An Excerpt from Page 140 (Chapter 12, Section 12.10), Satin Island, by Tom McCarthy

“Levi-Strauss claims that, for the isolated tribe with whom an anthropologist makes first contact – the tribe who, after being studied will be decimated by diseases to which they’ve no resistance, then (if they’ve survived) converted to Christianity and, eventually, conscripted into semi-bonded labour by mining and logging companies – for them, civilization represents no less than a cataclysm. This cataclysm, he says, is the true face of our culture – the one that’s turned away, from us at least. The order and harmony of the West, the laboratory in which structures of untold complexity are being cooked up, demand the emission of masses of noxious by-products. What the anthropologist encounters when he ventures beyond civilization’s perimeter-fence in no more than its effluvia, its toxic fallout. The first thing we see as we travel round the world is our own filth, thrown into mankind’s face.”

Melanie

MELANIE 01

A man stares at the glowing red crystal lodged deep in the middle of his palm, looks in both directions, and then starts to run as he hears the soft whooshing sound of a hover car approaching: “That’s what we’re watching. If you want to watch something else then I don’t know what to tell you. The television doesn’t belong to you. I know you think it does, and that’s my fault. But Rick wanted me to watch Logan’s Run with him because he’s very proud of the fact that he got a speaking part in a show and I’m not going to tell him that we can’t watch it now because you don’t want to watch it. That’s not fair. I watch your shows with you all the time. I sit there and I don’t say a word. And to be honest with you, I think your shows are just as boring as you think this one is, even though I don’t think it’s boring at all, I think it’s exciting. Because I’ve never known anyone who’s been on television before. And I’m very proud of Rick. He’s working really hard to make it as an actor. It’s not easy, sweetie. You don’t understand. There are literally a million people in this city who would kill to be in the position Rick is in right now. He thinks they’re going to ask him to come back for some more episodes. So this is serious. And I’m serious. I’m serious about you not being so selfish. You’re not a baby anymore. It’s okay to be selfish when you’re a baby because that’s what baby’s do, they don’t know any better, everything is about them and it’s me, me, me all day and all night. So I’m serious about you learning that not everyone and everything is here to make you happy. And I’m really serious about Rick. About Rick and me. Because I think this is serious. I think Rick is going to be moving in. That’s what I wanted to tell you. Rick is going to move in with us. That’s why I wanted him to come over tonight. It wasn’t his idea. I lied. It was my idea. I wanted Rick to come over and I wanted all three of us to watch him on Logan’s Run and then after the show was over we were going to take you to 31 Flavors and tell you about Rick moving in. We wanted to tell you together, as a couple. We didn’t want it to be a surprise. We didn’t want you to come back from your Dad’s house next Monday and Rick is here and all his stuff is here and you have no idea what’s going on. But now we can’t do that. I’m not taking you to 31 Flavors now. Not after how you’ve been acting. I’m not going to reward you for bad behavior. So you just sit in here for the next ten minutes, until the show is over. When the show is over I’ll let you know and then I want you to come downstairs and apologize to Rick for ruining what was supposed to be his special night. Not that you would know this, but Rick hasn’t had a lot of special nights in his life, not like you. Rick was a foster child. His bed was in the same room as the washer and dryer.”