I was honoured by a mention here, in Fat Roland’s introduction to the Beatoff Generation. So far, I haven’t really commented much on my inclusion in the #beatoff movement. Which isn’t necessarily rude, by the way, it’s just a reversal of ‘offbeat’, see, nothing rude about it all as far as I can tell.
So without further ado – here it is. My comment, I mean. My contribution.
#beatoff is the unstoppable proliferation of grand yet oblique manifestos across multitudinous blogs and twitterfeeds, hoping to acknowledge the greatness of literary movements in general whilst simultaneously embarrassing all of the other existing movements, and ourselves, with our earnestness. #beatoff is the movement that named itself, as opposed to letting either commentators or history decide on what it should be called or whether or not it should even exist at all.
#beatoff is the litter of kittens that is born speaking with human voices and with soft, human hands. The articulate kittens that startle the human ‘owners’ of their feline mother into a blind panic, causing them to run away out of the house without locking the doors, but goddammit the fridge is full and its full of great unwritten books that we will eat and then regurgitate, our stomachs still too small to deal with the import and the consequence.
#beatoff is the deforestation of the forest that divides ‘true’ and ‘untrue’, the commitment to the telling of truth via fiction and the making up of stuff and pretending it might be true, and also the recognition that deforestation is never a good thing, in fact at the end of it there is always a wasteland and a damaged ecology. #beatoff is the beginning of that wasteland both in the temporal and geographical sense, it is the embrace of the wasteland, it is a violent rebuttal to the ecology which was actually only a metaphor for something awful anyway so it’s OK, it’s a good wasteland, this one, it’s a good wasteland and a never-ending one and we are all of us standing on the edge looking in and thinking ‘wow, it’s pretty verdant for a wasteland’.
#beatoff is a kick in the teeth for the word ‘pretentious’ because the word has teeth, teeth and a blackened heart. #beatoff is a kick in those teeth and a knife in that heart.
#beatoff is millions of us frantically hashtagging late into the whisky-addled night because hashtagging is important, and communication is important. #beatoff is a palimpsest of hopeful and obscure tweets and links and news and stories, a network extending from a nodal cluster that physically is in Manchester but electronically it could be anywhere. #beatoff is the novel that you would get if you arranged all of the words on the internet into their best possible order.
#beatoff is the joyous acceptance of anything and everything (apart from cruelty) and everybody, including other literary schools or movements, whichever, whether they like it or not.
If you are reading this then you are #beatoff. #beatoff is a fire burning in your old schoolbag. #beatoff is you smashing your spectacles up safe in the knowledge that you won’t ever need them again. #beatoff is that feeling you get when you think you’ve made a massive mistake at work, but then see that you haven’t, that everything’s OK. #beatoff is to fiction that feeling of waking up and thinking it’s Monday only to realise that no, actually it’s Saturday. #beatoff is the City of Light burning down, being consumed totally by flames as deep and meaningful as the ancestral memory of elephants.
(Speaking of elephants, I was once told that if you keep on feeding an elephant it will never die, that they only die in the wild because their teeth fall out and they can’t eat).