|THE STORY OF PIERRE|
Pierre suffered not only in his possessions, but in his person. His clothes
would split at the seams as he was walking down the street. He had bought them
from firms offering vast discounts on stocks being cleared, either because of
stocktaking or a takeover. He would seek out such bargains not through meanness,
but solely in order to enjoy all the benefits of a modern world. One day, when I
met him, he'd gone completely bald. In his tireless pursuit of progress, he had
hit on the odd idea of changing the colour of his hair from blonde to dark. He'd
applied a liquid which made all his hair fall out, to his great delight, since
he could now, he claimed, employ a certain hair lotion guaranteed to give him a
head of brown hair twice as thick as his previous one. Incidentally, his cheeks
and chin were perpetually covered in gashes from the superior modern razors he
used. His hats went out of shape after a weeks wear, and the clever little
springs designed to open his umbrella never worked when it was raining. I won't
mention all his patent medicines. He had always been strong and healthy; he
became emaciated and short of breath, and now advertising really started to
destroy him. Thinking he was ill, he began to try out all the wonder-cures
advertised in such glowing terms, and to increase their effectiveness (since he
was quite at a loss to distinguish between their conflicting claims, all couched
in equally high-flown language), he took all the medicines at once. He also
consumed enormous quantities of chocolate, unable to resist the blandishments of
the various manufacturers. He used toiletries in great abundance, and several
times went to have teeth pulled out in order to find work for numerous
philanthropic dentists who swore blind that their extractions would be painless.
Advertising attacked his mind as well as his body. He had bought an extendable bookcase into which he crammed all the books recommended in newspaper reviews. He invented a very ingenious classification system. He arranged books according to their order of merit, that is to say according to the degree of enthusiasm displayed by the reviewers- all subsidized by the publishers. His shelves groaned under the weight of his collection of rubbish recording all the stupidity and corruption of the age. ON the back of each volume, Pierre carefully stuck the blurb which had caused him to buy it, so that each time he opened it he knew in advance how he ought to react. He could laugh all week according to the instructions. The outcome of all this was to turn him in to a moron. Although having become more selective and difficult to please, in the end he bought only those books described as "outstanding masterpieces"- thereby reducing his purchases to some 20 books a week.
We now reach the last act of this harrowing drama. Having heard from the clairvoyant claiming to cure all ills, he rushed 'round to consult her about his own non-existent diseases. The clairvoyant obligingly offered to restore his youth. All he had to do was to drink a certain liquid and take a bath.
Pierre Landré was convinced that such a potion must be the acme of all civilization. He swallowed the drug, jumped into his bath, and regained his youth to such good effect that two hours later he was discovered there, dead. He had a smile on his lips, and a look of ecstasy on his face suggested he had died worshipping the great God, Advertising.
This was no doubt the radical remedy for all ills promised him by the clairvoyant. Even in death Pierre Landré remained the humble devotee of advertising. In his will, he had asked to be embalmed in a casket in accordance with a recently patented instant-chemical process. At the cemetery, the coffin burst open, tipping his wretched corpse into the mud. He had to be buried higgledy-piggledy with the broken bits of plank. Next winter, the rains rotted the papier-mâché of his imitation marble tombstone, and his grave was left an anonymous heap of moldering refuse.