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Another Dose of Chuck – The more people die, the more things stay the same.

July 18, 2010

It has been so long I had a two-second memory lapse of my password! I bring you great excerpts, read in two countries: Israel and America. The only thing that connected these two countries was this book. I read it in my grandma’s house, in my other grandma’s apartment, on various airplanes, at home, in a car, and at the beach. So this book and I have gone to many places together. It’s twisted and disturbing, as all of Chuck’s books are, but what dominates is how riveting the storyline is and how the writing just goes forward forward forward, all the time.

Excerpt #64:
People who would never throw litter from their car will drive past you with their radio blaring. People who’d never blow cigar smoke at you in a crowded restaurant will bellow into their cell phone. They’ll shout at each other across the space of a dinner plate.
These people who would never spray herbicides or insecticides will fog the neighborhood with their stereo playing Scottish bagpipe music. Chinese opera. Country and western.
Outdoors, a bird singing is fine. Patsy Cline is not.
Outdoors, the din of traffic is bad enough. Adding Chopin’s Piano Concerto in E Minor is not making the situation any better.
You turn up your music to hide the noise. Other people turn up their music to hide yours. You turn up yours again. Everyone buys a bigger stereo system. This is the arms race of sound. You don’t win with a lot of treble.
This isn’t about quality. It’s about volume.
This isn’t about music. This is about winning.
You stomp the competition with the bass line. You rattle windows. You drop the melody line and shout the lyrics. You put in foul language and come down hard on each cussword.
You dominate. This is really about power. (16-17)

Excerpt #65:
These music-oholics. These calm-ophobics.
No one wants to admit we’re addicted to music. That’s just not possible. No one’s addicted to music and television and radio. We just need more of it, more channels, a larger screen, more volume. We can’t be without it, but no, nobody’s addicted.
We could turn it off anytime we wanted. (18)

The sound shivers through the walls, through the table, through the window frame, and into my finger.
These distraction-oholics. These focus-ophobics.
Old George Orwell got it backward.
Big brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.
He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix. He’s making sure your attention is always filled.
And this being fed, it’s worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what’s in your mind. With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world. (18-19)

Excerpt #66:
There are worse things you can do to the people you love than kill them. The regular way is just to watch the world do it. Just read the newspaper.
The music and laughter eat away at your thoughts. The noise blots them out. All the sound distracts. Your head aches from the glue.
Anymore, no one’s mind is their own. You can’t concentrate. You can’t think. There’s always some noise worming in. Singers shouting. Dead people laughing. Actors crying. All these little doses of emotion.
Someone’s always spraying the air with their mood. (19)

Excerpt #67:
In a world where the culling song was common knowledge, there would be sound blackouts. Like during wartime, wardens would patrol. But instead of hunting for light, they’d listen for noise and tell people to shut up. The way governments look for air and water pollution, these same governments would pinpoint anything above a whisper, then make an arrest. There would be helicopters, special muffled helicopters, of course, to search for noise the way they search for marijuana now. People would tiptoe around in rubber-soled shoes. Informers would listen at ever keyhole.
It would be a dangerous, frightened world, but at least you could sleep with your windows open. It would be a world where each word was worth a thousand pictures. (60)

Excerpt #68, (on a ferris wheel):
We rise higher, farther from the smells, away from the diesel engine noise. We rise up into the quiet and cold. Mona, reading the planner book, gets smaller. All the crowds of people, their money and elbows and cowboy boots, get smaller. The food booths and the portable toilets get smaller. The screams and rock music, smaller.
At the top, we jerk to a stop. Our seat sways less and less until we’re sitting still. This high up, the breeze teases, rats, back-combs Helen’s pink bubble of hair. The neon grease an d mud, from this far away, it all looks perfect. Perfect, safe, and happy.
The music’s just a dull thud, thud, thud.
This is how we must look to God. (199)

Excerpt #69:
Looking out the car window, Oyster says, “You ever wonder if Adam and Eve were just the puppies God dumped because they wouldn’t house-train?”
He rolls down the window and the smell blows inside, the stinking warm wind of dead fish, and shouting against the wind, he says, “Maybe humans are just the pet alligators that God flushed down the toilet.” (143)

Lullaby, Chuck Palahniuk

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