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JPod :: Douglas Coupland

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Douglas Coupland told another fictious story from modern working life in his new novel JPod. Our main character upon visiting his mother:

I walked into the kitchen, unchanged since Ronald Reagan ruled Earth.

Here's a taste of what was going on in the cubicle landscape of JPod work space, which was some kind of gaming development community:

Cowboy said, “I feel chilled or something.”

Kaitlin, surprising us all from behind her cubicle wall, snorted and said (without standing up), “You feel chilled because you have no character. You're a depressing assemblage of pop culture influences and cancelled emotions, driven by the sputtering engine of only the most banal form of capitalism. You spend your life feeling as if you're perpetually on the brink of being obsolete—whether it's labour market obsolescence or cultural unhipness. And it's all catching up with you. You live and die by the development cycle. You're glamorized drosophila flies, with the company regulating your life cycles at whim. If it isn't a budget-driven eighteen-month game production schedule, it's a five-year hardware obsolescence schedule. Every five years you have to throw away everything you know and learn a whole new set of hardware and software specs, relegating what once was critical to our lives to the cosmic slag heap.”

Cowboy considered this. “So, then, what's wrong with that?”

“What's wrong with that is that you might just as well be tyrannized cotton-mill workers in rural Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. You might as well be stitching Nikes together in some quasi-corrupt archipelago nation in Asia in return for badly ventilated dorm rooms and $1.95 a day.”

Silence.

Loaded silence.

Cowboy said, “Do you have to be so political about it?”

Nothing new around here either, one might think, which brings us to a more personal contemplation:

But honestly—do I have a personality? Do any of us? I scoured my life and saw no overriding purpose, just my love affair with computer games—my old SOL and the 8808s in particular. If nothing else, I was pleased to be able to earn a living within an industry that's increasingly more corporate and bland and soul-killing, but... but then I got to wondering if I even possessed the ability to fall in love with another human being and... I began to feel like such a module, especially compared to Kaitlin, who was such a firebrand tonight. I couldn't help but wonder what she's like when she removes all of her brakes.

Ethan, the main character, got his first-hand experiences with more aspects of the global economy. Here's one for you:

... Kam and his buddies made a toast that appeared to be to me. What the heck—I drank it—and, three drinks later, I was catapulted into that fetid pit of ritualized humiliation called karaoke.

Kam clapped his hands, and the male technician running the karaoke machine giggled as he put on, yes, Bonnie Tyler's “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” I was doomed.

What is the science behind humiliation?

Horrifying, the first time, wasn't it?

Remember how, back in 1990, if you used a cellphone in public you looked like a total asshole? We're all assholes now.

More contemporary lack of optimism was be found:

Gore is Nature's way of saying, “There are too many human beings on the planet, and I'm trying to rectify this any way I can. sars didn't work, but trust me, I'm cooking up something better. In the interim, please kill lots of yourselves.”

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