I am not a regular dreamer. I don’t mean in terms of not being a garden variety utopianist. Nor do I mean my dreams are so crazy that surrealist Dali would’ve been shocked into a soberiety of normativity. I mean I don’t regularly remember dreaming. Well!! I was rudely awoken far too early this morning by a dream I was having. I am sure many of those who were slaughtered in the classic 80s schlock A Nightmare on Elm St film series would’ve loved the ability. It is an ability I didn’t know I had. I don’t think it is actually an ability, but it is a very bizarre experience.
It must have something to do with a book I am reading, which I heartily recommend to EVERYONE (well anyone interested enough to read my blog!). It is called 101 Reykjavik, by Hallgrimur Helgason. And, no, I have not been smoking crack and playing word games with the graffiti in the public toilets. It is a novel, thus:
Hlynur is a true product of our postmodern global culture. Well beyond slackerdom, he lives at home with his mother and depends on social welfare. He’s a quick-witted and articulate young man, and there’s nothing wrong with him — other than a total lack of ambition, an off-kilter sense of morality, and a nagging set of existential woes.
An Icelandic novel. It reminds me of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. Every sentence is an idea that explodes. The text is an expressive incendiary. It is like each of my thoughts had become a pyromaniac in the fireworks factory of my imagination.
I was hooked from the first page; in fact, hooked from the very first word: “Anyway.” Ha! Those who have spoken to me in person, or online via MSN or something, will probably have figured out I deploy ‘anyway’ as a discursive segway enabling device. Change the topic. Anyway…
Hlynur’s utter lack of ambition and ambivalence to the conditions of his “existential woes” resonates with me. One of the recurring problems I have with living in this world is the massive gap between being ‘successful’ and doing what is possibly the right thing to do. They are not the same thing. The tension between a fear of sliding up/down the social mobility snakes and ladders game and the horrific violence wrought upon the world through our very ‘success’ is literally unthinkable (in the sense that no matter how much we would like to be able to subtract the externalities of a situation away from the situation itself to decide on the ‘truth’ the event evelopes (as Badiou would have us do), the global complexities always elide a ‘universally’ sufficient or even competent understanding).
There is no better example than the current state of global politics in western democracies. In most countries half of the population realises that the current state of affairs just cannot continue while the other half are locked in a mindset that privileges the most successful and efficient facilitators of the current global quagmire.
This book is one expression of being in-between and not really knowing what to do about it (a bit like having both Blogger and Haloscan comments on a blog:). I think there are many people of my generation who feel like this. It is the near-pathological social lethargy experienced at a time when ‘urgency’ has become a fashionable academic buzzword for those who flirt with an ethical radicalism, or it is the compulsion to do something — that something needs to be done — in the face of the horrific stupidity of the world around us. I often feel both tendencies at the same anxiety producing time.
Anyway, I am going back to bed ;). And, thank you, Helene, for giving me this book.