Hell is Other People Especially in Daylight

Me and friend F. on Friday night went to this contemporary art show which was generally unimpressive but still fun. We did enjoy the dance performance, the one with the pallets and the soft soil. Also we liked the photos hanged outside high on the walls of the surrounding buildings, that you could see only by looking through certain windows and using the provided binoculars. Music in the garden was kind of hideous though, so we complained loud about it and headed to another place where we had a glass of wine and discussed the fog over Abu Dhabi airport in December, a kick scooter as a vehicle to distract little L. from her beloved pushchair that has become too small for her anyway, and hell is other people especially in daylight.

Driving home, out of curiosity, I switched on the local rock station which was supposed to be broadcasting live from the art show, only to discover that it wasn’t broadcasting live at all. What’s the point in airing the usual extra-boring compilation? Anyway, I used to love those Friday night compilations, but now I find them kind of outdated. They lack the genuine rock classics, they lack the new-wave nostalgia, and at the same they’re frustrating my natural need to listen to very new, very good stuff. Friend F. agrees, to the point that she has started listening to the radio station of the motorway company instead. As outdated as we ourselves are, we really believe that some music from this century should be incorporated, and rest assured that we are not just quoting from the Big Chill.

Haven’t you learned anything from certain rock stars ageing with such tremendous grace? Life goes on you know.

Now I don’t want to complain about the weather here. It’s always been like this during the summer, so there’s really no point. But I went to buy some eggs from my neighbour today and she told me that her hens laid only four eggs over the week end, half as usual, because of the unnerving heat.

There’s not much you can do outside in these conditions, except for swimming. You can risk a few activities indoors, but you have to be careful of dehydration, and tv in July is always frustrating. I was watching a rerun of Knight Rider the other day where the baddies burn KITT down leaving only a blackened shell. So while the good engineers at FLAG work to rebuild it, Bonnie needs to reprogram its sentient algorithms from scratch, complete with Asimovian rules and a touch of pedantic wit. Micheal of course is in distress and urges her to be quick. Now. Do you have any idea, Michael, how much code you need to write in order to develop a sentient machine? You don’t, do you? Well in real life you need an awful lot of bloody lines of stupid code, just to fake some kind of intelligence. In that mildly sci-fi California of yours things may be quicker, but you’ll still need most of the episode. So leave Bonnie alone and go freak out about friendship and artificial intelligence somewhere else, but still somewhere where you can see you, ok?

You know, today I was trying to decide which is my favourite Coupland book between Generation X and Life after god, when I came across a page I had completely forgotten about.

I’ve bee blogging for years and years now only because it eases my everyday stress. Years just enjoying the weird sense of accomplishment that keeping trace of small things provides me.

I own a signed copy of this book and it’s no coincidence I believe.

My mind then wandered. I thought of this: I thought of how every day each of us experiences a few little moments that have just a bit more resonance than other moments—we hear a word that sticks in our mind—or maybe we have a small experience that pulls us out of ourselves, if only briefly—we share a hotel elevator with a bride in her veils, say, or a stranger gives us a piece of bread to feed to the mallard ducks in the lagoon; a small child starts a conversation with us in a Dairy Queen—or we have an episode like the one I had with the M&M cars back at the Husky station.

And if we were to collect these small moments in a notebook and save them over a period of months we would see certain trends emerge from our collection—certain voices would emerge that have been trying to speak through us. We would realize that we have been having another life altogether; one we didn’t even know was going on inside us. And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real—this clunky day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small silent moments which are the true story-making events of our lives.

Douglas Coupland, Life After God

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