Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Now Reading: How I Became Stupid

Right now I'm halfway through a funny little novel originally published in French and called How I Became Stupid by Martin Page. This is a pretty accurate product description from Amazon:

Ignorance is bliss, or so hopes Antoine, the lead character in Martin Page’s stinging satire, How I Became Stupid—a modern day Candide with a Darwin Award–like sensibility. A twenty-five-year-old Aramaic scholar, Antoine has had it with being brilliant and deeply self-aware in today’s culture. So tortured is he by the depth of his perception and understanding of himself and the world around him that he vows to denounce his intelligence by any means necessary—in order to become "stupid" enough to be a happy, functioning member of society. What follows is a dark and hilarious odyssey as Antoine tries everything from alcoholism to stock-trading in order to lighten the burden of his brain on his soul.

By now you probably can tell why this book caught my attention. But to seal the deal, here's the first paragraph:
Antoine had always felt he was living in dog years. When he was seven he felt about as playful as a man of forty-nine; by eleven he was as disillusioned as an old man of seventy-seven. Now, age twenty-five, Antoine was hoping to start taking it easy, and he resolved to shroud his brain in stupidity. He had already realized that intelligence was just the word people used for stupid remarks that were well presented and prettily pronounced, and that intelligence itself was so corrupt, there was often more to be gained from being dumb than from being a sworn intellectual. Intelligence makes you unhappy, lonely, and poor, whereas disguising it offers the possibility of immortality in newsprint and the admiration of those who believe what they read.

I know it's a satire, but I can identify with Antoine's malady: an overactive brain. Even when he's trying to make himself stupid, he researches everything -- I do that too... and not for satirical purposes either!

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