You’re So Vain
Jim McPherson and other characters within the pages of Gold Coast are vain and narcissistic. When I read through the part where Jim was having sex with Virginia, I felt entirely uncomfortable. How he described her body and her beauty was disturbing. His snippets of poetry disconnected Virginia from her aesthetic and her as a person (Robinson, 35). The novel pushes the boundaries further with the descriptions of sex in Technicolor detail. Jim and Virginia watch themselves on screens, and when the video cuts out, Virginia gets pissed. Jim then has to prop up a body mirror—an archaic camera system—just so he and Virginia can resume having sex. It’s unfathomable the amount of narcissism there is in this passage. Both Virginia and Jim, rather than look at each other, watch themselves in the mirror.
The vanity, though, doesn’t surprise me too much. It is California, after all. The stereotypes of Californians in today’s society are full of artificial values, plastic body parts, Barbie doll figures, and surface aestheticism. There is a parallel between Gold Coast’s California and our California, which I find intriguing. Also, our society today is chock full of people taking, sharing, and liking photos on social media. Selfies today can be seen as the video monitors in the book. We’re, as a people, constantly looking at ourselves, gauging our attractiveness, and fixing/altering our appearance. In the honor of selfies and self-absorption, the video is the old Chainsmokers song, “#selfie.” Take a gander and enjoy. (Beware: the song is annoying, though pretty relevant.)
Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Gold Coast. New York, Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 1988.