Power Outage

george-clooney-gravity-image

Half of North America just lost their Facebook.”–George Clooney as Matt Kowalski, Gravity

I slept through a thunderstorm.  I woke up to a power outage.

Three trees down on our street.  Around the block, I saw a tree tangled in telephone wires.

As I foraged for coffee and batteries, I felt like a character in a postapocalyptic science fiction novel.  In one of my favorite books, Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor, the narrator describes the disintegration of society caused by power outages and food shortages.  This stunning novel is a “memoir” of a future of regression and barbarism, but also a reminder of techniques of off-the-grid survival. (Gangs, barter, and flea markets are important.)  The future may be most difficult for those of us who remember civilization, Lessing hints.

How will we cope?

No internet, no interrupted thoughts, no ads appearing in the corners of webpages.

What is off-the-grid survival anyway?

Being off-the-grid can be a good thing.

We are so used to looking up information online.

The phone book works just as well.

While I waited for power, I got a lot of reading done.  I am absolutely loving Karl Ove Knausgaard’s nonfiction novel, My Struggle, which I read with the same voracity I do Doris Lessing’s autobiographical Martha Quest novels.  Knausgaard doesn’t change his character’s name.  The narrator is Karl Ove.  The events in the book mirror the author’s life.

Later, when the power came back, I read an interview with him at Amazon.  He says definitions are the enemy of the novel.

I just tried to write a novel. This was the only way I could do it at the time. So no, no active down-tearing of anything. But for me, these books definitely are novels. I didn´t try to represent my life, but wanted to use my life as a kind of raw material for a novelistic search for meaning or for meaningful patterns. I use all the novels tools, I can describe one day over three hundred pages, or a year in a sentence. It isn´t fiction, though, it´s non-fiction, but it isn’t a documentary or a memoir either: it’s a non fiction novel.

I really recommend getting off the net to read this fascinating modern classic.

Less screen time is more reading time.

But thank God the power is back on.  How lucky we are to have electricity!

5 thoughts on “Power Outage

  1. I always feel we rather take electricity for granted – so much depends on it nowadays. Having said that, I can cope with the odd outage in the summer but I hate them in the cold winter months!

  2. Have you read Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest? I can’t remember. That’s one of my favorite after the electricity stops / living off-the-grid books.

    I’ve got the first volume of the Knausgaard. I’m just waiting for the right time to start it.

  3. Karen, amazing how much difference “power” makes. It IS worse in the winter.

    Susan, I’ve never even heard of Heglund. I’ll put it on “the list.”:)

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