Sunday, December 09, 2007

Write about what you're close to... Swoofs, etc.

The cross-hairs mark my window on the mezzanine floor. Six hundred and eighty pages into my second novel manuscript I find myself concentrating more and more on something I'm close to.

In a post about a week ago I expressed my admiration of the tower block shown in Jürgen Stumpe's photo at the left. And I felt silly not being able too identify the building. It is, I now learn, the headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and it's just down the road, close to me.

I am not writing about the ADIA, as it's known. I am writing about a world in which Sovereign Wealth Funds or swoofs (as I call them, since in my mind SWF is Südwest Rundfunk, a German broadcaster... but never mind!) play a large role. For some, including serious economists, swoofs are harbingers of the end of the world as we know it.

Why? Because, taking ADIA as an example, there is an entity controlling US$ 1.2 trillion. That's a lot of money and a lot of power. And when there is huge power there is excitement of all kinds. Which means that swoofs are definitely part of the environment in which my latest tale plays out. Nice to have one so close to me.

Close to me, part of my personality, is the fact that I am the son of a clergyman, Scottish Presbyterian. And though I am personally not religious, I remain fascinated by the religion-and-society interface. (Which also makes the Sandlands an interesting place to while away a few years.)

I have been realizing of late that I have been labouring under a delusion; namely that America's fundamentalist evangelical churches are the exclusive domain of the ultra-conservative far-right. But, no sir! I have recently become aware that many of the mega-churches have lurched to the other end of the political spectrum and are adopting positions more radical and progressive than I had suspected, embracing a kind of Christian Socialism (again a term I hesitate to use, with the allusion implicit to a German political party which remains very conservative indeed... but never mind!).

So in the novel I started in March, alongside the swoofs there is the phenomenon of the Church of the Synarchic Trinity whose house of worship is virtual; a large, radical social networking metaverse comparable to Second Life without the sex. Yes, this is the kind of geeky gnosticism that kind of appeals to me; it makes writing great fun.

Of course I never realized that I had a swoof practically on my doorstep.

And I never imagined that Rupert Murdoch would buy (last week) the faith portal to add to his internet holdings which include the social networking site MySpace.

As a writer I must be careful what I imagine next, as fictional entities providing the ambiente for my storytelling. Will it emerge that there is an eighth Emirate, Ra'as Al Markaziyah? Is there, somewhere on the coat of the South of France a hedonistic, five-star naturist resort called Port Libertat? (No, not a mis-spelling, just 'freedom' in the Occitan language... but never mind!)

No comments: