SHAMPOO PLANET
DOUGLAS COUPLAND

Shampoo Planet is a great book by Douglas Coupland. It was the second book by Coupland that I read. The first one was Microserfs and that was even more fantastic. Shampoo Planet is less geeky than Microserfs, but still very much something I could relate to. The main character, twenty-something Tyler, takes a trip to Europe and becomes involved with a girl named Stephanie while he ends his last few weeks of the trip in Paris. After he returns home, and to his girlfriend Ann-Louise, he receives a postcard from Stephanie and her friend Monique that they are coming to visit. This visit wrecks havok on his lifestyle.

This is an excerpt from later in the book where Daniel is down on his luck away from home again.

I am writing a list of tragic character flaws on my dollar bills with a felt pen. I am thinking of the people in my universe and distilling for each of the people one flaw in their character that will lead to their downfall - the flaw that will be their undoing.

Jasmine, Anna-Louise, Daisy, Mark, Dan, Stephanie, Monique, Kiwi, Harmony, Sky, Gaia, Mei-Lin, davidson, Pony, Grandma and Grandpa, Eddie Woodman, Jim and Lorraine Jarvis - Everybody's here. Even me. And More.

What I write are not sins, I write tragedies, And I am writing these tragedies in a manner that the recipients can easily absorb. And I won't say whose flaw is whose. I continue. In no particular order:

YOU DISQUISE YOUR LAZINESS AS PRIDE

YOU ARE PARALYZED BY THE FACT
THAT CRUELTY IS OFTEN AMUSING

YOU PRETEND TO BE MORE ECCENTRIC
THAN YOU ACTUALLY ARE BECAUSE YOU
WORRY YOU ARE AN INTERCHANGEABLE COG

YOU MISTAKE MOTION FOR GROWTH
AND ARE LURED INTO VEXING SITUATIONS

YOU DEFEND OTHER PEOPLE'S IDEAS
AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUR OWN

YOU STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DO WELL

YOU RE UNABLE TO VISUALIZE
YOURSELF IN A FUTURE

YOUR INABILITY TO SUSTAIN SEXUAL INTEREST
IN JUST ONE OTHER PERSON DRAINS YOUR
LIFE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF INTIMACY

YOUR OWN ABILITY TO RATIONALIZE YOUR BAD DEEDS
MAKES YOU BELIEVE THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE
IS AS AMORAL AS YOURSELF

YOU WILLINGLY IGNORE THE SMALL, GENTLE
OBSERVATIONS IN LIFE WHICH YOU KNOW
ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT

Stephanie is mutilating cash, too, garnishing my notes with mess red lipstick kisses as we bring into the foreground the secret language of money - biting the hand that feeds us.

YOUR FEAR OF CHANGE IS TOO
CLEARLY VISIBLE IN YOUR EYES

YOU ARE WASTING YOUR YOUTH,
YOUR TIME, AND YOUR MONEY
BECAUSE YOU WON'T ACKNOWLEDGE
YOUR SHORT COMINGS

YOUR REFUSAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE
THE DARK SIDE OF HUMANITY
MAKES YOU PREY TO THAT DARK SIDE

YOU WORRY THAT IF YOU LOWERD YOUR GUARD,
EVEN FOR ONE SECOND,
YOUR WHOLE WORLD WILL
DISINTEGRATE INTO CHAOS

YOU WAIT FOR FATE TO BRING ABOUT
THE CHANGES IN LIFE WHICH YOU
SHOULD BE BRINGING ABOUT YOURSELF.

YOU ARE DAZED BYT HE EASE
WITH WHICH OBLITERATION CAN BE OBTAINED

YOU FEEL YOU HAVE MORE MEMORIES
THAN YOU HAVE ENERGY
TO PROCESS THOSE MEMORIES

YOU ARE UNABLE TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN FACADE
AND SUBSTANCE

{Danie's felt-penning on money becomes a compulsive habit throughout the rest of the book. Here are the collected snipetts of these revelations:}

I AM AFRAID OF THE DARK AGES

LET'S JUST HOPE WE ACCIDENTALLY BUILD GOD

IMAGINE
YOURSELF
BEFRIENDING
A MONSTER

YOU ARE NEVER FAR
FROM
THE SOUND OF
AN ENGINE

GROW
A
TAIL

WE'RE ALL
THEME PARKS

TECHNOLOGY
FAVORS
HORRIBLE PEOPLE

ONLY DEMOCRACY
SAVES US FROM
THE RAVAGE
OF
BEING ANIMALS

Other passages include:

Life is maybe like deep-sea fishing. We wake up in the morning, we cast our nets into the waters, and, if we are lucky, at day's end we will have netted one - maybe two - small fish. Occasionally we will net a seahorse and sometimes a shark - or a life preserver or an iceburg, or a monster. And in our dreams at night one assess our Catch of the Day - the treasures of this long, slow process of accumulation - and we eat the flesh of our fish, casting away their bones and weaving the memories of their once-glinting skins into our souls.

and also:

Imagine you are sitting down in a chair and ona screen before you you are shown a bloody, ripping film of yourself undergoing surgery. The surgery saved your life. It was pivotal in making you you. But you don't remember it. Or do you? Do we understand the events that make us who we are? Do we ever understand the factors that made us do the things we do?

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