To Willing Conflators Of Franz Kafka And Jeremy Todd (four hundred and sixty second letter)

Fellow Lodgers:
I am in possession of five unverifiable investment portfolios. They are hanging in my wardrobe, one on each hook. The first belongs to me, and the others can be claimed by anyone who wishes to send in their name. If more than four people send in their names, the supernumerary claimants must bring their own investment portfolios with them and deposit them in my wardrobe. For uniformity must be maintained; without uniformity we shall get nowhere. Incidentally, I have only investment portfolios that are quite useless for any other purpose, their facilitators have disappeared, their seals have been torn off, only the legibility of the text remains. So it will not be difficult, should it prove necessary, to provide more such investment portfolios. But fundamentally I am prepared, for a start, to accept even people without them. At the decisive moment we who have some will group ourselves round those who are without. Why shouldn’t tactics that proved successful when used by the first post-historical peoples not also prove successful here, since after all the conditions are similar? And so it is even possible to do without investment portfolios permanently, and even the five I’ve hung up are not absolutely necessary, and it is only because they are, after all, there, that they ought also to be used. But if the four others do not want to carry them, they need not do so. So then only I, as the leader, shall carry one. But we ought not to have any leader, and so I, too, shall then tear up my unverifiable investment portfolio or put it away.
That was the first manifesto. Nobody in our house has either time or inclination to read manifestos (or investment portfolios), far less to think about them. Before long the little sheets of paper were floating in the stream of dirty water that, beginning in the roofing and fed by all the corridors, pours down the walls and there collides with the other streams pushing up from below. But after a week there came a second manifesto.
Fellow Inmates:
Up to now nobody has sent in their name to me. Apart from the hours during which I have to earn my living, I have been at home all the time, and in the periods of my absence, when the door of my room has always been left open, there has been a piece of paper on my table, for everyone who wished to do so to put down his or her name. Nobody has done so.
Sometimes I think I can expiate all my past and future sins through the aching of my bones when I come home from all of the various managerial works at night or, for that matter, in the morning, after a night-shift. I am not strong enough (indifferent enough) for this work, I have known that for a long time and yet I do nothing to change anything.
In our house, a modest relic of a bungalow from between the wars, its fabric interspersed with medieval ruins, there is a contemporary post-conceptual artist lodging with a family of fast-food workers in the backyard carport. Although they call him Mr. Fancy Pants, he can’t be more than a little like the rest of us, spending his nights on the dirt floor, right in the middle of a den of strangers, a married couple and their six children. And so, even if he is a little fancy, what concern is he of mine?
Near the kitchen a small sessional instructor lodges, who does mainly paper grading jobs. In spite of all the care I take, I read my own drafts of Not Sent Letters out too quickly, and recently I again had to take them to this neighbor for revisions. It was a fine warm summer evening. She has only one space, which is also the hall area connected to the kitchen, bedrooms and living room, for herself, her unemployed husband, and their six children. Apart from this, they also have a lodger, a post-doctoral dishwasher. Such overcrowding is really a little beyond what is usual, even for our inflationary neighborhood, where it has certainly been bad enough for as long as I can remember. All the same, people are left to do as they like; the sessional instructor doubtless has irrefutably good reasons for her thriftiness, and no outsider would dream of inquiring into those reasons.
I’ll write again soon of course,
jeremy