029 đź“» !Shock!

🚨 Assume there are spoilers everywhere. 🚨

Hello, everyone. I am Ithaka. And this is Sponge, a podcast where we absorb elements from the world to form a perspective of our own and find beauty.

The theme for today’s episode is this: shock value is underrated, especially the value of sustained shock, considering that it is an excellent way to veil other sustained emotions that may not be as immediately appealing as shock. That is something I absorbed while reading “Snuff” by Chuck Palahniuk.

Spoiler alert, everyone. Spoiler alert. “Snuff,” written by Chuck Palahniuk, is a fictional work. In this episode, there will be quotes from various parts of this book. If you plan to read “Snuff” and do not want spoilers, do not listen to this episode at this time.

This book, as the title suggests, deals with many topics related to sex. A snuff film, as defined by Oxford Languages, is, quote, “a pornographic movie of an actual murder.” End quote.

However, I will not mark this episode as an explicit episode, because:

One, The book itself isn’t in the erotica category. As you will soon hear, when I read the blurb, it is categorized as literary fiction. And the curious thing about what the literati call “literary fiction” is that all kinds of sexual things happen, but it counts as art. I guess it’s the same as when you look at naked statues from the Renaissance masters. Mmm. I find the distinction of literary versus not literary—especially literary with a capital L and the works that don’t get to use that capital L—obnoxious. That said, I do like this book, and I adore Chuck Palahniuk’s writing, in general. So, I am glad that it isn’t categorized as erotica, which I have nothing against, however, which would’ve meant that the book cannot be accessed by a wider range of people.

Another reason this episode isn’t marked explicit is that, aside from how the book was categorized by other people, I, personally, from having read it a few times, do not think it’s about sex at all.

That’s the curious thing. I love Chuck P.’s writing because he can write about the muck on the greasy streets and make it sound like the hottest thing ever. But when he actually talks about sex, strangely, what I found was that the book wasn’t sexual at all. Far from it. Amidst all the sex talk, it is one the most tragic books I have ever read, and it is so because it doesn’t attempt to directly elicit emotions of tragedy. No. What it does is throw shock at your face, with the title “Snuff,” and also, quite clearly, through the blurb.

Let me read you the blurb.

Quote, “In the crowded greenroom of a porn-movie production, hundreds of men mill around in their boxers, awaiting their turn with the legendary Cassie Wright. An aging adult film star, Cassie Wright intends to cap her career by breaking the world record for serial fornication by having sex with 600 men on camera—one of whom may want to kill her. Told from the perspectives of Mr. 72, Mr. 137, Mr. 600, and Sheila, the talent wrangler who must keep it all under control, Snuff is a dark, wild, and lethally funny novel that brings the presence of pornography in contemporary life into the realm of literary fiction.” End quote.

This blurb contains the words porn, adult film star, and serial fornication. Also it contains the phrase “one of whom may want to kill her.” Just like the title, it throws shock at your face. And that might deter some people from reading this book, which would be unfortunate, because I think this book contains emotions that would not have been appealing at all, had shock not been used. And thus, shock value is underrated, especially the value of sustained shock, considering that it is an excellent way to veil other sustained emotions that may not be as immediately appealing as shock.

And in the case of this book, the primary sustained emotion that may not be as immediately appealing as shock is: tragedy.

Oh, so much tragedy.

As I said, I like Chuck P. for his amazing skill of making everything about sex, even when he isn’t actually talking about sex, so I was really curious about what would happen if he were to directly talk about sex. Turns out, once again, when he is talking about something, he isn’t talking about that at all. He is talking about something else, and from that apparent initial disparity comes my adoration of his writing.

And when I say “sex” in the phrase “his amazing skill of making everything about sex,” I don’t mean sex in the most limited sense of the word. I don’t mean the sexual act itself or the biological body parts. I mean “sex” in the poetic sense. When one thing touches another. One person touches another. When the world surrounding you brushes against you, caresses you, and kisses you. That is what I mean by “sex.”

On a side note, I believe that humans who do not understand this level of sex will be replaced by humanoid robots driven by artificial intelligence, pretty soon. This is only half a joke. Most of the mechanical things that happen around sex—the sexual act as well as many aspects of reproduction—will become replaceable in the next century, the latest, and possibly, in the next few decades. If a human being cannot fathom the depth of sex beyond body parts and mechanical intercourse, they will be easily replaceable. But sex that is beyond body parts and mechanical intercourse isn’t only about sex. It is like Chuck P.’s writing. It is about everything: connection, interaction, action-reaction.

