Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Reasonably Short And Colorful Life of Leonard Macey

Leonard wrote in color. That is not to say that his words appeared in color, but rather he thought and conveyed ideas and emotions using a language of color. It was a skill he discovered as a child, as an infant in fact – where most infants stared up at colorful mobiles, Leonard studied them: their shades, their visual afterglows, the way light was changed by various temperatures and the way it all affected mood and intent. All this became fodder for a baby whose genetic predisposition allowed him to learn other languages with little effort. Where other children’s first words were usually “mama” or “papa”, Leonard’s was “blue” – not the sonic word blue, but the color blue. He conveyed the most baby of blues to his proud mama and papa who suspected they had a child prodigy on their hands.

As he grew so did his palette vocabulary until Leonard was able to write and speak in the most subtle shades of color, some visible to the human eye, while others not. He tried his hand at writing colored poetry which confused people at first thinking he was just being politically insensitive. He started with the visible hues first so that people who could not speak the language – and that would be everyone else – could at least have something to look at while he read. Eventually he took to writing poems and stories in the upper frequency spectrum of light, even into the UV range and soon his art took on the tenor of performance art, since whatever Leonard read was invisible and inaudible, it appeared to listeners that he was just standing there.

This worked out well in some quarters, avante garde coffee houses for instance, that embraced that sort of thing and since most people were usually too stoned for critical thought, it usually went over reasonably well for Leonard and he developed quite a cult following. In time, Leonard tried writing a novel with the title “Indigo Reddish Green Cobalt Blue”. Those were not the words of the title; those were the colors that were in fact the title. Only Leonard knew what the book or it’s title meant, but that did not keep some one from publishing it and the NY Times Book review from reviewing it, giving it high praise for a great attempt at a first quote – unintelligible art piece – unquote. Leonard rode a wave of fame as his book climbed the best seller list until, it appeared in both the top ten fiction and non-fiction lists since no one could discern under which genre the book should fall.

Soon, color fell out of fashion – as color will from time to time – back to basic black and all that, and how everything seems to be the new black, but soon on the heals of colored literature was the unlived memoir movement, followed by the living memoirs of someone else’s life movement, all which proved to be great fodder for the talk show circuit, C-SPAN book TV and lawyers. Over time, long after Leonard was gone and was just dust, libraries would remove any sort of catalog system since all literature gave way to a mélange of genre’s of writing that could easily be fit into any category. This branch of literature became known as “FU” writing as in: “Fuck, I don’t know what to call this kind of writing.” (Author’s note: FU literature enjoyed great popularity among airline travelers and was eventually replaced by imprints of cat paws on reams of watercolor papers known as the Feline movement. Literature was not much fun in the future!)

But Leonard was an army of one in his branch of literature, that of writing with color. Doctors examined him when he was young at first thinking his “disorder” was a variant of cinesthesia but then creating a whole new type of neurological anomaly. Leonard was directed toward traditional Art as a form of expression but he had the overwhelming urge to paint still lifes of creamy Italian pastries which only served to make him hungry which in turn exacerbated his cholesterol levels and drove his blood sugar levels beyond borderline diabetes to full blown raging diabetes. The more he painted, the more digits he would lose on his hands and feet, and Leonard did not consider that a fair trade at all, so he turned his gift in a completely unexpected direction.

Despite the success of his only novel at the age of 23, Leonard was denied his opportunity to create his magnum opus, as he died only two years after the publication and eventual nomination for a Nobel prize in both literature AND art in the same work. The event was most unfortunate and tragic and could never have been foreseen. It seems Leonard was leaving a book signing and while crossing at the light of a heavily trafficked intersection, frequented by large double tandems and construction equipment, the combination of the light suddenly turning to green, combined with the way the sunlight just happened to hit the stop light created such a color that spoke to Leonard in a way he never anticipated. He froze. He stopped completely in his tracks. Maybe it was the voice of God that none of us would ever hear, but in that one colorful syllable, the mysteries of the entire universe, of all the mulitverses, became clear to Leonard. So he stopped. But maybe too it was just a fluke. Maybe the combining light waves just so happened to reveal all this to Leonard. But no matter what the cause was, Leonard stopped – which was an unfortunate thing since a large dump truck unable to stop in time plowed poor Leonard over, knocking his very soul out of him three counties away in an instant. The coroner said it was instant, which we all assumed must have been the case, because, well, who would really know anyway, and it did console us greatly to think such a thing. Police recorded in the accident report the testimony of one witness who said that Leonard’s last words were “turqoise gray!”

He was not a man known for swearing, but under these circumstances, everyone felt he could be forgiven.

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