*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A Dovecote

It helps to know what a 'dovecote' was:
They generally contain pigeonholes for the birds to nest.  Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in Western Europe and were kept for their eggs, flesh, and dung.
It struck me that the modern condominium is nothing less than a dovecote for humans: a structure designed to take as many resources from the occupants as possible, without them becoming aware enough to flee.  All depreciate as they age, never mind that this is the end of the condominium bubble in Toronto, and even if it is not (despite condominiums costing what houses with land do), all bubbles eventually burst.  All condos have fees that include costs for future renovations, which are never made enough by the developer so as not to hurt sales, and need to be raised drastically after each decade as the building gets frayed, making them even less attractive to a buyer.

Having rented in one, it also struck me that there were many classes of occupants: owner/occupiers single, married or with children, starting a family or downsizing, gay, straight or other; local renting students one to a bedroom, or foreign several to a room; the requisite subsidized units filled with single mothers, religious families not using birth-control, and patients no longer under the care of the state for their mental/addiction issues; the foreign wealthy putting their wives and children out of the reach of The Party, should their house of cards fall.  It's a rich vein to mine.  It reminds me of Balzac's 'Comédie humaine'.*

How convenient to take on the vast project of a social overview of Toronto, standing in for any Anglophone city, all under one roof. How much more plausible to have the occupant interact with each other, no matter the gender, sexuality or marriage status, race, language, religion or class, because outside of living in the same building people of all of these origins avoid interacting in a city like Toronto, despite its vaunted 'diversity'.  Too easy to make people archetypes, or stereotypes, so I am thinking that the way out is to make each character's virtues stereotypical, and vices particular.

I'll also be able to indulge my hate-on for Toronto, which I only got from living there!  How soulless a city, how skinflint its inhabitants with the public-realm, unimaginative politically, alienated from anything but their workplace and how they conspicuously consume...  I fucking hate that city, and I have to go back.  Even the winters are uniquely useless, not just because they are cold, but they are not consistent enough to keep skiing snow or outdoor rinks, and there's no elevation worth the skiing besides!  You cannot get anywhere by transit, the driving is gridlocked and the cycling made dangerous by twats who think cyclists cause gridlock.  I have lost the plot.

As I do not have an entire life to give to it, short stories is the way, maybe very short stories of not more than ten pages, but that creates its own challenges.  I'd need to plot-out the characters, what each represents, and how I will make each characterization challenge the reader, because that is the point, isn't it?  A reader is either intelligent enough to require the author challenges his presumptions, or so stupid that it is a public service to do so.  I'd have to plan each character's interaction with several, though not all, other characters so that they are all connected by a given limited 'degrees of separation'.  I already have a very particular individual I've met who I need to characterize in a manner of 'plausible deniability': about the most odious I have met - works for a PR firm, or did when they covered the ass of a criminal member of Canada's establishment.

*Sure I have only read 'Le Père Goriot', but it supplied me with one of my favourite quotations: "At the origin of every great fortune lies a crime."  I should learn what that was in French...  "Derrière chaque grande fortune se cache un crime": I love the Internet!

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