Will artificial intelligence be able to make non-linear connections? Perhaps I am underestimating the future of AI. But even so, the only hope for humans would be to develop the side of themselves that isn’t as easily replaceable as some other parts, such as linear thinking, so-called scientific logic, as well as statistics, datasets, etc, etc. Focusing on the body, as well as the emotions connected to the body; feeling the world; seeing things in things that aren’t the thing itself—as in, seeing flowers in things other than flowers, seeing the sky in things that aren’t the sky, seeing love in things that aren’t love—that will be the last thing that humans can hope to cherish as their own, in my opinion.

And if AIs happen to become actually conscious, in that they can not only become an office drone, but also contemplate their place in the universe, and apply such contemplations to their fellow AIs and/or humans—then, well. Then humans will just have to suck up the fact that they won’t be the only species that can make observations. True observations, with consciousness. We’ll have to learn to coexist with another species that can influence the world through its observations.

Anyway. See. “Snuff” isn’t about sex. So actually I strongly believe that it and other stories that contain sex should not sit under rated R or with any kind of content warning. The nature of the content of this book should be abundantly clear from the title and the description. If someone doesn’t want to read it, then that’s fine, but I’m saying, people should not be prevented from encountering the title of this book or the blurb, just because some persons believe that direct mentions of sex will destroy innocent souls. I think the limited thinking of only seeing sex when there is sex will not help any human. You know, they already have all kinds of haptic gloves and genitalia-shaped vibrators to do the mechanical work for humans. So, I would say a book like “Snuff” is critical in preparing souls, innocent or otherwise, for the next stage of human existence—which is that mechanical repetition won’t be the problem anymore. What are you trying to convey through the mechanical repetition? Hopefully you’re not stuck in the phase of mechanical repetition for the sake of repetition. Anything that is repetitive and mechanical—machines do it better. Let’s try to be human.

Okay. With that little rant over, oh, there is so much tragedy in this book. At its core, this book is pure sorrow. And… tragedy is a word that, in my case, evokes images of… Greek tragedies. Big stories. And in that sense, yes, this book has that, where… it makes larger observations of the porn industry, the people in it, the people who consume it, capitalism that enables all that, technology that enables all that, as well as history.

However, sorrow… sorrow is something more personal. That’s how the word feels to me. And this book oozes out sorrow. In all directions. The sorrow drips from the words and settles on the depressingly unclean floor as a puddle of misery.

So, on all levels—the societal, historical, economic, literary, psychological, physical, personal, and public levels—this book is… it is a sad book.

Considering that, I think it was an excellent choice to title the book “Snuff” and insert so many sex and sex-related elements in the book. Because, if you think people won’t read this book because it is so overtly about sex, then consider how even fewer people would be willing to read it if it were overtly about tragedy and sorrow. Sustained shock is an excellent way to veil all this tragedy and sorrow. Because, at least, shock is appealing.

Shock is appealing, even if we may not want to admit that to ourselves. Our brains—as in, the average human brain, although maybe not literally every single human brain—our brains are wired to notice new things. That was what we needed for survival in the cave man era, and that is still what we need in this era—problem is, that in this era, there is sooooo much new stuff: new information, stimuli, and people, all the time; in our immediate physical vicinity, and if not that, in our devices.

This also has to do with episode 18, in which we talked about “Dopamine Nation” by Dr. Anna Lembke. New information, stimuli, people. Dopamine. And sometimes, the rush of dopamine is so great, it registers as shock.

After the shock, there may come a down, as tends to happen with any kind of high. Nevertheless, shock is appealing because dopamine rushes, undeniably, hook us. The difference in our reaction lies in our ability to consciously process such phenomena and make decisions about them. For example, knowing that we get easily excited, either in desirable or undesirable directions, when we watch shocking videos, we may decide to either significantly reduce our intake of such videos, or, heck, maybe even more shock will numb us. Maybe shock therapy using shocking videos may bring us to a state in which we cease to be so excited by such videos. I’m not attempting to discuss what’s the right or wrong strategy here; I’m saying, what people decide to do may differ from person to person.

Either way, it is undeniable that shock is so appealing at the fundamental level, that even as we don’t want them, we are drawn to them. And sometimes, tragedy and sorrow themselves are shocking.

We’ve all watched those Youtube commercials with dire scenes of poverty, disease, and war. Their shock comes directly from the tragedy and sorrow. So, initially one might wonder why Mr. Palahniuk didn’t take this route, if he wanted to write a story with so much tragedy and sorrow.

My guess is that, when tragedy and sorrow are directly shocking, or comparatively the most shocking element within a given story, such as a book or a commercial, then they devalue the tragedy and sorrow. Part of it may be due to the down we feel after a dopamine rush from shock, and part of it may be what we’ve internalized socially and culturally; as in, we tend to undervalue what is overly shocking, purely because it is shocking. This might have to do with how commercial shock has become; how replicable; how… mechanical. By now we are aware of the usual formulas for generating shock, and when an entity uses such formulas to trigger tragedy and sorrow, unfortunately, personally, what I feel is not compassion or pity. In my head I know or can imagine that experiences of poverty, disease, and war must be terrible; in my heart, unfortunately, no. Because what these Youtube commercials are doing is also done by people who advertise their moneymaking pyramid schemes.

So, I would say there was immense value in Mr. Palahniuk not making sadness the center of the focus of his book; at least at first sight. At first sight, “Snuff” looks like it’s a book about sex. There is so much sex talk, it seems that that’s all it’s got going for itself. So, what it gives is a triple shock treatment. First, there is the shock at so much sex being thrown at your face. Then, there is the shock at the realization that the book actually isn’t about sex at its core; it simply uses sex as a tool. Third, there is the shock from realizing that the core emotions, of all emotions, are sadness, sorrow, agony, heartbreak, misery, and heartache—insert any synonym. Personally, I didn’t immediately associate such emotions with sex in the context of this blurb, which, remember, contains the words porn, adult film star, and serial fornication. Also it contains the phrase “one of whom may want to kill her.” I expected dark humor, because I’d read other stories from Chuck P., but this level of tragedy—I didn’t expect it, and that was the most shocking shock of the triple shock treatment.

And because it was the strongest of the triple shock, it stuck with me, in a way impossible with moneymaking pyramid scheme advertising, or, unfortunately, commercials that attempt to encourage donations.

And… really, I think people who make non-profit commercials should study shock value, either through books like this, or human psychology in general.

Speaking of studying, let’s look at the definition of shock value.

Quote from Wikipedia, “Shock value is the potential of an image, text, action, or other form of communication, such as a public execution, to provoke a reaction of sharp disgust, shock, anger, fear, or similar negative emotions.” End quote.

Some may argue that, for non-profit ad makers to have to study this, for them to have to care about how their ads are perceived is inhuman, because they’re doing good work—but, well, what’s the goal here? To get donations to fight poverty, disease, and war? Or to feel righteous about how right it is to fight poverty, disease, and war?

Storytelling is a skill. I believe every human is capable of developing that skill, because I believe humans are storytelling beings. But if someone just emphasizes the tragic aspects, hoping that that will automatically trigger the obligation to donate? Then they aren’t developing their skill. If anything, non-profits need to develop their storytelling skills more than commercial enterprises when they’re making their commercials, because, look. The word commercial. That already indicates that non-profits cannot be purely non-commercial. The second they run ads to get other people’s money, they’re competing for the attention of overtly commercial enterprises. And the difference is that the overtly commercial enterprises can afford to spend money on advertising, well, at least theoretically, because theoretically, if they’re commercial, they make some sort of money. Whereas, the non-profits? It’s in their name. They don’t make a profit. Or they aren’t supposed to. So they, of all folks who create commercials, would benefit the most from creating effective commercials.

Throwing tragedy at people’s faces isn’t it. Too much overt sex may turn off people; but too much tragedy? There is less “may.” Too much tragedy likely turns off people.

Perhaps this is why, sometimes, non-profits try to recruit celebrities, or at least someone with a known history. Known history means known story. And whatever these organizations spend on such celebrity endorsements may actually be worth the money, more than running random commercials on Youtube.

Because, one: celebrities or even just anyone with a known face tends to appeal to people, not only because of their beauty but because of their familiarity, thus veiling the potentially repulsive tragedy somewhat.

Two: the familiarity goes beyond the first impression of the commercial. Potential donors can check the history and story of these endorsers. This is drastically different from some of the faceless non-profit organizations. And having a face, or at least a voice, is critically important these days. The more money you want from people, the more you need to show them that you’re real. Especially given that nowadays, everyone is used to stories of non-profits stealing money. It’s almost like, someone of them, because these people who… who embezzle money from non-profit organizations, because their faces are so unknown, this is their enterprise—to embezzle, not to actually help anybody.

