Six Word Memoirs

1. “Lightning crashes, a new mother cries.”1

2. Mother coos adoringly–checks for tail.

3. Hated religion. Hated people. Loved puppies.

4. Cliche: failed starving artist becomes a teacher.

5. Patient admitted involuntarily. Diagnoses: Clinical Depression.

6. Doctor’s Notes: discharged Against Medical Advise.

7. Wanted marriage, but fucked around instead.

8. Hated most things, but some ok.

9. Why use lot words when few…2

10. Required to write bad flash fiction.

I like very, very little about the genre of flash fiction. When Hemingway (attribution is questionable, but we’ll give him credit) wrote “Baby shoes for sale: never worn”, it was to demonstrate that a lot of information could be conveyed in a little bit of text. The fact that he never actually published this in a short story collection–and it is only known to us through apocryphal, third-hand re-tellings–shows us that it was more a teaching tool rather than intended as a final story. Even “baby shoes” is a poor story if taken as a story: an expectant couple had a baby that died (or the mother miscarried) before it was born. That is not a story: that is a premise. We can all use the lesson in this “story” to remind ourselves of the depth of words–that “brevity is the soul of wit”– but the idea that six words in itself is a full story is laughable. It reminds me of the “describe a movie plot badly” or “abridged classics” in which Macbeth is written as, “Old Ladies convince a guy to ruin Scotland”.

(even more) abridged classics
Funny, but nobody is giving this a Nobel prize

It reminds me of Huxley’s Brave New World in which people don’t have time to digest literature but rather take their information in snippets. Six words allows no development or nuance. It’s great for a game between friends, but as an art form, it could only be kitsch. Kitsch requires no nuance. It is one thing or another.

In summary: I like the potential for humor when done as a game between friends; I like the lesson entailed that one can sum up information with few words and hint at greater depth that you allow the reader to divine out from the text. I hate the idea that it would ever be accepted and proliferated as an actual form of literature. I hate it more than digital mapping for debate prep, because that I hated for it’s needlessly complicating a process that is un-intuitive to my work flow; this I hate philosophically and ethically–this I hate as a portent of the end times of idiocy that will wash over the digital landscape. This is the fiction of Orwell’s Oceana. This is the fiction of Huxley’s World State. And both of those final sentences were too long to capture the thought I wanted to express if required to be put into the six word, flash fiction, format.

How the New Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy TV Series Can Get it Right |  Den of Geek
Somewhere, when our world is destroyed, someone will think it’s cute to write a flash fiction and sum up the entire history of the world with the phrase: “Mostly Harmless”, and two-word flash fiction will be born.

I bet people who like to share their pop-Psychology Myer’s Briggs personality type in dating headlines really like this fiction. I bet Rapi Kaur “instagram poetry” fans really like this fiction. I bet Robert Frost liked this form of fiction.

Fuck Robert Frost!

… and Norman Rockwell, and every cutesy, substance-lacking, Tweet-worthy bit of “micro-information” that people share between looking at piano cats.

Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one that led me to never meet anyone who liked flash fiction. And that has made all the difference.