Saturday, 31 December 2011

Six Dollars and Sixty-Six Cents

In Greg Araki's stunning film The Doom Generation, that's the price of everything. Three teenagers meander an apocalyptic roadtrip, pursued by meaningless violence, pursuing non-conformity through sexual pleasure or sexual pleasure through non-conformity depending on how you look at it. As in Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood the apocalypse is readable in signage and symbols; O'Connor's broken car drove down route 666, while Araki's teenagers stop off at gas stations to buy Doritos, nachos, hot-dogs. And everything costs $6.66.

As a very young child, I used to ask my parents nightly; 'Is today the last day?' 'Will tomorrow be the last day?' 'What will happen on the last day?'

Apparently (I don't remember any of this) I concluded – not unhappily – that on the last day, time would start flowing backwards. I think I was pretty pleased with this idea because I was confident this would mean the eventual return of dinosaurs.

Then when I was about 11 someone told me that the ancient Mayan calendar ended in 2012, the logical conclusion being that time would also end there. Dear Quentin, I sympathise thoroughly with your fears about the end of the world, I even wrote a song about it once, I'm sorry for leaving that book lying around.

2012, then; significant because 2 + 0 + 1 + 2 equals 5, always a spiritually potent number, as well as being 2 & 3 (23), which should set alarm bells ringing, plus if you rearrange the 2s just slightly it spells Zion, right? So when it comes to making New Year's resolutions, be careful. I've just made mine and it shot me right in the foot...

See, the torment of working in a bookshop (which I have been doing for the last two months) (which incidentally is where I'm writing from, as not that many people are buying books on New Year's Eve) is learning to love certain editions, certain imprints. The Everyman Library, for example, is just amazing, I'm always jealous of anyone buying one of their editions. So I figured this year I'd aim to read every one of their 100 Essential Reads, in their edition where possible. And yeah, it turns out I've read 34 of them already. Which leaves... Good God! 66.

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