they pondered in their togetherness silently. The sun set. It was warm. Florida was allright.

After all, Bishop thought.

Chapter VI -- Bishop unveils the fundamentals of fellated theory

"Fellated theory," Bishop started -- it was a dark and rainy afternoon in the Center for Non-Native Studies on the West side of the Square of Lost Ideals.

"Fellated theory," he repeated, "is probably best described by way of a paraphrase of Wittgenstein."

He drank some water, cleared his throat, drank some more water. Then he started reading from a manuscript, prepared for him by a local ghost writer, in careful, clearly pronounced sentences.

"Describe the aroma of tea.

Describe the aroma of Earl Grey.

Describe the aroma of Lapsang Souchong.

'Why can't it be done (by me)?', as Witters pathetically self-wrote.

'Do I lack the words? Or do I lack the tongue?

And for what are words lacking?

Are they English words that I'm lacking? Or is this book going to be  translated for me?

But how do we get the idea that such a description -- 'Earl Grey is  Better, qua aroma, than Lapsang Souchong' -- must after all be possible?

Have you ever felt the lack of such a description?'"

He looked around the lecture hall. It was empty, save for a single seat in the back.

"And this is the fellated theory of knowledge?" the person in the back seat asked, his voice echoing in the gloomily lit lecture hall.

Bishop thought for a while. He met the eyes of the stranger, and thought he look a bit like his friend.