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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Life After God

Douglas Coupland
Life After God

Life After God
Somewhere along the line, somebody decided that suffering is beautiful, and a million sad poets were born. I don’t buy it. Suffering is horrible. Certainly one can find beauty in any situation, and certainly beauty stands out in contrast to squalor and misery, and that sometimes makes it resonate all the more. But too many writers get confused, and think that by writing squalor and misery, they’ve written beauty. It just ain’t so. Coupland makes the mistake in “Life After God”. His characters are dejected and depressed, but there’s no art in them. There doesn’t seem to be any message other than the fact that everyday life is kind of pointless, which is certainly true if you live a pointless kind of life. But that doesn’t make a character beautiful. On the contrary, it makes a character whiny and horrible. And that ain’t art.
Mushroom Cloud
Perhaps ironically, probably the best story in the book is “The Wrong Sun”, an essay about nuclear holocaust. It works precisely because it doesn’t wallow in self-perceived personal suffering. Instead, it just presents a series of first-person narratives about people’s lives when The Bomb detonates. The TV goes to static. The shopping mall collapses. Office chairs are overturned. But there’s no panic or sadness in the narratives — it’s a dramatic event described blandly, instead of a bland event described melodramatically. In that sense, “The Wrong Sun” reverses the formula of the rest of the book, and for that reason it stands out.

I guess when I was a teenager, I had a taste for melodrama. I guess I figured that if I made myself suffer enough, I would just *have* to make good art out of it. And from that angle, “Life After God” might have appealed to me. Now it just seems self-indulgent. God is dead. Fine. Your neighbors aren’t. Go give ’em a hand with something, and get over yourself.

Ye Bees

Bees 2008
This was the big weekend — I went to North Carolina and picked up my bees. The installation was pretty quick and easy — I had the hives ready in advance, sprayed the bees down, popped open the package, set the queen in place, and dumped the ladies in. So much for the easy part. Now the hard part: managing them and keeping them healthy. Judging by the poop that’s collected on the outside of the hive, I’m afraid the girls have dysentery, hopefully just from the damp weather and travel stress. If it keeps up for a few days and they don’t clear it on their own, I’ll probably have to look into nosema treatment, which would be a bummer so early in the project.

I’ll check back with the girls in about a week to see if they’re still shitting the hive and to see how they’re getting on with their new queens. With any luck, I’ll be able to post photos of healthy brood in a couple of weeks. Anyway, the full photo spread is here.