Thursday, December 26, 2019

"Nietzsche and the Burbs"

Lars Iyer is a Reader in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, where he was formerly a longtime lecturer in philosophy. He is the author of the novels in the Spurious Trilogy, and more recently the widely acclaimed Wittgenstein Jr.

Iyer applied the Page 69 Test to his newest novel, Nietzsche and the Burbs, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Questions for Miss Lilly: How long will the polders hold back the ocean, miss? What about the dikes? How long do you give human civilization in general, miss? Do you think the end will come gradually, or all at once, miss? How many people do you think will survive the catastrophe, miss? Do you think there will be cannibalism, miss? It’s going to be bad—very bad, isn’t it, miss?

We don’t inherit the Earth from our parents, but borrow it from our children, that’s what they say, isn’t it, miss? Do you ever feel it’s your fault, miss—climate change? You and your generation? Do you ever want to repent, miss—cover your head with ashes?

We have to downshift, don’t we, miss? We have to transition out of our lifestyles. No more four-by-fours ... no travelling by car ... no flying overseas ... We’ll have to do without pilot lights, won’t we miss? And we can’t let the water run when we brush our teeth. And we should piss while we shower—isn’t that the idea? And we’ll have to recycle even harder, won’t we miss? Go ever more local...

Really, we have to cull the population, miss—it’s quite clear. There should be a tax on babies, miss. On people who live alone. We should agree to sterilization, shouldn’t we, miss? In fact, we should just do away with ourselves. That might solve it, miss.
My characters, older teens in the last year of school, are convinced that the world as it stands cannot be redeemed. They’re drawn to apocalypticism – to the hope for the destruction of the present world. At the stage of the novel represented by the text on page 69, they welcome approaching climatic and financial catastrophe, and the resultant dissolution of current social and political norms. As such, their geography teacher Miss Lilly’s calls for geoengineering, recycling and ecological awareness fall on deaf ears. Let it all come down is their watchword. Let chaos break forth, let the floodwaters rise and the apocalyptic beasts be released…

My characters will end up nurturing other kinds of hope, notably in the music they perform together in their band, Nietzsche and the Burbs. They go on to affirm a love of fate – of the senselessness of chaos – that, they hope, will transform the suburbs and perhaps the world, too. But it is really in their friendship that they show their greatest hope. Who would they be without each other, and without their enigmatic lead singer, Nietzsche?
Visit Lars Iyer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue