Whoa. Hmmmm. Gah. This week was hard.
These 100-odd pages of IJ have never really shook me before. Not truly. Of course, the stories that come out of the AA meetings are incredibly dark, as is the tale of Eric Clipperton, but I have always enjoyed Mario’s take on The ONANtiad.
But now…now Johnny Gentle just isn’t funny anymore. To wit:
The Totalitarian’s Guide to Iron-Fisted Spin.
GENTLE’S “PATHOLOGICAL INABILITY TO DEAL PROACTIVELY WITH ANY SORT OF REAL OR IMAGINED REJECTION”
GENTLE HAS COMPLETELY LOST HIS MIND… ‘WILLING TO ELIMINATE OWN MAP OUT OF SHEER PIQUE’
So let’s talk about doubt. Doubt can double as Denial. Doubt can be paralyzing, sending missed opportunities whizzing past you. Doubt will make you underestimate the permanence of objects.
Geoffrey Day isn’t the only one who doubts that the seemingly benign and trite tenets of AA can actually work. We spend 36 pages sitting on a hard plastic chair, listening to speakers as they go on their Commitments, sharing their horror stories with each other. Throughout, Gately shares his experiences with Tiny Ewell, Ken Erdedy and Joelle, encouraging them to release the doubt they have about the efficacy of AA, to just Come In
Lyle lives as much on doubt as he does on the sweat of young boys. LaMont Chu recognizes an intense double bind as he chases The Show. Lyle attempts to release Chu from this fixation with fame by placing a seed of doubt in Chu’s mind, telling him “You burn with hunger for a food that does not exist” (p. 389).
Both Marathe and Steeply circle each other, doubting their respective motivations. Steeply tries to understand why exactly the AFR, with seemingly with no political motivation, are so set on causing extreme chaos and death to U.S. citizens. Marathe counters with his parable of the can of soup, doubting Americans have the capacity for delayed gratification, which Steeply refutes, stating it is as easy as “simply being a mature and adult American instead of a childish and immature American”(p. 428). SIGH.
We never truly learn the motivations for Eric Clipperton’s decision to “win” at any cost, but surely self-doubt as to his own skills, or a crippling need for gratification must be at the core. That his final, actual suicide occurs because he has been given the exact thing he seemed to want seems to infer that self-doubt and an eventual self-awareness pushed him to the other side.
- I would love to see someone tackle Mario’s film in all its finger-puppet glory
- The sad career of the drug-addled headline writer was brilliant
- Note 304 is sub-referenced in both Note 45 and Note 173. Did you read it the first time? The second time? Are you waiting until 304?
- There were children at that AA meeting listening to those stories.