Ask Questions

Submitted by Chris Webster on Sat, 2006/08/12 - 05:06
Douglas Coupland, 'Girlfriend in a Coma'

"Every day for the rest of your lives, all your living moments are to be spent making others aware of this need - the need to probe and drill and examine and locate the words that take us to beyond ourselves.

"Scrape. Feel. Dig. Believe. Ask.

"Ask questions, no, screech questions out loud - while kneeling in front of the electric doors at Safeway, demanding other citizens ask questions along with you - while chewing up old textbooks and spitting the words onto downtown sidewalks - outside the Planet Hollywood, outside the stock exchange and outside the Gap.

"Grind questions onto the glass on photocopiers. Scrape challenges onto old auto parts and throw them off of bridges so that future people digging in the mud will question the world, too. Carve eyeballs into tyre treads and onto shoe leathers so that every trail speaks of thinking and questioning and awareness. Design molecules that crystallise into question marks. Make bar-codes print out fables, not prices. You can't even throw away a piece of litter unless it has a question stamped on it - a demand for people to reach a finer place.

"Ask whatever challenges dead and thoughtless beliefs. Ask: When did we become human beings and stop being whatever it was we were before this? Ask: What was the specific change that made us human? Ask: Why do people not particularly care about their ancestors more than three generations back? Ask: Why are we unable to think of any real future beyond, say, a hundred years from now? Ask: How can we begin to think of the future as something enormous before us that also includes us? Ask: Having become human, what is it that we are now doing or creating that will transform us into whatever it is that we are slated to next become?

"Even if it means barking on street corners, that's what you have to do, each time baying louder than before. You must testify. There is no other choice.

"What is destiny? Is there a difference between personal and collective destiny? 'I always knew I was going to be a movie star.' 'I always knew I was meant to murder.' Is Destiny artificial? Is it unique to Man? Where did Destiny come from?

"You're going to be forever homesick, walking through a cold railway station until the end, whispering strange ideas about existence into the ears of children. Your lives will be tinged with urgency, as though rescuing buried men and lassooing drowning horses. You'll be mistaken for crazies. You may well end up foaming at the mouth in a central Canadian drug clinic, magic-markering ideas onto your thighs which are bony from scouring the land on foot. Your eyes will always feel as if you've been staring at the sun, you're bodies seemingly aching to cool them by staring at the moon. There aren't enough words for 'transform'. You'll invent more.

"And you're going to care about what people think? As if they care! And you know the truth - or at least you'll always be headed in its direction. It doesn't matter how stupid or crazy or extreme you become. There is no other meaning. This is it.

"In your old lives you had nothing to live for. Now you do. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Go clear the land for a new culture - bring your axes, scythes and guns. I know you have the necessary skills - explosives, medicine, engineering, media knowledge and the ability to camouflage yourselves. If you're not spending every waking moment of your life radically rethinking the nature of the world - if you're not plotting every moment boiling the carcass of the old order - then you're wasting your day."



Niels (not verified)

Sat, 2007/12/22 - 04:07

Coupland is amazing. I have always loved the ending of this novel. Keeps me questioning.
Are you familiar with the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze?
“A work of art should bring forth the problems and questions that concern us rather than provide answers.”

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