RANT by Chuck Palahniuk

I just finished reading a book called Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. I wish I had found this book a year ago while I was researching my thesis. I’m going to throw out a few quotes from the book and then respond probably in a bit of a haphazard way as I think of things.

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Phoebe Truffeau, P.h.D: “Our greatest civilizations have always been destroyed by epidemic disease.” 

Jayne Merris: “On the traffic cameras, the Droolers used to limp around, dragging one leg, slack-jawed, snarling. People who used to be wives, fathers, and even little kids, now–completely gone berserk, lurking in public toilets and department-store fitting rooms with one goal: to sink their spitty teeth into somebody.”

Neddy Nelson: “You have any idea how bright the sun looks if you’ve been raised at night? Have you spent a hundred-something-thousand heartbeats wondering if you’re not already dying of rabies? Maybe you haven’t boosted in weeks, because you’re afraid you won’t be able to? You ever see friends you recognize get machine-gunned by police on real-time traffic cams? You ever found yourself trapped in a world where you’re everybody’s worst nightmare?

Rant Casey: “What if reality is nothing but some disease?”

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In this book there is so much to tackle. Rant is the nickname of Buster Casey. When I hear the word Rant generally I think of someone going on a passionate tirade about a topic. I checked the dictionary….my thought was dead-on. I think of the phrase “to rant and rave” and I get the impression of a little bit of anger mixed in.

Rant reminds me of the word rage.

There was no shortage of that word in this book.

It seems Palahniuk knows the etymology of the word as well—there is an epidemic in this book. An epidemic of rabies –rabies and rage sharing etymology. The rabies outbreak was in humans. Cases in humans are rare in any case, but to spur a wide spread epidemic is unheard of. The way Palahniuk describes its effects…well it is a rather inventive. Rabies is a disease that effects the brain. So the infected individuals are Droolers…and from the description they are incredibly like zombies. Furthermore, since the population is split into Nighttimers (people who live by night) and Daytimers (people who live by day) and only the Nighttimer (2nd class) population is affected by the rabies outbreak initially there is a system of quarantine in place. Not just a physical quarantine that is set up after the outbreak of the disease, but a quarantine of time –the quarantine of day and night. Vampires are also quarantined by time…they only come out at night. Werewolves are quarantined by time…they only come out at the full moon. Since the Droolers represent a phase of the disease that is no longer curable….authorities begin to shoot them on sight. Any Nighttimer caught outside during daylight hours will be shot and represented as exhibiting Drooler like characteristics.

There is also the ever complicated theory of time travel in this text. Rant travels back in time to save his mother and to essentially keep himself from being born. But all of reality being a disease. Casey says “The future you have today is not the future you will have tomorrow.” –There is the Grandfather Theory–if you go back in time and accidentally alter something in the past, you alter something in the future. But we accept whatever reality we are presented with. So what if all of the reality we have now is not the reality we had yesterday??

I’m struggling to piece that together still.

All entertainment in this world–movies, books, television, radio—has been replaced by “boosting peaks”–everyone has a port in the back of their neck. They plug in “peaks” or neural transcripts—other peoples experiences that they have recorded. It includes all the senses. You can see what they saw, smell what they smelled, taste, feel, and hear—someone else’s experience. That is the entertainment. Anyone whose port is functioning is susceptible to government control. In this reality–reality is controlled and sifted through—so therefore not reality. 

Once infected with rabies your port no longer functions. Rabies, a disease, enables you to see reality without any interference.

So in that case the diseased are enlightened. 

 

There is a lot to sift through here…I will have more to say later.

Get started with that.

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2 Comments

  1. So I know you mentioned that Pam suggested you go light on the film stuff, but here’s a reference I think fits: there’s a movie called ‘Dark City,’ I saw years ago. Maybe you did too. I don’t remember it well, but I remember this idea it presented: what if our memories are implanted in us, and though we think we’ve lived however long we’ve been here in the way we remember it, what if those memories were given to us yesterday? Like you ask: what if reality is not the reality we had yesterday? How would we know? In movies, the assumption is usually that the system is flawed in some way, that there are little hints that we, or at least the protagonists of the story, can catch on to, and we can discover the truth. What if the system is flawless? What if we’re not the protagonists in the story? Would any of this matter? If reality isn’t *really* what it is, or what we think it is, what then, especially if we can’t access it? It’s like Descartes and the demon, and my conclusion would be the same as his: so what? Well, maybe my life is an illusion, maybe the memories I have today are just a few hours old, however deep they stretch back in my perception. But I have to live my life assuming that my perception is reality, especially insofar as I can’t alter it in any substantive way.

    I guess that’s the big X-factor, though: can I alter it? If in fact this is illusory, is there a deeper truth I can gain access to? And then, well, who knows really?

  2. Yep, Rob, there is a deeper truth… Emerson told us:

    “Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; there is no end in nature,but every end is a beginning;
    … and under every deep a lower deep opens.”

    http://www.rwe.org/works/Essays-1st_Series_10_Circles.htm

    The 13th century Zen philosopher, Dogen, said, “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things”, meaning that the more we are able to deeply connect, the more profound our experience of life. Shared stories ground thoughts/memories in very personal ways and provide guidance to us.

    We’re in a real ranting/rabid/raging mess, which has become the challenge of our human epoch. Our fore-parents had different challenges to face. Ours requires human consciousness to make a rapid shift unlike any that has come before. Can we pull it off in time? I don’t know, but it seems to me that participating in the adventure to do so is the most exciting way to spend one’s “hour upon the stage”. All the pieces are in place, the wisdom is at hand, to turn the wheel of human destiny away from consumption and toward appreciation for all life. It just requires enough of us to recognize that living in intimacy is mutually beneficial for everything—and in the process we’ll discover that spending one’s life this way is about as much fun as one can have.


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