Monday, February 11, 2008

Fierce Invalids

As previously mentioned, I recently finished reading Tom Robbin's book Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates. It's actually my second time reading it- another unusual feat for me. My To Read stack is usually way too large to accommodate a re-read. But for Tom Robbins, I make an exception.

So, to say I like this book is a serious understatement. It's got a crazy jumbled plot, an interesting mix of philosophy, religion and anarchy, and a bit more sex *blush* than the books I usually read... probably because I usually read books about design, business and leadership (Richard Branson's business autobiography "Losing My Virginity" being the notable exception - a business memoir that mentions the boudoir).

Moving on! The value & importance of having a lively sense of humor is a key theme throughout Fierce Invalids. That's one of the things I love about it. I want to share a scene where Switters (the main character) is remembering a discussion he had with his grandmother (whom he calls Maestra). I don't know how much validity there is to the idea he presents, but it does make a certain amount of sense to me and it really got into my head. Maestra says:

"All depression has its roots in self-pity, and all self-pity is rooted in people taking themselves too seriously."

Switters had disputed her assertion. Even at seventeen, he was aware that depression could have chemical causes.

"The key word here is
roots," Maestra had countered. "The roots of depression... [she then talks about early adolescence & development, and concludes] unless someone stronger and wiser - a friend, a parent, a novelist, filmmaker, teacher or musician - can josh us out of it, can elevate us and show us how petty and pompous and monumentally useless it is to take ourselves seriously, then depression can become a habit, which, in turn, can produce a neurological imprint... Gradually, our brain chemistry becomes conditioned to react to negative stimuli in a particular, predictable way... Once depression has become electrochemically integrated, it can be extremely difficult to philosophically or psychologically override it; by then it's playing by physical rules, a whole different ball game.

Here's to not taking ourselves too seriously!


Dad said...

Hi Dan: Amen to that! Depression is real, no doubt about it, but it's seen and defined in many different ways by different folks.....and it can be 'dealt with' in many different ways (my favorite is jogging).... another plug (albeit a cognitive one) for : S=R/E again..... good job and insight.... Dad

Anonymous said...

hey i'm a high school student out of fl who is currently reading Fierce Inalids. I agree that he's a phenomenal writer and whenever i get depressed I definitely latch onto this quote. If you liked Fierce Invalids you might want to look into reading Still Life With Woodpecker. It's a bit risque but totally worth the read. Everyone i recommend it to absolutely loves it. Just thought I'd offer some feedback. Feel free to contact me: Peace.