‘My name is Challenge’ (Dr B. to Matt Pearce in temporoparietal)

temporoparietal: Modern Young Man in Search of Being

temporoparietal: Modern Young Man in Search of Being

I have worked for many years with young people, particularly those who failed by the educational system for one reason or another. Many feel that they do not have a stake in society; and they are right. Society is not set up for outliers, which young people with any degree of imagination, creativity and intelligence generally are. I would even say that these young people are disadvantaged by today’s educational system, which prizes conformity to existing models of knowledge and practice over everything – unlike my own educational experiences in the 60s and 70s, where students were actively encouraged to challenge orthodoxy and develop independence of thought. As a keen eighteen-year-old musician put it to me: “At least you had Hendrix. We have nothing.” My novel sets out to explore this nothing, and what fills the vacuum created by cultural dispossession.

The role of youth is to challenge any status quo; that is the only way progress gets made. The younger people are, the more inclined they will be to seek answers to life’s deeper, philosophical questions; such as ‘Why am I here?’ ‘What happens when I die?’ ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ ‘What is the purpose of life itself?’ The questions children ask, but adults no longer do, because they don’t have the time and are anyway locked into the routines of the existing order of things, one of which is not to think too closely about these matters. As T.S. Eliot writes in ‘The Four Quartets’: ‘Humankind cannot bear very much reality’’.

There is, however, a limit to how much of reality can be swept under the carpet. And as Nietzsche once said, you need the seriousness of a child to approach the truth. Generation Y representative, Matt Pearce, millennial post-teenager, is such a child, who wants and expects answers to these unsettling questions, and is aware that they can only be found by rolling up the carpet to see what lies underneath. The carpet then becomes Matt’s ticket to a journey, as carpets often do.

temporoparietal is a road-novel, like Pilgrim’s Progress, and charts the picaresque adventures and moral/philosophical reflections of a young person on a journey towards understanding the truth about life, reality and himself. Unlike Bunyan’s Christian, Matt Pearce is a modern youth with modern problems resulting from modern relationships. In this he is like Sal Paradise in Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, looking for a moment of perfect transcendence, in which all contingency vanishes and the wounds of the past are healed. Immersed over-his-head, whether he likes it or not, in the thick, murky and viscous contingency of the real, including its random challenges, confrontations and unpalatability, Matt is existentially engagé in a search for modern being.

The novel ends with a reminder of the universal mind – something we are in danger of closing within ourselves, by our neglect and abuses of the gift of consciousness. temporoparietal is a comic novel, and I hope it will be enjoyed as such. However, like stand-up, the humour is inspired by a rage inside at the present state of things.