Over the past year an airy loft in the Cape Town inner city has been serving as a meeting point for the Persons of Exceptional Significance - an elite society of the finest minds in South African culture, media and academia (and indeed the universe).
Participants in the Persons Of Exceptional Significance events convene to drink, acknowledge each other’s brilliance, set up independent non-partisan award committees to ensure that members are adquately recognized for this brilliance, express suitably emotive and enthusiastic support and indignation over the Cause Of The Week™, ridicule people who think they’re better than other people, and delight in scrumptious artisanal organic locavore fare from the village Woolworths.
This weekend was a particularly special and festive occasion, as our visitors had an opportunity to batter down one of the last and most stubborn of the outmoded, antiquated traditional social norms that hold back human progress. In short, they gathered to express the deepest nuances of their viscera to one another in a calm, safe and encouraging environment.
Host and recent star graduate of the UCT Faculty of Film & Economic Studies, Clarenceby Silverspooned Shyte-Spigot, went first.
Commentary from the assembled guests proceeds from his initial expression d’péter.
Thomas Tedious-Twattertoff: Astounding Clarenceby! Somehow you have managed to echo the themes, mood and substance of the essay you shared with us last week. Oh don’t look at me like that! You know the one! The one about the significance of the spoons in my own Sociological Thesis on the oppression of levers in Wolfgang Petersen’s tedious fascist production, Das Boot!
That is to say, the delivery was brazen, an initial austerity of sensory perception which lulled one into a sense of cautiously thrilled anticipation before our senses were overwhelmed by notes of literal-mindedness and a whiff of caecum. A cracker of an icebreaker! I..
Sean Whitesteed: If I may interrupt, Thomas, we’re all terribly excited to find out what the lovely Nigella Sollip-Cyst has to offer us this afternoon. Nigella, a little bird at your gallery told me that you spend no shortage of your time refining your expressions in the gallery broom cupboard. This must require truly daring levels of self-regard.
Nigella Sollip-Cyst: Sean, don’t be silly. I’d much rather see what you have to offer.
Sean Whitesteed: Cert..
Nigella Sollip-Cyst: No? WELL! The truth is I have been working on something special in my spare time. A Spartan diet of hard boiled eggs and champagne ensures that my ability to deliver convincingly coincides with the moment of inspiration from my muses. I also find that readings of Gramsci and Marcuse tend to filter through to, and inspire, my expressions at a profound level. Allow me to prepare a moment
Sean: Yes of course Nigella. Take as long as you need.
Clarenceby: Nigella won’t disappoint us.
A breathless hush ensued, and for a moment we feared that Nigella had lost patience and had enjoyed her expression by herself before coming over. But then it emerged in all its sonorous, majestic glory.
Jessica von Brassica-Haben: Good. God. Nigella. That was outstanding!
Clarenceby: May I! May I!
A brief altercation ensued, in which the gathered group argued playfully about who should have the right to first interpret Nigella’s minuet in methane. Clarenceby eventually won through, but was prevented from taking the podium by the premature, and prolonged, release of Professor Ivorytower-Tenure, who had become overwhelmed by all the excitement.
By the time that had droned away to a final, moist flourish, Nigella’s effort had been entirely drowned out by the Professor’s production, with its evocation of bookjacket dust, tobacco and choleric rice paddies. So Clarenceby simply reprimanded the professor for his poor form, before charitably indicating appreciation for the overall substance of the prof’s contribution. The floor was then opened for discussion of the two necropolitan productions we had just experienced.
Everyone agreed that words were probably not capable of communicating the brilliance of Nigella’s effort, while the Professor’s contribution had spoken for itself. Sean Whitesteed then offered to delay his own contribution until our next meeting so that he might compose a suitable and reciprocal homage to Nigella’s evocative expression.
After this there seemed little else to say, so the baton was passed to one of the VIPs at our event, political scientist Sylvester Houghton-Crib, who had recently resigned from his consultancy position at an autoproctologists union in order to dedicate himself to being permanently offended.
Sylvester rose to his feet and bowed gracefully.
Sylvester Houghton-Crib: With my compliments.
