"Imagine we're all characters in a novel," said B.
"OK," said a man he didn't know by name but could imagine sat, like himself, in front of a glowing computer screen, killing time, escaping from 101 things that needed to be done... "So - what we think of as real life is actually just a book?"
"Exactly. Everything we say is the stuff that gets squeezed between the inverted commas", said B.
"I'm with you", the shadowy figure replied.
"So who writes all the stuff in between? Who's the narrator? Who writes all those paragraphs where no-one actually says anything?"
"Dunno," said the shadowly figure. "Isn't that taking the idea a bit far?"
"Humour me," said B.
"OK. I don't know. Who does write all the stuff in between?" said the shadowy figure.
"The artists," said B. "The painters, the writers, the sculptors, the composers, the poets, and so on."
There was a pause. A box popped up on B's screen telling him an update was available for a programme he'd never heard of. He cancelled it.
"I see what you mean," said the shadowy figure.
It's a shame, thought B: it's getting late. It would soon be time to go to work. He'd have to log off. Just when things were getting interesting.
"What if the novel's all dialogue?" said the shadowy figure. What a clever shadowy figure, thought B. He had to think fast.
"Then the characters have to work harder to say what they mean," he said. It was the best he could do.
"It's an interesting idea," said Mr Shadow.
"It is. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense of things. I mean, the meaning or purpose of the arts. It explains why they're more than entertainment. It cuts across boundaries. You don't have to take sides (not that you ever did). I mean, you don't have to choose between Tracy Emin and the Stuckists. Elgar and John Cage. If something someone makes is a meaningful part of the narrative then great."
"Music - now that's interesting. Are you saying that when we listen to music we should ask ourselves: what is this piece of music a soundtrack to?"
"Yes, I suppose I am," said B.
"And poetry... It means it might rhyme and go dumdidumdidum or be all irregular lines with funny punctuation but that doesn't matter at all, what's important is the part it plays in the narrative?"
"Exactly," said B.
"If you're right then the arts are pretty important," said Mr Shadow.
"Indeed," said B. "Invaluable." It was 7.55. If he stayed online longer he'd be pushing it...
5 years ago