Friday, October 26, 2007



Roger is a sad middle aged man who sees little hope of change or redemption from this point in his life until the time that he is food for worms in a few more decades. He is missing the liberation that can come from living your life within the context of a larger narrative, one that takes you out of yourself and into a realm where your connection to the larger world and to others is more important than who you are .

Perhaps this is Coupland's point, that Roger is the natural bi-product of our individualistic cultural milieu, one that teaches us how to strive for the "good life", but offers few resources to deal with its inevitable collapse at times.

Here are Roger's jaded observations about what they should be really teaching you in the school of "Real Life";

...Falling out of love happens as quickly as falling in
...Good -looking people with strong, fluorinated teeth get things handed to them on platters
...Animals spend time with you only if you feed them
...People armed with shopping carts who know what they want and where they're going will always cream clueless people standing in the middle of aisles holding vague shopping lists
....Time speeds up in a terrifying manner in your mid thirties

In the spirit if this I thought I would add a few curriculum items from my own school of "Real Life";
  • Venting and cursing in your car while stuck in standstill traffic is a futile endeavor, and it only increases the awareness that you are spending countless moments of your life stuck in a people mover, spewing pollution into the atmosphere so you can get to work and thus be able to pay for this very source of your endless frustration and impotent rage.
  • People are not as preoccupied with you as you are - this actually hits you as you leave adolescence and enter early adulthood - that form of egocentric thinking known as "imaginary audience syndrome" dissolves - kind of liberating and frightening at the same time. when you first realize this
  • "Independence" is highly overrated
  • Falling in love with someone is the easy part (really) - whereas staying in love is a helluva lot of work. It is not about maintaining an emotional state of "love", but it is the manifestation of a series of actions whereas as you actively, and consciously choose to love another person through your actions - therefore we progress from the involuntary (falling in love) to the voluntary (choosing to remain in love) - I honestly believe this


I am on about page 84 - lots of writing back and forth between Roger & Bethany via Roger's diary. These folks are quite sure that there lives will continue in a meaningless direction until they die. Lots of detachment from the larger social order, peppered with a great deal of anxiety over a sense of impending apocalypse (i.e a typical early 21st century novel?)

As usual, there is a great use of metafiction as well via Roger's own (poorly) written novel Glove Pond, about similar middle aged characters also with thwarted ambition. Excerpts from Roger's Glove Pond novel are infused throughout the book, and you can see Roger working out his own issues through is gin-soaked characters. Perhaps this is also Coupland's playful way to explore the cathartic, and often self revelatory process of writing, albeit in a humorous manner.

The Roger & Bethany characters seem to be on a one way ticket to loserville, yet as usual Coupland has an ability to find something that is redeeming, however faintly, when like-minded misfits find connections with each other and can therefore infuse some form of meaning into their lives. Perhaps this is what makes life more bearable for some. More to come....

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