For several moments the attendant group waited expectantly. When nothing transpired an excited wave of murmuring washed across the gathering. One member whispered just loudly enough for everyone to hear whether Sylvester hadn’t perhaps been a little too generous with the gin earlier in the afternoon.
Then the genius of Sylvester’s play hit us all simultaneously, sparking spontaneous applause across the room.
Thomas: Sylvester you Devil. It was about substance and not style all along!
Jessica von Brassica-Haben: Brilliantly wrong footed. Just. Ouffff!
Nigella: Strains of Lloyd-Weber’s Phantom of the Opera, music of the night? And more subtly do I detect a tribute to the abstract expressionism of Newman?
At which point everyone agreed that it would only be charitable to open a window to share Sylvester’s genius with the city below.
Several other participants ventured their performances before attention turned to three time Edgy Award nominee, Pastichia Saint-Beaucoup’or, who'd risen to universal prominence by modelling the latest ideological fashions on the runways of London, New York and Pyongyang.
As was always the case when Pastichia had the floor, a breathless hush fell over the room. Then she spoke.
Pastichia: Thank you my brilliant friends. Before I proceed a little background on my humble creation.
To avoid being exclusive, and to stay unique and creative, I travelled around Cape Town sampling expressions from cool, happening people. Now people. It people. I travelled all the way from Kloof Street to Long Street, sampling talent wherever I could find it.
I was so inspired by what I saw. Thousands of intensely individualistic, so, so, so interesting upper-middle class 20-40 something white people, all expressing solidarity in ideology, opinion, dress, artistic preferences, attitude and hairstyle. It was incredible. These weren’t your run of the mill status-whoring fast adapters, these were people who could actually appreciate the incredible daring and personal integrity that is required to sublimate oneself entirely to dominant establishment narratives.
In my conversations it became apparent that not one of these paladins of progress had allowed their deep commitment to their personal materialism get in the way of their equally intense devotion to radical leftist ideology. It was inspiring and intoxicating. Often I’d nip in while the artist was snuffing her- or him-self on the balcony of a local doucherie, sample a whiff and then snap my sampling cup shut on a little piece of self-expressed history…
The audience sat rapt, waiting for Pastichia to continue.
Pastichia: The key to my pending performance was to then siphon this saprobic scent into my sinuses, using yoga to encourage it to breath through the core of my being and merge with my own scent, birthing something entirely new. Something… revolutionary.
I then invented an apparatus out of a retro oxygen mask and a hosepipe (patent pending), generating a feedback loop that allowed me to internally distill the essence of my creation. For three days and three nights I allowed it to circulate through me. It was a religious experience. I encountered my own greatness, then surpassed it, fantastical ideas and concepts sparked through my brain. Soul burning, I finally arrived at the expression I plan to share with you today.
A breathless silence descended upon the room once again. The fervor of Sylvester and the Professor’s prolix post-perineal polemics had long since subsided. The audience watched as Pastichia slowly and deliberately pulled herself into the lotus position, took three or four deep breaths, and performed an act of pelvic pranayama so profound that several of the attendant members slipped from consciousness, while the rest of us wept openly in a state of near-religious rapture.
Then the plaudits began to pour in.
Clarenceby: Transcendental. I'm nominating you for both the Shyte-Spigot Praxis Award and the Diamond Medal in Significance immediately.
Professor Ivorytower-Tenure: Sublime, my dear. Notes of oak, evocations of Handel being played in a bathtub.
Sean: Your best ever. Wow. Just wow.
Jessica von Brassica-Haben: I love, love, love what you have done here.
Thomas: Perfection? Perfection. I wish I could have one of those first, thing, every morning. You should bottle it. You really should. It’s that good.
And there were too many more to mention. Sylvester was too moved to speak; the lenses of his sternly framed spectacles misted over, his face a picture of longing - and the faintest, piquant whiff of young pinot noir rising from his seat.
The room eventually settled into a semblance of order, but only once Sean Whitesteed had made a show of hunting around the room for every last delectable snuff of Pastichia’s genius.
After that it was agreed by all to move onto lunch, where our collective acts of daring self-expression were discussed over a plate of Woolworths soft eating bread.