How To Exercise Without Leaving The House
So I was wandering about on Amazon, cruising for a casual pick-up in the world of literature, and stumbled across (then purchased) Christopher Hart’s ‘Lost Children’, a novel which has one of those chapters destined to be forever engraved in your mind – this one involves a terrified, unqualified British doctor and a very angry Central American general with astounding ideas about world power and a fist-sized chunk of flesh missing from his arse.
And there in Mr Hart’s book was a reading list from said general, so I decided to check out the titles on Amazon to see if they were genuine (being a bit of an expert in the art of making up silly book titles and mixing them with real ones). And they were. So I started reading the enlightening ‘Guns, Steel and Germs’, about why some countries develop more quickly than others, and this led me to ‘The Dictator’s Handbook’, about why incredibly awful fascists are sometimes what the world needs to spur the sheeplike populace into action.
It was a slippery slope. The idea that civilisation is the last flash in the pan at the end of evolution suggests a reason why we don’t have alien contact, ie. they’re at the same stage too and the odds of us meeting temporally are infinitesimal, thank god. I wanted to know more.
From there the recommendations went to ‘The World After Us’, about what would happen to the natural and built environment if all humans suddenly disappeared. And now we’re playing paper chase with novels, scientific non-fiction, and somehow I finally wind up at ‘Origin’ by Mr Dan Brown, which has a seed of an intriguing idea buried beneath his trademark remedial prose, which reads like Michael Crichton translated into Trump tweets.
And suddenly it dawned on me that I had accidentally replicated the theoretical rise and fall of civilisation posited by the general to begin with. Oh, and I’d lost a whole day.
This is writers’ displacement therapy at work. I now return reluctantly to my manuscript edit, a little wiser and feeling definitely older.