Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Eternity Burning: Chapter 3, Part 6

"We need slogans. We need banners. We need a bunch of things that excite the imagination, and fire the soul. What the Fellowship needs is something that everyone can rally around."

"Are we looking to recruit new members, or galvanize the ones we already have?" Ben asked.

"Both," Victory Halov said, “What we need is numbers."

"And the only way to get numbers is to get a rally cry. I understand, Victory," Ben said, nodding.

"I'm thinking an exceptionally recognizable piece of clothing for all the Fellows to wear," said Margaret Hwang, one of the new members of the Fellowship, "Something that will set us apart from the crowd."

"Margaret's on to something," Ben said, leaning back in his chair, "First and foremost are colors...what colors?"

"Can't be white and it can't be black," Rick said, leaning forward, "Either one could be perceived as racist."

In the few weeks since Victory had been recruiting The Fellowship of Business, Labor, and Merchantry had become a small but quickly growing weed in the garden of employment. All manner of workers seemed drawn to it like moths to a flame, but few were as zealous about it as Victory was. The Fellowship seemed to offer something to everyone. It was a somewhat odd organization in that it had no real minorities. The amounts of blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians were all roughly equal. It was also almost evenly half men and half women. Races and religions were also fairly well mixed. They all considered each other equals (if not necessarily family as the members of the Fellowship were supposed to consider each other). The Fellowship was a very interesting and singular achievement for that reason, not just in America, but in the world.

"Red..." Victory suggested ambiguously.

"Too reminiscent of communism," Margaret said.

"How about silver, for tools, metal, that kind of thing," put in Annie Martinez, who had come with Ben Goldberg, and despite her initial trepidation she had really gotten excited about the Fellowship.

"Keep it in mind," Victory said.

Suddenly Ben brightened up. A lightbulb seemed to appear above his head.

"Blue, maybe?" he asked, "Blue collar, appeals to the workers, Blue blooded, appeals to the higher classes. Nothing offensive about blue."

"I like that," Victory said, "All in favor?"

In unison, the small group said, "Aye."

"Let's say jackets then. Ben, it was your idea, you want to get on top of ordering some for us specifically."

"Look for a neutral shade of blue," Annie said suddenly.

"All right," Brian said, making a mental note.

"That was painless enough," Margaret said, "Now for the hard part...developing a symbol."

"Slogans first, symbols later," Ben said.

“We’ve got a symbol, the ox,” Victory said, pointing at the flag he had made.

“Slipped my mind,” Ben said, “But still, slogans.”

"Well, what do we stand for exactly?" Annie said, a little testily.

"Democracy, capitalism,” Victory said, ticking things off on his fingers, “We stand for supporting hard work in any form. We stand for no tolerating unemployment. We believe that unemployment simply means laziness, and we hate laziness. Basically, we work to defend anyone who works."

"Okay...the unemployed have no money because they don't work. We can't say, 'Don't work and you'll have no money'," Ben said.

"Too many negatives," Rick said.

"But we could say...'Work is money'. That's it! 'Work is money'."

The small group applauded Ben’s brilliant idea. The meeting had been dragging on for an hour or two and because it was beginning to wear down, Victory decided to end it. Ganyu had been surprisingly silent throughout the whole thing, considering the fact that it was in his house. The Fellows began filing out, shaking hands with Victory and Ganyu as they did so. As the last of them left, Victory finally turned to Ganyu.

“You’ve been very quiet,” Victory said.

“Yes,” the Bulgarian √©migr√© said.

“Any reason?”

Ganyu shrugged.

"They’re all pretty excited. But there aren’t many people like that. You’ve been trying to recruit for what, five weeks now? And you’ve found what, ten members?”

“It’s a very diverse group,” Victory said thoughtfully, “It really seems to fulfill what I wanted it to be.”

“It’s small,” Ganyu said, stating the fact very simply.

“Do you know why that is?”

“It’s because you’re inarticulate, my friend. A leader needs to be an orator. You’ve got vague hazy ideas. These few people are looking for lofty ideals, but as time wears on, you’re going to find yourself in trouble because you can't voice any of this in practical terms. You’re going to lose them as time goes on because you’ll accomplish nothing.

“Look, in the past two hours you did nothing but debate and quarrel over meaningless little things like colors an slogans. In your first meeting, the most important meeting ever, you all accomplished nothing. need to learn how to speak or find somebody who can, or else this noble Fellowship of yours is going to die in the womb."

The old intellectual patted Victory on the shoulder paternally. Victory nodded, sighed, and left. He knew the old man was right, but it came as such a blow to him.

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