by Douglas Haddow | “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” – so begins William Gibson’s Neuromancer – a novel that defined the cyberpunk genre and went on to become the most influential piece of literature to ever come out of Vancouver.
In addition to dragging science fiction headfirst into the 21st century, Gibson was able to perfectly capture the post-industrial zeitgeist (and the tensions therein) far more effectively than any “serious” literature at the time. But in a world where cloak-and-dagger conflicts between an omniscient surveillance state and hacker anti-heroes with dumb haircuts have become fodder for cartoon tabloids, we’ve come to take cyberpunk’s techno-dystopic forecasts for granted.
“Cyberspace”, the Gibson-coined iCloud of darkness that once threatened to turn us all into plasmatic feedbags, is now a mother-friendly playpen of tickled kittens and soft rock astronauts. Telus is right – the future is friendly. Only it’s the type of friendly that will leave you lying awake at night, ashamed of yourself because your latest Instagram post only got three likes and you don’t know who you are anymore.
And so if we ignore all the grim futurism and fractious gadgetry, the true theme of Gibson’s work emerges: cyberpunk was never really about the unintended consequences of technological determinism. Rather, it sought to allegorize an experience that is universal to all Vancouverites: the sense of impending doom that creeps across the Lower Mainland like a vampire squid whenever November rolls around, lifting the fog of our seasonal amnesia and reminding us of the unavoidable truth: it’s going to rain constantly for the next four months.
But not to worry! We’ve got you covered these five vaguely Gibsonesque rain hacks that will help you avoid a post-summer bummer:
On a chemical level, one of the causes of the winter blues is, according to WebMD, a decrease in serotonin production. Fortunately, cannabis, a genus of flowering plant indigenous to Vancouver’s suburbs, can boost serotonin if used responsibly. In order to properly capitalize on the plant’s therapeutic properties, it is recommended that those suffering from “the fuckin’ rain” crawl inside a fabricated womb and forget that the world exists. Call in sick to work for one or two weeks, build a pillow fort in your living room, and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation in its entirety and/or until cured.
The best way to deal with the existential despair commonly triggered by a lack of sunlight is to avoid confronting said despair directly. If you’re single, this can be achieved by immediately latching on to the first person who agrees to sleep with you. While physical intimacy is key, it’s also important to temporarily become as emotionally co-dependent as you can. You don’t have to necessarily like the person, either. All that matters is that you both have warm bodies and will regularly calm each other’s egos with some form of positive reinforcement. Once the rain clears, simply delete your number from their mobile phone and carry on as you were before.
If on the other hand, you are already in a relationship, and it isn’t properly insulating you from the harsh realities of a Vancouver winter, why not augment one’s level of intimacy by connecting with a group of like-minded individuals? You don’t have to go all Scientology right off the bat. In fact, it’s recommended that you ease into structured groupthink by signing up for a spin class first.
Vancouverites, especially of the male variety, are very fond of curating an outwardly rugged aesthetic. Robust beards, plaid shirts, woolen toques, waxed coats and so forth – all harkening back to a time when the archetypical British Columbian did not avoid the elements but embraced them with an open heart and a sharpened axe. Instead of slinking around under an umbrella like a coward, walk proudly into Mother Nature’s bosom, drink the rain from your moustache and let it soak deep into your bones. Yes, you will definitely get sick and likely develop a productive cough due to a weakened immune system, but at least you can hack some authenticity into your embroidered handkerchief.
And finally, the most common and effective method of seasonal evasion: the all-inclusive trip to Hawaii. Kick back on the beach, get a tan and sip some Piña Coladas. Ride some gnarly waves. Swim with the dolphins. All that good stuff. Maybe even get around to reading that copy of No Logo that’s been collecting dust on your bookshelf since first year of uni. Just avoid staring into the mirror for too long when you towel off, because the only thing worse than the rain is realizing that it’s the very least of your problems.
Douglas Haddow is a Main Street-based writer and the Associate Editor at Scout. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Adbusters, Vice, Colors, Slate, Hobo, and various online ice hockey forums. He has a BA in film studies from UBC, is a reluctant Calgary Flames supporter and likes to drink and argue.