By the time Life After God was released i’d had enough of Douglas Coupland. In my mind it was released after Microserfs… but thinking about it, maybe it was Shampoo Planet that disappointed me, caused me to skip Life After God, but still read Microserfs. All very complicated. The point being that it has been a long time since i’ve read any Douglas Coupland.
The premise of all these short pieces is that without god people lives lack any meaning. Not having been raised with a concept of god / religion, a void opens up in life, that cannot be filled without appealing to a higher power. Alright… if you say so.
What really struck me was how well Coupland manages to evoke the feeling of living of living on the west coast of the states. Life ‘out there’ takes place on a set that is, out of the cities, indescribably huge, majestically wild and beautiful. The cities are soulless urban sprawl, new in terms of culture, but already shabby and unloved. Society, family units, and i suppose even individuals, feels somehow atomised, blown apart by the ferocious drive to be as individual / unique / special as possible. For a lot of people their work is so abstract or virtual that it is pretty much devoid of meaning, of relation to anything concrete in life. Trading pieces of paper that represent fragments of other pieces of paper; marketplaces where no one will ever walk and no goods will ever be seen; advertising / marketing ideas that can only sell other ideas…
My feeling is that it’s not so much the lack of a higher power that drives all this angst but, people living to far away from their Dunbar number. It’s all very well striving for individuality, and redefining your social interactions in a virtual world, but the truth remains that we are still some form of social ape.