There is more on making sense in the Pelican Manifesto, page 2.

Making Sense

'Are you following these rules?' Janice asked me, the other day.

'I'm trying to,' I said, 'although I must admit I haven't got much beyond the first three.'

She nodded. 'Rules are good. Except they don't work for me. I'm too disorganised.'

I happen to know that this is not the case. According to her boss at the Ministry of Cheese, Janice's brilliant administrative skills keep a whole department on the bureaucratic strait and narrow. It's only in her personal life that she falls victim to a certain fluffiness, especially when romance or, as Rupert would insist, pheromones are in the wind.

Her comment got me thinking, though. Why was I bothering with the nine rules? Weren't they entirely arbitrary and pointless? Breathe well? Avoid clocks? What did I think I was doing? For a moment this attack of Amandaesque scepticism had me floored. I was overcome by shame and bemusement, as if I was in one of those dreams where I was standing in a shopping mall with no clothes on. I was in the grip of an absurdity. Of course, absurdity is what this game is all about. And that thought brought me around, gradually, to a new realisation.

I don't need a justification for the rules. They certainly don't have to deliver benefits. Any good they might do is irrelevant. They are a ritual, to be followed for their own sake. Their pointlessness is exactly the point. I follow them because I choose to and because choosing is being alive.

Why these rules, though, and not others? No reason, except that these are the rules I have come up with. I could have come up with different ones but I didn't. Of course, I could change these, if I wanted to, but why should I? Because they are too difficult? Rules have to have a certain difficulty, an element of constraint and discipline, however small. Rules are not rules if they can be changed. Following the rules is a project, like writing a novel. It is a way of making sense. Other rules would also make sense just as I might write other novels. It just so happens that this is my current project. I could abandon it, of course. I might. Who knows? Perhaps only pride will stop me.

16 November 2008


© Chris Else 2008