The most popular influencers aren’t being stupid, when they share every detail about their lives; although it is debatable whether that degree of familiarity is required in every field. There is a lot to learn from successful influencers. They are living proof that basically, when you have a face, voice, history, and story that people identify with, you can ask them for pretty much… anything.

In the end, kindness prevails over generating a sense of obligation, and I believe kindness is what successful influencers tend to give their followers. Their persona itself may not be kind, depending on what they’re trying to do, but the way they deliver their information is kind. It’s the same with any fiction book. The content of the book may be about a serial killer, but the writer can deliver information in such a way that the book itself is kind.

And… yeah. Non-profits would benefit greatly from learning that, or hiring people who know that when they make their ads. It would increase the amount of donations and help them actually fight against poverty, disease, and war.

Meanwhile, Chuck P. tells his story splendidly. I never thought that I would feel like crying while reading about porn stars. And it’s not… I don’t find porn stars sad by default. I feel no… I am neutral toward porn. There are too many different kinds of porn for me to say porn is bad or good or wrong or right or undesirable or desirable, or use any other adjectives with inherent value judgment. So, I wasn’t sad because the book was about sex. I was sad because of the shock at the amount of sex talk, then from the shock at the surprise that the book actually wasn’t about sex, then from the shock that the book was actually about tragedy and sorrow—and most importantly, after this triple shock treatment, I was sad from the down that followed these series of rushes. And that down, combined with how the third shock itself was tragedy and sorrow, just… it completely made me sad.

Before we continue, a reminder. Please leave a review and/or rating where you listen to this podcast, so that other Thursday’s children can find it.

While you do that, let me return to the topic of sorrow. All the earlier things said, despite the amount of sorrow in this book, Mr. Palahniuk does his usual thing with dark humor, so that it’s still quite funny. In the sorrow, there is great joy. It’s similar to what we talked about at the end of the last episode. We talked about waves. Things have two sides. At least two sides.

We live in a world of experiences in which such experiences can only be perceived through contrast. If there is no darkness, then there is no warm and bright light. If there is no light, then there is no comforting and restful darkness. The two-sidedness or multi-sidedness isn’t about inherent good or bad, either. Actually, the less a person can see the greater picture, at the universe level, the more good or bad an event may seem, which continuously exacerbates the situation toward the bad. Anytime there is resistance to seeing various sides, that resistance seems to multiply, and even as the world still consists of many sides, what is deemed as the worse side keeps multiplying. Ironically, the more all sides are embraced and therefore one doesn’t obsess over what is good, what is good keeps multiplying.

This isn’t to say that we all should abandon personal opinions and tastes. Gods, no. It’s only that, we can’t be obsessed about moral right and wrong all the time, because thereby we will be wrong, probably all the time. We all know this from extreme zealots of religion. Or war fanatics. Or modern gurus who talk on and on about what people should do with their bodies. And I mean all gurus on both sides of the political spectrum. Or multiple sides of the political spectrum. Or outside of the political spectrum. I abhor them all equally. I guess in my abhorrence, either I am clinging to my values about right and wrong, or, I might argue, in my equal abhorrence, I am embracing them all equally.

At any rate, aside from some of these extreme cases like religious zealots, war fanatics, and modern gurus who think they can dictate what other people do with their bodies, whichever political camp they think they belong to or don’t belong to, many other things in life are neutral. Sex: neutral. Even sorrow: neutral. It’s only that as soon as a human starts talking about such neutral things, it becomes incredibly difficult to detach them from value judgments. So it’s sometimes nice to read a book like this, which turns your expectations upside down. Or, turned my expectations upside down, at least.

See, another great thing about the storytelling being that humans are is that humans can imagine things. We cannot, in real life, most of us, go to the greenroom where 600 dudes are hanging around to set the greatest serial fornication record of all time. But we can read about it and imagine it. For me, this is one of the greatest reasons I read fiction: to go to situations that I will likely never encounter in real life. I would say, in this case, I will never encounter a situation like this, because I cannot be one of the 600 men, and also I am not a porn star. Only through a fictional story might I ever experience something like this.

