Room48: Cannons, The West, and Dream Girls [see previous post on radicalization]
—I can see why you looked like his dream girl.
—Not hitting on you. Just saying you’re an important character, an embodiment of an ideal.
—And a plot device.
—No, because you are your own person. You have an ideal, but you do not conform to his imagination.
—Namely, I didn’t fall in love with him, because he’s crazy.
—He saw himself as a cowboy. And you were the West.
—I told him how I liked Westerns, and how I identified with the West. Cowboys on the prairie. I think he read into it more than I did.
—But that’s the point. Reading into a narrative. Why you embodied his vision. The West is the last frontier, and it’s already conquered. The novel takes place in California, that land of sun that is the edge of America and full of opportunity and beauty. Hollywood. City of Angels. Valleys of wine. The ocean. All that.
—Yeah, he said it was destiny that we would find each other, at the edge of the continent. Well, apparently he was stalking me.
—He was stalking a dream. The Western narrative you identified with was cowboys taming the wild land, doing big, great things. They lasso cattle and ride trains and shoot Indians.
—Yeah, that’s not PC.
—Or realistic. But we cling to the narrative. But just like settlers in California, modernity teaches us there is no more pioneering to do, and yet we still want to pioneer. We’re restless.
—No reason to kidnap people and tie them to a cannon post.
—See, that’s good imagery, Eggers.
—I didn’t think of that. Yeah. We’re chained to these posts for holding cannons firing at the ocean. That’s what we are, isn’t it? Canons firing vainly at the ocean from the edge of the continent, straining to make a statement, do something powerful.
—But the base is derelict. The posts remain.
—I did not see that one coming.
—I hope I’m the first reader who has. That’s some subtle imagery.
—I guess you reached the edge of the continent.
—Like Thomas, I’m “sitting around an already-built world.” Two hundred years and it’s a joke. When you reach California, there’s nowhere to go but space.
—And when they won’t let you go in space?
—You kidnap people in California. And become a celebrity. The new frontier isn’t much different from the old. In America, it’s the outlaws who we fall in love with. Criminals. Radicals. Thomas was a character we actually endeared.
—I don’t want to think about it. I’m past him.
—Fair enough. You can go now. Gotta talk about Jesus now with an old congressman.