02 July 2017

"What I demand of myself, I cannot demand of everyone."

I know that when a supersexy older girl with hips and breasts and nice hair wants to take off your glasses and to paint you a smoky eye she's merely trying to enroll you in a beauty contest she's already won. It's a kind of slummy, condescending gesture, like when rich people ask poor people where they summer. To me, this smacks of a blatant, insensitive "let them eat cake" type of chauvinism.” 

I have recently read 2 brilliant novels, both of which I have rated with 4 out of 5 stars in Goodreads (by recently, I meant that I finished these 1st week of May). They hit the kind of humor that I strongly albeit secretly subscribe to: insensitive and unapologetic. Just kidding, the books were just really funny. And they’re both my first from each authors.

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Jacket with wool lining: Abercrombie & Fitch | Inner top: Zara | Pants and bonnet: Uniqlo | Boots: from department store in US | Sunnies: Oakley | Bag: Balenciaga City | Scarf: H&M

"It's my petty fear of personal rejection that allows so many true evils to exist. My cowardice enables atrocities."

I have read a few of Palahniuk’s quotes while browsing Pinterest. I’ve pinned some of them without having read the book whence they came from just because they were downright offensively funny, just the uncustomary straight-in-your-face rebuttal that I find hilarious (trust me, I’ve recently learned that not everyone appreciates this kind of humor. Or was it just my delivery that made the entire supposedly humorous situation overly offensive? Hmmm). Anyway. For my first Palahniuk novel, I bought “Damned”, the book where the cover looks like an inebriated evilmonger. Certainly the book wasn’t a conflict-resolved case (I read that 2 more are coming after?) and that it was more of a thrill-along-the-way kind of read but just the same, I loved it!

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"Few marriages sustain the high level of passion that exists between criminals and those who seek to bring them to justice. It’s no wonder the Zodiac Killer flirted so relentlessly with the police. Or that Jack the Ripper courted and baited detectives with his - or her - coy letters. We all wish to be pursued. We all long to be desired."

The premise was very simple: a chubby well-bred, well-groomed, well off 13-year old girl died and went to Hell. While there, she became overlord, besting out the likes of Hitler as she stayed longer. Instead of resenting the toxic place that was Hell, she started embracing it. Here comes the bummer: whilst enjoying her growing power, she was told that there has been a mix-up, that she wasn’t supposed to be in Hell in the first place. Bla, bla, bla. It’s a formulaic plot and the plot itself didn’t astound me. What made me decide to file it under the rest of my beloved 4-star books is that, I found it refreshing and amusing to read a novel that showcased a different type of humor. Yes yes, I quite agree that senseless, idiotic, and stupid jokes are funny. I even share them on an every hour basis with my colleague at work. I also agree that some smart jokes are funny too (of course I’m not discounting the fact that perhaps I only consider “some” and not “all” to be funny because I mostly do not understand smart jokes). And have you read my favorite book, Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray? That’s a treasure trove of funny insults. 

Aside from its humor, I liked how the book made its stand on religion:
“All the demons of Hell formerly reigned as gods in previous cultures. No it's not fair, but one man's god is another man's devil. As each subsequent civilization became a dominant power, among its first acts was to depose and demonize whoever the previous culture had worshipped."
It makes sense, doesn't it? I have long been trying to find logic and sense in religion until I've decided that I can classify it among those things under "To Each His Own". Believe in what works for you just as have respect for what works for others.

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"It is an old refrain — everybody agrees that the rats must be exterminated, but when it comes down to it, sympathy for the individual rat is huge. Only sympathy, mind you; there is no desire to keep the rat. The two must not be confused."

The 2nd book that I couldn't help myself from gushing about and sharing with everyone I know who reads, is Timur Vermes' Look Who's Back. Every now and then, I never failed in mentioning that among the stories that greatly interest me is those which happened during the Regime of the Nazis. But, it's not because I share the same ideology. My beliefs are far from it, in fact. It's just because the atrocities committed then, all in the name of upholding a racial belief, has always evoked the most melancholic thoughts from me. There's no logic that can be found in the most heinous crime ever committed against humanity. Hitler, by means of command-responsibility, is single-handedly the worst creature that was ever blessed with a brain. These are my quick two-cents about the historical Hitler.

"An idiot who does idiotic things is not funny."

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"Well, I was certainly planning to demonstrate my importance, but it was doubtful whether they would be able to handle it."

Now, on to my thoughts on the literary Hitler. I came across the book one afternoon when I was supposed to meet up with my college best friend. I arrived 30mins earlier than agreed upon so I went straight to Fully Booked. I saw the book, bought it, and showed up to the meeting place 23 minutes late. Well, what can I do, the book was surprisingly humorous. Tasteless, sure (if only because any attempt to downplay Hitler's crimes are considered as such). But it's certainly fun. Very briefly, the book is about Hitler who has woken up from his suicide in 1945 only to be met with the changes in 2011. With his rancour and wit in check, he rose to fame as a social media sensation. This book, just like Damned, is not a book with a destination in mind. It's a book that's meant to thrill its readers along the way.

The Hitler in this novel is witty, insightful, definitely not "the half-breed of indeterminate lineage", and quite possibly "the choice of Fate herself". If anything, I'd say that this novel could be the humorous novel counterpart of Machiavelli's The Prince. Or fine, it could be the lighter brother of historical Hitler's Mein Kampf. In short, I was highly entertained with the Hitler in this novel. I can even go and say, I share plenty of similar beliefs with this literary Hitler. What Vermes succeeded in doing is that, more than making the reader think about what-ifs, his novel has somehow blurred the line that divided the evil historical Hitler from the endearing literary Hitler.

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"I am the ambassador for uncompromising opinions."

The book was well-researched too. Its nuggets of historical accuracies added to the few facts that I know of about the Holocaust. I never bothered knowing about Goebbels, Himmler, Goring, Bormann, and all those other SS officials. It doesn't matter if the Holocaust began because of Hitler's desire to purify the German race and was only blown out of proportions because of the likes of Himmler. It doesn't matter if in the future, evidences could prove that Hitler's role in it was only in planting the seed of idea and that his officials were the ones who interpreted and acted on this idea thus commanding the genocide. None of these would matter because as literary Hitler said, "the Fuhrer's unique talent is not the accumulation of dry facts - his unique talent is rapid decision-making, and assuming responsibility for those decisions". I guess it's because rarely do people assume accountability for their rash decisions that when I see someone do it, I end up admiring him. 

"I liked that. No prevaricating, no excuses, just an unswerving acknowledgement of one's errors, and a promise to make amends for these autonomously."

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"And to all you romantics and gullible souls, who imagine that these devious parasites possess an extraordinary astuteness to match their allegedly superior intelligence - well, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you."

All photos were taken last December 2016 when the family went to Washington DC. All quotes were lifted from the 2 books that were discussed. 

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