Q&Q attempted to speak with Douglas Coupland for our April 16th article about his unorthodox 2010 Massey Lectures title, which will take the form of a novel entitled Player One: What is to Become of Us? Coupland wasn’t able to meet our deadline, but he sent an apologetic e-mail a week later explaining that a new prescription drug had waylaid him. (“Today is the first day where my head feels like my head in a week. Avoid Dexedrine. It is an evil drug, but it did allow me to remember pi to 70 decimal places,” he wrote.)
The following is a transcript of our exchange:
Q&Q: Why did you decide to write the lecture as a novel?
DC: A narrative seemed like the most efficient and accessible way of putting forth a large number of propositions about life in the year 2010. I’ve never done traditional lectures… I think that would have felt dutiful and homeworky.
Q&Q: What’s the novel about?
DC: It presents a wide array of modes to view the mind, the soul, the body, the future, eternity, technology, and media.
Q&Q: Where and when is it set?
DC: In a B-list Toronto airport hotel’s cocktail lounge in August of 2010.
Q&Q: Will it be a departure in terms of style, in order to accommodate the lecture format?
DC: I’ve only ever seen Margaret [Atwood]‘s and Wade [Davis]‘s lectures, so I don’t know for sure.
Q&Q: When you were first asked to give a Massey lecture, what was your reaction?
DC: From what I’ve learned, everybody freaks out when asked. It’s five highly scrutinized hours that are, in some way, a crystallization of your deepest soul. On the other hand, what a great challenge.
Q&Q: Did you say yes right away?
DC: I fudged, but never said no. I said no and yes and no and yes several times for the McLuhan bio for Penguin, but for this one I had some really wonderful, serene discussions with Bernie Lucht and John Fraser, and they got me past the difficulty curve.
Q&Q: Have you been a fan of previous lectures/books in the series?
DC: I’ve only seen the two, both of which I loved.