Hello, my name is Martin Amis;
I bend right over and kiss my anus.
Women are stunned by the way I hate them;
Their humiliation is my entertainment.
The hero is a man who can reach
Into the lives and dreams of others.
The younger journos know that if they try --
Add clever syntax, acid bleach --
My style of writing is within their span.
Watch them follow me, ape my mannerisms
Young guns, emulating worldly cynicism
Eye on the main chance.
A part of me knows that the real writer
Is the opposite of hero, the epitome of the unusual
Afflicted by independence, not merely unfashionable
But entirely outside the very notion of fashion.
A good writer honours the humanity inside him
Makes natural connections, writes simply
Does not need to posture, or strain to add
Pretentious themes to lightweight work.
My own perspective is entirely different.
What's mutual is mediocre --
That's my deepest fear. Whatever I hold
In common, I rigourously suppress.
Instead I prefer to be a Superman, seeing over
My literary empire, its creatures in abject subjection
To my capricious will. Any fictional being
Capable of independence is a direct threat to me.
As a consequence, I have never invented
A plausible or fully rounded character
Merely straw men and women, embellished stereotypes
For my own godlike entertainment.
As tyrant over my narrative
What I demonstrate is pure technique.
The polished surface and mot juste
Are greater glory to the author.
I am the artist's politician
I love the powerful, loathe the weak.
My instincts are pure snobbery
I have less sympathy for humanity than a virus.
If I incline to the left it's because that's the future.
My politics are a function of my ambition.
I have a certain view of progress --
The winners write history. It justifies a pure regress
To adolescent assertiveness. As for thought itself
I'm so light I could float upwards.
My special gravity is based
On acolytes clinging to my feet.
My most curious and perhaps my saddest feature
Is that I am a genuinely fine comedic writer
As good as my lamented father, my reputation
Justly and independently earned. Kingsley, it was said
Would arrive at the breakfast table
A little the worse for wear. But one glance
At the inanity of the newspaper headlines
Was usually sufficient to make his eyes
Pop out over his cornflakes. Gibbering with rage
He would depart to his study, amply
Motivated for a morning's hard work. So I
Continue to fight the moronic inferno:
A just cause. But the secret of unhappiness
Is to be dissatisfied with oneself
And hanker after another life. I strive to be
The greatest British writer. On that at least
I know how to work the superficialities. I am a master
Of the sound-bite, the television interview
The newspaper article pontificating on great events
Like a regular master. Underneath, though
I'm a material boy, who thinks big advances
Embellish my importance. My personal lifestyle
My beautiful wives, my dental expenditure
Construct a literary parody of Hollywood.
My youthful cover portraits breathed smoke:
The smouldering glance, the bee-stung lips
Conflating James Dean and Gina Lollabrigida.
Later portraits emphasise gravitas
The author supreme over all he surveys:
A growling delivery, the carefully chosen apothegms:
Someone who has seen it all.
Beneath that fashionably crusty surface
I make the deepest-dyed Tory seem radical.
I haven't had an original thought yet
But I've shown how far that you can go
With some showy prose and huge ego.
Meanwhile, my literary dance in front of the media
Distracts attention from better modern writers --
Justin Cartwright, Russell Hoban, Graham Swift
The late W G Sebald or Penelope FitzGerald --
Who live or lived quieter lives
In the shadows, dedicated to their work
Painstakingly constructing beams of sunlight
Or the exactitude of dust.
The machinery of my publicity moves forward
As I crowd out my rivals with a prima donna's elan.
Each year that passes
I talk more anxiously of my posterity.
Yet inside me an anxious fear gnaws
A rat of doubt sits in my stomach.
I hear the empty echo of my voice
Selling a brand, a market commodity:
The florid workings of a literary surface
Hiding a vacuous interior. Celebrity is a succubus
Eating its owner, the mask burning into the face
Until the image owns the soul.
As I grow more famous, so my writing
Decreases in quality, as though the two
Are inversely related. I have not written
A first-rate work in twenty years.
While I preen and dance to fashionable adulation
The true task of a writer slips further away.
Each of my new works trivialises its subject, becomes
A mere parody of its predecessor.
As my writing diminishes, so my reputation grows --
Proof, if proof were needed
That the leading figures of literary London
Are as impressed with material success as I am.
Bound together in mutual support, we remain
A small, self-serving incestuous tribe, fearful of outsiders
Whose chief achievement is to keep real talent at bay
While absorbing just enough to maintain a semblance
Of literary virtuosity. Meanwhile
The publishers of leading literary houses
Have bound themselves to the wheel of celebrity
As tightly as any chat-show host.
Strange, too, that it takes a literary elite --
Self-evidently cultured, humane, discriminating
Anti-capitalist -- to construct a perfect demonstration
Of the dark art of advertising.
Like a tyranny which traps its own lead characters
In a web of collusion
Happy to engage in mutual conspiracy
My reputation grows by what it feeds on.
At every public opportunity, I press forward
To give my views, carefully composing
Orotund generalities aimed at easy targets
Dismembering Stalin fifty years after his death.
There's nothing so inane
As a shallow man attempting profundity.
"I'll never forgive Thatcher for our loss of civility."
"Bush is more primitive than Saddam."
These are not thoughts, but noises designed
To impress a certain kind of bien-pensant reader.
I know my constituency -- the chattering classes
Their hopes, fears, hatreds, secret snobberies.
Sometimes, pour encourager les autres
Emphasising my superiority over my native culture
Attempting to chastise and discipline
My retinue of jackals
I threaten to decamp to New York.
But a different regime holds there --
Autonomous, self-confident, unimpressed
By a faux-American whose worship of success
And manipulation of self-image is a byword.
My hypocrisy is such, I cannot repress a sneer
At the sincerity of American aspiration. So I hover
Endlessly poised between threat and fear.
There is a primary division in literature between
Those who write, and those who want to be a writer.
The first are genuine, the latter poseurs
Literature's straw-men, ambition's servants.
Instead of striking out for my own private space
I am the king of the literary celebrities
The Will Selfs and the Sadie Smiths.
The small thief's hero is a major criminal.
If the works of Shakespeare and Dickens,
Austen and Melville, Hawthorne and Joyce
Are founded on generosity to their characters
Mine are based on sadistic relations.
My characters are ciphers, whose actions
Are designed to show humanity as sordid
Venal, shallow, utterly bereft
Of nobility or complexity.
And why not? My narrative is myself.
My downwards sneer
Is what distinguishes and separates me
From you, amongst others ...
Meanwhile, my admiration for my own writing
Constructs a perfect solipsistic circle ...
Hello, my name is Martin Amis;
I bend right over and kiss my anus.