Silly Grins

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

57th Page

Years had passed since last reading Kesey’s novel. And there it was again. Some guy from the big city in the West was on a trip in a big city in the East. He was asking questions, on a truth-quest... or something.


And memory of a passage came back. A passage that was hard to find. It had been a while. So, once again, from the beginning—no shortcuts. There was something important that needed to be remembered, something that fit in too well. Along the way, there were also a few pleasant surprises. From the beginning to the 57th page.

Urban lives…

39th “The frenzied pattern, the faces hypnotized by routine…”

41st “…you can never tell when just that certain someone might come in who’s free enough to foul things up right and left, really make a hell of a mess and constitute a threat to the whole smoothness of the outfit.”


48th “I’ve hear the theory of the Therapeutic Community enough times to repeat it forwards and backwards—how a guy has to learn how to get along in a group before he’ll be able to function in a normal society; how the group can help the guy by showing him where he’s out of place, how society decides what is sane and what isn’t, so you got to measure up.”

Those who try…

53rd “He had come to life for maybe a minute to try to tell us something, something none of us cared to listen to or tried to understand, and the efforts had drained him dry.”


57th “I’ve seen a thousand of ‘em, old and young, men and women. Seen ‘em all over the country and in the homes—people who try to make you weak so they can get you to tow the line, to follow their rules, to live like they want you to. And the best way to do this, to get you to knuckle under, is to weaken you by gettin’ you where it hurts to worst. You ever been kneed in the nuts in a brawl, buddy? Stops you cold, don’t it? There’s nothing worse. It makes you sick, it saps every bit of strength you got. If you’re up against a guy who wants to win by making you weaker instead of making himself stronger, then watch for his knee, he’s gonna go for your vitals.

The last bit, on the 57th… for me, it’s about two kinds of competition. One kind involves setting goals, improving yourself through practice, running the course and coming away stronger, becoming a better person having gone through the process. Another kind involves a zero-sum mentality where obliteration of ‘the other side', as well as the competition itself, becomes the goal.

What’s confusing is when entering a land that advertises itself as the first type when it might actually be the second. 



(All quotes come from the paperback 4th edition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next by the late Ken Kesey, published in 1962...before my time)


  1. "What’s confusing is when entering a land that advertises itself as the first type when it might actually be the second. "

    THIS is the confusion the prevents me from embracing Japan with both arms. I gotta use one and save the other to shove it away when it acts like a fucking child.

    1. Just mentioning the fact that there is confusion seems like taboo, judging by the harsher reactions from various directions.

      One of my ways of dealing with issues that come up here is to stop and wait in order to give myself enough time to process.

      However, stopping and waiting also runs the risk of morphing into stunned complacency. There are times, in my opinion, that swift action is necessary.