I speak of Coupland's 1994 undersized volume of thematically linked short stories, Life After God.
Each story is divided into multiple short sections. Each section is prefaced with one of Coupland's (who once attended art school) whimsical felt-tip pen drawings.
Like this one on p. 103 where he's remembering the old distaster flick from the '70s, The Poseidon Adventure:
As I'm was reading the title story I reached a section that has a drawing of what appears to be a stack of People magazines.
There ensued a conversation between the narrator and his friend Kristy:
I mentioned to her one of my favorite fantasies: to be in a coma
for one year and wake up and have a whole year's backlog
worth of news to catch up on.
"Me too!" she cried. "Ffity-two whole issues of People to
catch up on—it'd be like heroin—information overdosing."
There it was, The Van Winkle Project in a nutshell. The excitement of doing something so non-standard, so weird, and the ecstasy of when it comes to an end!
But wait a minute.
After all this time (see the counter over there on the right clicking off days, hours, minutes since I awoke) the ecstasy of information appears to me to be a bit overrated. If this is heroin, it hasn't seemed as alluring as mother's milk that I'd want to fill myself with. In fact, after going on two years of being "awake," I have yet to make a concerted effort to find out much about what I missed during 2010-2011.
No, I want to tell Mr. Coupland's characters, the real trip is the coma itself. Its's about finding a way to remain immune to the daily onslaught of stuff we don't particularly need to know. At the same time it's important to leave space in the brain for what really matters.
What really matters? The very things that depressed, over-consumed, drugged-alcoholed, junk-fooded narrators of Life After God find themselves drawn to at their better moments in these stories:
- their pets
- simple memories of childhood
- floating in the swimming pool
Call the kind of life I'm commending to myself a "conscious coma" since the oblivion is not total. Who wants to give up the bad stuff and at the same time miss out on the good?
Hey, maybe I need a T-shirt that says that:
All this is to say that I'm once again longing for the peace and extra time made available when I cut back on my curiosity about the larger world, a world that I can't begin to effect.