Douglas Coupland speaks difficult truths. Generation X rang true for those of us in our twenties: I get it, they’re not living, they’re shopping. Microserfs messed with the digital hopes of our thirties. Now, PlayerOne tells a tale for our fourties, an unexpected and worthy selection for the 2010 Massey Lectures.
Five men and women of various ages and motives occupy an airport cocktail lounge when oil hits $250/barrel and rises. Chaos and violence follow. Those sheltered inside the lounge contend with a new world without oil. What does it mean to be human? Love and sex, jobs and money, family and faith; all come under scrutiny. Life as they know it is unraveling. The end of oil is a realistic prospect. Last Tuesday, the International Energy Agency warned that oil prices could average $113 a barrel by 2035. Are there too many humans casting too heavy a footprint on the planet? Were we meant to live past fourty?
With so many people on the planet, what is our unique story? Information overload has washed out our individuality. Death is closer than expected. PlayerOne is an anti-story, telling small fractured narratives in the absence of a grand coherent one. Every decade we observed the waning influence of a layer of infrastructure: our parents and schools in our twenties, our jobs in our thirties, religion in our fourties. What institution will give us meaning now? Frightening, but exciting too, like a rocket that has just left the atmosphere. Do we have enough fuel onboard to venture forward?