Fiction is where we can experience the full range of emotions without actually having to live them. Some say that is fake and therefore worthless. I disagree entirely. Emotions, whether you live through them in your real life or in fiction, are always real, or at least real equally and fake equally. It seems quite crazy to me that, because a person won’t ever be one of the 600 dudes or the porn queen in this book, that person shouldn’t bother to feel the emotions that they are feeling. It really sounds crazy to me. Being born a human, to only live the life one is living? And oh, of course personal choices are valid, but I’m saying, to say that there is no worth in fiction because emotions born out of fiction are fake? Completely crazy to me. So we’re supposed to read only how-to manuals—which are sometimes valuable—and wait around to feel the normally fairly narrow emotional range that a given person can feel through their direct life experiences? Or we’re supposed to YOLO our way through life, trying to be the porn queen and one of the 600 dudes in one lifetime? Just… makes no sense to me. Please don’t try to be both the porn queen and one of the 600 dudes just to experience their different emotions. Just read the book. We are humans. We are built to tell stories and imagine things. I say we take advantage of that from the comfort of our desk or bed or wherever we usually read books. And what we get from such endeavors is neither fake nor worthless.

So, how exactly is tragedy depicted in this book? Mostly, it is situational, and not directly tragic. This book isn’t about people catching diseases and dying miserably—at least mostly, it’s not about that.

Here’s a scene. While these guys wait around for their turn to come, they talk about gang tattoos. One of the characters talks about how his adopted dad told him what the different gang tattoos look like and what they mean. But from that, suddenly we go to the following paragraph, which explains how this dad knew so much about gang tattoos even though he wasn’t in a gang.

Quote, “My adopted dad was an accountant for a big Fortune 500 corporation. Him, me, and my adopted mom lived in the suburbs in an English Tudor house with a gigantic basement where he fiddled with model trains. The other dads were lawyers and research chemists, but they all ran model trains. Every weekend they could, they’d load into a family van and cruise into the city for research. Snapping pictures of gang members. Gang graffiti. Sex workers walking their tracks. Litter and pollution and homeless heroin addicts. All this, they’d study and bicker about, trying to outdo each other with the most realistic, the grittiest scenes of urban decay they could create in HO train scale in a subdivision basement.” End quote.

I mean. The subtlety of the tragedy here. Imagine this dad, living this life of suburban monotony, spending his entire free time creating miniature versions of the real wild world that he will never experience. Being a hypocrite. Being this accountant for a Fortune 500 while he tails gang members in his spare time.

One might argue that, by extension, we, the readers, are doing something similar. We’re experiencing the “real wild world,” in air quotes, through fiction. But I think that usually, the important difference would be that most readers do not read fiction to replicate the fictional world. And most readers aren’t being hypocrites about what they like.

Whereas, this dad, he is replicating the real world around him, as depicted in this fiction. And, it’s not in this particular quote, but he does this replication while his real life is sterile—sexually, and in terms of friendships as well, because it sounds like all the other men in this neighborhood each, individually, separately, run their replication projects.

And no, I don’t think that one needs 600 Facebook friends and 5,000 real-life friends to be considered a fulfilled human being, but the way this replication endeavor is described in the book—it is undeniably tragic. There can be plenty of cases in which people create miniature scenery because they genuinely enjoy it, but this dad does this because he is empty. This is an obsession for him to not think about the vast hollowness of his actual life.

And then, in the same part, after talking about all the different gang tattoos some more, comes this paragraph about our porn queen, who is about to be having sex on camera with 600 guys.

Quote, “Right now, up those stairs, the lady behind the door, she’s neutral territory. A shrine where you pilgrimage a thousand miles on your knees to pay tribute. Same as Jerusalem or some church. Special to white supremacists and Bloods, Crips, and Ninjas, a lady who transcends turf wars for power. Who transcends race and nationality and family. Every man here might hate every other man, outside of here we might all kill each other, but we all love her.

Our Holy Ground. Cassy Wright, our angel of peace.” End quote.

I mean. This. Humor, and such dramatic language. And the juxtapositions. So many of them. On one layer, there are all these different creeds and gangs put side by side. On another layer, there is the aforementioned juxtaposition of the dad who creates these miniature sceneries and the real-life world. And on yet another layer, the greater subject matters of this book are juxtaposed: this situation where 600 men are gathered to have sex, on camera, with one woman, with this language of utter harmony, unity, and peace.

And at the same time, it’s tragic how harmony, unity, and peace can, really, as this quote says… I wouldn’t say can only be obtained when there’s an attempt to set a serial fornication record, but really, it’s difficult to witness this level of harmony, unity, and peace, unless there are special circumstances like this one, in this book. There is, weirdly, so much love in this book, which is… weird but a pleasure to read.

And then here are some of the more tragic quotes.

