Margaret Atwood and Alanis Morissette will be at the Winspear this Friday, November 22nd. Chosen for the University of Alberta’s Festival of Ideas based on their palindromic initials, the two are significant cultural icons. But don’t get too excited, the event sold out faster than a six toed proton in the large hadron collider.
So, instead, you will be subjected to the snowy speculative feed of off-base prophecies. Margaret will read a passage from her most recent novel Maddaddam (another palindrome, this stuff isn’t coincidence) and Alanis will perform a medley of her entire body of work. It will be a frenetic odyssey that languishes in no key or time signature for more than a singular measure. The audience’s applause will not have subsided before, in unison, Alanis and Margaret will holler “shut your mouths, you swine!”.
The embarrassed audience will fall into rapt attention for a spirited dialogue on Canada’s cultural and political climate. No obtusion will be dispensed from either speaker as they cast the light of their third eye on Alberta’s economic and environmental realities that tarnish our fancy dress with pitch shame. Taken aback, minor victories sputter like inconsequential soap bubbles, popping in the hot magnified disappointment of their gazes. After being made uncomfortable and scared for 45 minutes to an hour, the audience has an opportunity at ask some questions.
The first question comes from a little boy or girl, they want to know why Alanis would ever break up with Uncle Joey. Lips touching the microphone, with a voice gravelled by decades of crooning, Morissette responds:
“Time’s soft earth soft is pliable, womb-like. But make no mistake, gossip with no end, idle nostalgia: these are the tools with which we are bound to dig a deep, deep grave. A grave where we will choke on our own reckless CO2. We will die without mercy.”
Atwood, typically a vociferous force on such matters, is silent. It is her own deep down secret that the patriarchal Commander of The Handmaid’s Tale is based on her own brief, twisted, near future, dystopian relationship with Dave Coulier.
Each minute that passes Margaret Atwood’s scarf grows an inch longer. It is tickling the floor when Q&A concludes and the night has come to a close. The crowd watches the scarf push 20-30cm of snow aside, allowing a clear path for the two as they head to their limousines. A gust of wind signals exeunt, and in the foyer of the Winspear a stunned audience is held hostage by gathering acrid snow.