Prospects of the City: Waking up on Mulholland Drive, Denmark

If only David Lynch could personally direct all our Monday mornings If only David Lynch could personally direct all our Monday mornings
March 5th, 2016 7:00 pm| by Per Smidl
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

In which the prospector wakes and very nearly despairs upon discovering he is stuck and unable to get out.

Consumed by despair
When I woke to a particularly dismal Copenhagen morning in February, it was with bits and pieces of dream still sticking to my still half-slumbering mind.

Without being able to explain how it had happened or why, I had the feeling that some outrage must have taken place during the long night I had been away. And, now as I was coming to, I felt that despair was seeping into through mind at every nook and cranny. And worst of all there was nothing I could do about it.


Totally alone, no way out
In the dream my ex-wife had run off and married another man. That was all right by me, if it had not been for the fact that the house they had left me to inhabit was abandoned except for some of my daughter’s clothes that lay scattered about on the floor.

Totally alone, I was astonished to realise that I could not remember where the exit was. Presumably I had no other option but to inspect the mess left by the celebratory party. Looking around what was indeed my own home and taking in the devastation, I had the somewhat nebulous sensation of being left behind in a place unfit for human beings. But what then was I doing there? Why had I not been evacuated like everyone else? What was the meaning of my situation?

An outsider at home
Except for the fact that nothing was what it used to be anymore, everything was exactly the same.

Even if the place was mine and I knew it inside out, I felt strange being there.
Instead of the bookshelves that had lined the walls when I was a child, there was now a computer-generated image of something that might or might not be books.

Even the room-temperature was no longer the same. The air I breathed was so unbearably hot and humid that I shivered as beads of sweat gathered on my forehead.

In prison
And I had not even fathomed the worst part: for as long as I lived I was doomed to remain in the claustrophobic place as a sort of voluntary prisoner.

In order to get out or go somewhere else I was obliged to mount one of the wheelless bicycles that were lined up in the corner, put on the mask hanging from a cord across the handlebars and provide my user’s identity. Thus prepared, I could then go mountain-climbing, desert-roaming or deep-sea-diving.

And imagine! I could rideuntil the bicycle needed to be charged again. The people who were no longer there did it all the time. They were laughing and screaming with glee soundlessly in my headset. They were happy.

“Christ almighty,” I thought to myself as I closed my eyes.
“I can’t wait till I go back to sleep again!”

Per Smidl


As the author of the 1995 essay ’Victim of Welfare. An Essay on State and Individual in Denmark’ and 2011 novel ’Wagon 537 Christiania’, Per Smidl is no stranger to controversy. After 12 years of self-imposed exile in Prague, he is back in his native Copenhagen, a city he will always have a unique perspective on.