A quarter of the way through Tom McCarthy’s fine new book SATIN ISLAND and I encounter what I can only describe as a Hubertus Bigend figure: one of those cultural-commercial spooks who darkly alchemise outbreaks of the future into product and wealth. McCarthy’s Peyman isn’t as comically shadowy as Bigend, but, in his constantly moving post-geographic manifestations, just as elusive. The sinister appeal of these characters is in part that they’re the Jason Bournes of cultural workers, teleporting through airports, known by the trail of their murky haloes of incoming data, materialising in rooms and halls to disrupt the flesh of the now with hails of information and beaming out again in pursuit of the next opportunity and the spoor of the new.
As someone who wrote a 1300-page fantasia of journalism, I recognise cultural fantasias when I see them. It’s a seductive confection that should be resisted. But I booked flights to Europe anyway.
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