I have been trying to do more than just spend my evenings watching TV; TV is rubbish anyway, it is the idiot lantern. I’m switching off the TV in order to learn more. I don’t consider myself as smart; yes I’ve been through uni and I am quite surprised that I made it, but I put it down to blagging my way through essays, writing just enough to make it seem like I knew what I was talking about. So I decided to do something about it and try to learn new things, expand my horizons so to speak.
I came across this book, ‘How I Became Stupid’, and thought it would be interesting; I’m trying to be smarter and here’s the story of somebody wanting to become stupid. I was intrigued by what would lead somebody to want to be stupid.
I did really enjoy it. The main character, Antoine, justified why he wanted to dumb down and tried different things before taking pills to help him stop overthinking things. This leads to him getting a job as a stock broker and spending his money on things he doesn’t even use; he buys a car even though he cannot drive, he buys food he doesn’t like. A critique of consumer culture perhaps. There is a scene where Antoine finds out that his boss is having extra-marital affairs, which I thought might begin the process of Antoine returning to his normal self, unable to deal with the things that ‘stupid’ people do. But it didn’t. There was no sense of him struggling, no major conflicts within him; there were hints at something with his consumerism but no real thought process about his life as a dumb person.
His smart friends, who distanced themselves after learning of his plan to become stupid, have an intervention to remind Antoine of life as a smart person, and famous smart people who have succeeded. I thought that this would then lead to Antoine returning to normal and reconsidering life as a dumb person, the way he considered life as a smart person in the beginning. Again it didn’t. After the intervention, the final chapter sees Antoine and some girl pretending to be acting, standing in front of a car as it drove towards them, jumping out of the way at the last minute, and then pretending to be ghosts. This ending seemed to ask more questions, rather than answer them. It didn’t seem to make any sense. With the last sentence saying that they went off to haunt the city, I thought that they might be dead, but that can’t be the case, the guy in the car that drove towards them had saw them and was beeping his horn at them, and they weren’t killed by that car because they jumped out of the way. There seems to be no link between the intervention and this last chapter.
When I bought this book I knew that I would like it, so it’s kind of disappointing that the ending doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story. I hope that I have just missed something, and when I realise it, it will all make sense. I hope it’s not a smart people thing that I’m just not getting.
Something that really stuck out when I read it was this line: “better to be provided with prefabricated emotions, and preformulated thoughts.” When I said at the beginning of this post that I was trying to become smarter, a part of what I am trying to do is form my own opinions about things, be unique by resisting these thoughts that everybody seems to have and see things in a new way. The other part of my process to be smarter is just to learn about things, take an interest in stuff I do not know. Antoine wanted to become stupid, I want to be smart.