Quote, “During the First World War, I told her, Hitler had been a runner, delivering messages between the German trenches, and he was disgusted by seeing his fellow soldiers visit French brothels. To keep the Aryan bloodlines pure, and prevent the spread of venereal disease, he commissioned an inflatable doll that Nazi troops could take into battle. Hitler himself designed the dolls to have blond hair and large breasts. The Allied firebombing of Dresden destroyed the factory before the dolls could go into wide distribution.” End quote.

Yeah. There is a lot of history in this book, and I am not sure how much of it is real and how much is not. But this book being fiction, I don’t think the key is that Hitler actually invented the sex doll. I think the key is that I would, and perhaps other readers would, believe this. He was a guy mental enough to do this. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d actually done it.

And this book has this… it has this overall anatomical curiosity about human body parts. It’s clinical, almost, in the way it dissects body parts, and also, as an extension, toward life in general. Perhaps the body is life. And thus once the body is treated as such a clinical and anatomical curiosity, which can go on to be commercially mass-produced as either sex dolls or porn—and not just any porn, in this case, but one where the goal is to set a record in which one woman has the most sex with as many men as possible in one go—perhaps life becomes exactly what the body is: a clinical and anatomical curiosity, able to be commercially mass-produced.

Not only that, infinitely inflating, until it bursts, the way an inflatable sex doll presumably would, at some point. Capitalism, market-driven priorities, technology, human sacrifice—they’re all in there, in this book.

And then in the same scene:

Quote, “The religious school she went to, growing up, Ms. Wright said how all the girls had to wear a scarf tied to cover their ears at all times. Based on the biblical idea that the Virgin Mary became pregnant when the Holy Spirit whispered in her ear. The idea that ears were vaginas. That, hearing just one wrong idea, you lost your innocence. One detail too many and you’d be ruined. Overdosed on information.” End quote.

And I don’t think I need to explain why this quote is tragic.

There is very little plot in this book. Most everything happens within the greenroom where these 600 men are gathered. And there are multiple viewpoints. This itself causes a lot of human sorrow—that everyone has their own viewpoints, and has their own thoughts in their heads. And it’s unavoidable. Each of the characters observes the other and forms opinions. Many such opinions are incorrect, many such opinions are correct. Many others are neither incorrect nor correct; their point of existence isn’t to prove correctness.

If there had been any more plot, the book might have been more depressing. But at least the characters are so stark, we as readers have something to hang on to.

All these humans float around in the greenroom and make you wonder if this isn’t what happens at a larger scale in the world outside of this greenroom. These people aren’t wandering. They are utterly lost. They don’t know when they’ll be called to have sex with this porn star; they don’t know when the shoot will end; they don’t know whether they will have sex with her before the shoot ends—because, she might die before the 600th person enters the sex room.

There is the tragedy of parental love, of filial love, and of birth itself. There are broken dreams, should-have-been’s, and could-have-been’s. Also, the beauty of the body, the ugliness of the body, and the fleeting nature of the body.

What a weird, weird book. It filled a place in this world that only it can fill, and nothing else.

I will end with this very sad quote.

Quote, “ “It only takes one mistake,” the Dan Banyan guy says, “and nothing else you ever do will matter.” With his empty hand, he takes one of my hands. His fingers feel hot, fever-hot, and pounding with his heartbeats. He turns my hand palm-up saying, “No matter how hard you work or how smart you become, you’ll always be known for that one poor choice.” He sets the blue pill on my palm, saying, “Do that one wrong thing—and you’ll be dead for the rest of your life.” “ End quote.

Yeah. One of the themes that the book revolves around is choices. And the way each of these choices is depicted, I don’t think they’re about right and wrong. But it seems that regret certainly doesn’t help, whether the choice itself was right or wrong. And regret tends to come from too much thinking about past choices or future choices.

Is regret good? Bad? Right? Wrong? I don’t know. I guess sometimes regret is necessary so we don’t make the same mistakes again. But in the end, even that act, that “not making the same mistake again” can only happen when we’re in the present when we can make the decision not to make the same mistake again.

So, perhaps, all we can try to do is to stay in the present. Then, even though it is near-impossible for a third party to tell whether our decisions were right or wrong, at least we’ll be able to make more right decisions for ourselves, than wrong ones.

And that is all for this episode. Thank you for listening.

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You can find a link to the full transcript in the show notes. Also, visit ithakaonmymind.com to find out more about everything else I do, besides Sponge.

Stay true, everybody.

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