It is both true and a truism that blogging is one of the chief causes of illiteracy. Before the establishment of a veritable leper’s colony of unlearned logorrhoea-sufferers on the terra nova of the internet, everyone in the world was at least as literate as Martin Amis (at least). Then the bloggers started popping up everywhere and doing unspeakable things to grammar and the once impregnable boundary between literal and metaphorical language. Of course, buried beneath this flood of 21st-century vandals were a few diamonds in the rough who carried the flame for good sense. Their blogs made us laugh and made us cry but they did so without splitting infinitives and mixing metaphors. But the damage was done, and we are all the worse for it.
Bearing all of this mind, The Many Deaths of John Le Baptiste constitutes a new low in the history of the weblog. To describe Le Baptiste’s tortured imitation of English as doggerel would be to grossly insult the abortive product of the attempt to crossbreed a dog with a cockerel from whence the term originates. Sure, that hound-bird was a fleshy, feathered tumour of wet-nosed horror and an offence to God and nature, but it was less monstrous than what John Le Baptiste calls writing. For one thing, Le Baptiste appears only to have mastered the first fifteen letters of the alphabet fully (except j), and for another, he seems to think that commas are letters. On the rare occasions he manages to produce something resembling a sentence, it typically combines babyish exclamations (‘whelky-elk’ for ‘whelk’), pseudo-gangsterisms (‘straight up now dogboy biddy-bo), management-speak (‘is 110% isn’t not good enough, is it?’) and phrases that one can only assume Le Baptiste takes for poeticisms (‘upspringing egg, I love thee’).
Quite apart from the abhorrent language of this blog, the premise on which it is founded is both cruel and illogical. In essence, each entry describes the different ways in which John Le Baptiste claims to have died. It is grossly insensitive and one can only imagine what any dead people would think of it were they to read it. To first go through the discomfort and inconvenience of dying, only to be confronted with an illiterate pipsqueak making light of the whole ordeal! It’s sick! I know that if I were a dead person and I discovered this blog I would be livid. But it seems like anything is permissible in this permissive society.
Additionally, the essential concept of the blog is deeply flawed. It is a fundamental rule of the universe that you can only die once, unless you are successfully resuscitated shortly after. This Le Baptiste character claims to have been poisoned and shredded into little pieces on two separate occasions. I sincerely doubt that if this really did occur, Le Baptiste could have been resuscitated afterwards. Either he is lying about having died, or, and this is worse, he has already died, in which case he is a demon or spectre who has been sent to torment us and to corrupt our language. Whatever the explanation, this is not the sort of stuff you would want your child, grandmother or servant to read.
Most probably, John Le Baptiste is not a demon or a liar, but instead a confused and stunted tramp who has wandered into an internet café and is trying, futilely, to make sense of his own pointless, urine-soaked existence and to draw the attention of the world to his plight, so that they might point him in the direction of the nearest off-license. The sooner the world does this, the sooner the internet will be free of his unconscionable waffle.