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A Fraction of the Whole

December 15, 2009

A Fraction of the Whole
Books that Changed Me: A Fraction of the Whole, Steve Toltz

HERE IS A FANTASTIC PIECE of literature. It’s been featured previously in this space. The novel manages to hit upon all of the recurring themes rattling around inside Your Montag’s head, and clinging tenuously to the pages of this blog.

Question Everything:

“People always complain about having no shoes until they see a man with no feet, then they complain about not having an electric wheelchair. Why? What makes them automatically transfer themselves from one dull system to another, and why is free will utilized only on details and not on the broad outlines–not ‘Should I work?’ but ‘Where should I work?’ and not ‘Should I start a family?’ but ‘When should I start a family?’ Why is it that we don’t suddenly swap countries so that everyone in France moves to Ethiopia and everyone in Ethiopia moves to Britain and everyone in Britain moves to the Caribbean and so on until we have finally shared the earth like we were supposed to and shed ourselves of our shameful, selfish, bloodthirsty, and fanatical loyalty to dirt? Why is free will wasted on a creature who has infinite choices but pretends there are only one or two?” [290-291]

What if you had the wherewithal, the freedom and the means, to choose a life outside of the spectacle? How might such a life change you?

The book also presents a misanthropy that you (read: I) don’t have to be ashamed to embrace:

As I ran, I thought how I hate any kind of mob–I hate mobs of sports fans, mobs of environmental demonstrators, I even hate mobs of supermodels, that’s how much I hate mobs. I tell you mankind is only bearable when you get him on his own. [506]

It jibes with my brand of misanthropy: I hate Everybody, yet most of them are pretty fun to joke around with. It’s when people decide to do great things together that things start to go wrong.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. fledermaus permalink
    December 19, 2009 12:49 AM

    “I hate Everybody, yet most of them are pretty fun to joke around with.”

    along with the corollary “it’s amazing how many assholes there are in the world, even when you don’t set the bar very high”

  2. December 20, 2009 9:02 PM

    my personal record for sailing over the asshole bar is impressive, but i reckon i’m still less craven than 95% of America.

    another corollary:
    two’s company, three’s a bloodthirsty mob.

  3. December 22, 2009 6:28 PM

    Thanks, I’ll look for this one. I ordered Debord, but he hasn’t arrived.

    • December 23, 2009 8:47 AM

      hey, good to hear from you, MarkC! hope you enjoy the books as much as i have.

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