In the Future this Will Not be Necessary – Paul Samael and the cathartic voice. (Book review)


In The Future This Will Not Be Necessary by Paul Samael Published June 2012, Smashwords, ISBN: 9781476248400

Stream of consciousness, in literary theory, often represents the direct thoughts of the protagonist together with all that monkey-jumping-from-tree-to-tree thinking that is both the bane of every Westerners life together with being the primary impulse behind creativity and imagination. In linguistics and behavioural economics, stream of consciousness, or internal monologue comes informs the way the body functions with its environment, that is we build a perception that affects the way we interact with the world. Literature deals with stream of consciousness as if it were a present mingling with a past, while behavioural sciences deal with it as a tool that invents a future, via the bodies careful wiring of response to stimuli. It is these two notions, cleverly combined that pulse at the heart of Paul Samael’s book, In the Future This Will Not be Necessary. 

No doubt some of them were victims of circumstance, but it seemed to me that at least some must have taken a conscious decision to cut all ties with people that they knew. I wondered what motivated them to do that. At the time, I was inclined to agree with Kay that Pete’s disappearance (assuming it was deliberate) was an incomprehensibly selfish act. Looking back on it now though, I can see the attraction of being able to start all over again, free from the constraints of the past, the future suddenly appearing to be full of opportunity and potential. Maybe that was what appealed to him, at least at the beginning.

Paul Samael. In the future this will not be necessary (Kindle Locations 1085-1089). Paul Samael.

The title involves both these approaches, implying an action taken (in the case of his protagonist Miles, it is the action of writing for catharsis) in the present, concerning itself with the past, can absolve or transform a future – a common reasoning behind cognitive therapy (and other forms of therapy) that a kind of confrontation with the past, via action will free a human caught up in their thought processes to make choices in the future they can’t have thought of, or were not conscious of, in the past. Samael takes this common idea and threads it within the novel, but taking the additional step of involving the reader, not as a kind of therapist or priest (listener) but an involved participant in the transformation he hopes to create – about which Miles is left uncertain, but the reader can see will make a difference. Samael achieves this with two literary techniques, the stream of consciousness narrative (but with punctuation to go a little easier on the reader) combined with momentous leaps back and forward through time, so that the reader is aware of the future before Miles, even as Miles is trying to transform his past. It’s an entirely successful technique, far less convoluted than I make is sound, that leads the reader through some moments of prediction, at the same times resisting the burden of an obvious foresight.

For a long time, I held to the view that towards the end of his life, Pete had simply gone mad. If I am honest about it though, I don’t really believe that people “simply” go mad. What goes on in people’s heads is not usually simple. But I resisted taking a more nuanced approach to the subject because I regarded Pete’s madness as a self-inflicted wound. I felt that putting a more sophisticated medical label on his condition would absolve him of all responsibility for what happened. 

Paul Samael. In the future this will not be necessary (Kindle Locations 2238-2242). Paul Samael.

In The Future This Will Not Be Necessary is a story of a man trying to make sense of several key events in his life that, despite all his attempts to understand and analyse them, have defied his control and swept him up in an ocean that he never fully understands. These key events involve his first great love, the birth of a child, and a love triangle that evolves into Mile’s immersion in an internet cult that he attempts to keep at bay by use of his scepticism. On the surface it tells of our irrational desire for control over events and circumstances born of a fear of irrationality that will see us, ultimately as the fool or victim of circumstances. Is it an emotional, political, chemical, environmental or evolutionary instinct to not be played as a fool? As the novel develops we see it is our beliefs that govern the answers to these questions, and belief as concept carries its own problems.

That’s what it took to make me realise that, in spite of everything, I don’t actually hate Pete or what he stands for. It would be more accurate to say that we have a love-hate relationship. Part of me is attracted by his unfailing optimism about the future, his wild imaginings and his enthusiasm for big ideas. But another part of me likes nothing better than to impale his delicate fantasies on the porcupine quills of my own carefully cultivated scepticism. 

Paul Samael. In the future this will not be necessary (Kindle Locations 2718-2722). Paul Samael.

Much of this enquiry is housed in a close connection with the fictitious cult created for the novel by Samael, but loosely based on several theories about the time, in the not too distant future, when computers will have replaced human intelligence as the superior thought processors on the planet. Despite the rather convoluted nature of these theories, and the scepticism of the protagonist, Samael lays them out cleanly with a Orwellian talent for relaying chunks of information in small doses as read or spoken material, couched in key plot moments that make the information readable and interesting. This is done so well, that one can read In The Future This Will not be Necessary for the sci-fi aspects alone, although it is a literary novel about the catharsis our own thought processes produce. It’s another way Samael cleverly combines the past present and future without resorting to certain clichés typical of art works that deal with memory and stream of consciousness, and yet using them in unusual ways so they act more as signposts. An example of this is the cliché of the diary as technique for a narrator relating his past. Samael bypasses this cliché entirely, only to eventually return to it with such conviction that the sign acts on our understanding separate from the ennui literary clichés inspire. This gives the novel a feel of being fresh and interesting, despite its careful guidance down familiar paths.

In The Future This Will not Be Necessary is a short work, but exultingly it is readable and more invigorating as the reader progresses, flouting the usual stigma attached to stream of consciousness’ unreadability. Best of all, it is free and another example of a high quality work independently published by a literary writer.

You can pick up a copy, in any format you like, here. 

Paul also maintains a fine blog that includes many reviews of other good indie writers, here.

In the future COVERphoto