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Now you know and knowing is just a touch over half the battle.

How I Became Stupid: Intelligently Ironic

Posted by goldwriting on April 24, 2008

There was another hole in this shirt, I swear it…

With a title like this gracing the front cover, you might get the impression that this is a tale of wrong choices, longing for the good ole’ days and trying to figure out how it all got away.

You’d be mostly wrong…mostly.

This is a tale about Antoine, who feels forever burdened by his astounding intelligence and natural curiosity about the world he inhabits. The weight of his knowledge is stifling and he longs to become one of the drolling, ignorant masses he sees around him every day. His goal by whatever means necessary is to dumb himself down into apparent nothingness in a crowd. Only then, he thinks, or deduces rather, can he find true happiness. He tries various methods and over-complicated ways to end up in places most people find themselves without thinking at all. This sarcastically comic journey follows these brave attempts to limit the reaches of his mind and the effects it has on those who know him, before and after his inclusion into the world of the stupid. Antoine is a wanderer, a rover, a vagabond of the mind, yearning for a place where his mind doesn’t run free because it sees nothing and nowhere to run to.

Martin Page, a French author, created Antoine almost as a reaction and retribution of the world of today. We cling to evolution and parade around preening in front of all other creatures, but not with our feathers or our fur, since we lost those long ago, but we preen with our minds and our reason. As a race we lord our cognitive thought over all other organisms, but Antoine shows us it comes with a hefty price tag. Martin’s novel gives us a glimpse into the mirror, a vision of someone we all hide deep in the closet who judges other people, overthinks each and every detail of the life before his eyes and who has a problem taking anything at face value. The eternal question posed by the book is whether there is a way to tone down that voice in our mind? Reel in the ego and superego and just become one with the mass consciousness, oh, and don’t forget to enjoy it as well.

This was a quick and enjoyable read, laced with wry wit, sarcasm and unique characters, people who would have to be incredibly singular just to stand hanging around Antoine in the first place. I felt the lesson I took away was you can never run away from who you really are and to be truly happy you need to start with acceptance of that fact. A tall tale indeed, but one that can be accomplished with a little time, energy and possibly a nice, creamy bar of dark chocolate.

(p.s. Thanks to Nikki for sending me the book! 🙂 )

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