Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How I Became Stupid

Usually when I think about filmed material, it's from an amateur writer who has obviously used it as the entire basis for their fiction.  How I Became Stupid, a book written by Martin Page that was all the rage in Europe about a decade back, evokes filmed material for me, but in a good way.

Okay, some of the filmed material is based on printed material.  I'll start with Scott Pilgrim, who was originally the subject of a series of graphic novels, but also became a film a few years back.  Page evokes the cleverness and flippant nature of the real truths being explored in the material embodied by Scott Pilgrim.  That's all well and good.  Then there's How I Met Your Mother, an American sitcom that is also very similar, heartbreaking and thought-provoking and hilarious all at the same time.

It's also like A Christmas Carol.

How I Became Stupid is a title that is all but self-explanatory.  The main character believes that he's cursed by his own intelligence, unable to enjoy his life because he doesn't have the advantages traditionally associated with success.  So he undertakes a journey to undo everything that defines him.  he attempts to become an alcoholic, he considers suicide, and yes, he tries to become stupid, which is to say extremely superficial.  All of it addresses real concerns in an exaggerated manner, and yes, is heartbreaking and thought-provoking and hilarious all at the same time.  Actually, another bit of filmed material I can reference is (500) Days of Summer.

A few years back I read a similar book, Hector and the Search for Happiness, a European book of the same pedigree as How I Became Stupid.  I bought Stupid because I wanted to see if Page could in fact help me with a similar situation. That's why the good readers read what they read, because they want to have a little solace in their lives.  Stupid settles for affirmative adventures, but as a part of the tapestry telling me that all my troubles are not the end-all and be-all of my life, I guess I can still appreciate the message.

...Still, I wish Page didn't have to suggest like everyone else that happiness and success are things that you just stumble into, because there really is the possibility that they really aren't.  Is there a depressing version of this narrative that still gives hope?

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