According to the art critic Cosmo Hoxtonwanker, “few things boost the ego of the great artist as much as the emergence, and failures, of their epigones, talentless imitators whose own work never cuts the mustard, but clearly owes everything to the example of the master. The opportunities for preening are legion.”
One might have hoped that the egos of the truly great would need no such puffing up, but Hoxtonwanker is surely right in this (as he rarely is in anything else). One thinks of the out of print pamphleteer Dobson, convinced at an early age that he would bestride the twentieth century like a colossus, but at the same time forever riven by doubts and insecurities. Marigold Chew has recalled how happy Dobson would be when some neophyte pamphleteer would blunder onto the scene, publishing a handful of hand-stitched copies of a tract with a title like Gosh, How I Wish I Was Dobson!, in prose that curdled as one read it. The bestselling paperbackist Pebblehead is reported to be equally gleeful when he sees the shelves stacked with pathetic imitations of his own tremendously thick glossy potboilers, so much so that he invites their authors round to his “chalet o’ prose” for cocktail parties, lording it over them and taunting them, often physically, by poking at them with a stick and dropping beetles into their drinks.
It is, of course, only the supreme talents, in any creative endeavour, who provoke the slavish and witless efforts of epigones. The rest of us must continue to plough our lonely furrows, keeping our spirits up as best we may, our egos fragile and subject to the vicissitudes of a world of pap.
Until now. For it is with possibly preposterous overexcitement that I can report the latest innovation from Blodgett Global Domination Cyber Enterprises GmbH. For the past couple of weeks, this brand new company, operating from an allotment shed near Sawdust Bridge, has been seeking ways to crush the likes of Google and Microsoft under its singularly decisive boot. Their first product is designed to appeal directly to persons of a creative bent who wish like hell they had an epigone, for just the kind of ego-boost Hoxtonwanker identifies.
The E-Pig One is a tiny robot pig that can be plugged in to your computer with a USB cable or a bit of fusewire knotted to a magnet. Once initialised, synched, and prinked, the circuit boards in the E-Pig One start buzzing away, creating copies of your most recent creative projects – whether they be novels or paintings or three-hour slabs of improv racket – and then cleverly draining all the spark out of them (if any). The resulting mess is then belched out on to the E-Pig One’s so-called “sty”. It has all the hallmarks of your own work, as it might have been imitated by a lesser being without access to the empyrean peaks of creative genius you inhabit. So you can bask and preen, while the E-Pig One whirrs to a standstill, charging up for its next task.
Such has been the industry buzz, Apple are apparently already working on an iPig. It won’t succeed. The beauty of the E-Pig One lies almost entirely in its spelling. That is what the punters will pay for.