Choke

I got around to finishing Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk. It’s a novel about Victor Mancini, a sex addict who dropped out of med school to work and support his mother’s healthcare costs. Oh, and he mostly accomplishes this by nearly choking to death in restaurants, having some stranger save him, and then having the stranger feel responsible for Victor’s life, resulting in the savior sending him a check every year on his “birthday.” All sorts of potential mental problems for this character, but then again, that seems to be the trend with Palahniuk’s work. It’s a good read, entertaining and slightly thought-provoking as I’ve copied down many, many quotes I’ve picked up through my reading of this book. I still liked Invisible Monsters better though, and Palahniuk’s exploration of the ideas of beauty, whereas Choke deals primarily with addiction – sex addiction, that is. I mean, this book still grabs my attention since, you know, sex, but it just wasn’t nearly as gripping as Invisible Monsters. Maybe I just enjoyed Invisible Monsters more because of its delicious twist ending, and for Choke, it was more of a, “Oh…soooo…crazy people. Alright.”

I enjoy Palahniuk’s style. It’s very stream of consciousness, a relentless inner monologue with the protagonist/narrator. Anyways, here are a lots of lines and quotes I’ve highlighted during my reading. They don’t reflect my personal views necessarily, but they definitely made me stop and ponder for a beat or two, or just chuckle.

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“At that moment, it seemed the whole world cared what happened to him. All those people were hugging him and petting his hair. Everybody asked if he was okay. It seemed that moment would last forever. That you had to risk your life to get love. You had to get right to the edge of death to ever be saved.”

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“Art never comes from happiness.”

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“The truth is, every son raised by a single mom is pretty much born married. I don’t know, but until your mom dies it seems like all the other women in your life can never be more than just your mistress. In the modern Oedipal story, it’s the mother who kills the father and then takes the son. And it’s not as if you can divorce your mother. Or kill her.”

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“The old rule about how a thing of beauty is a joy forever, in my experience, even the most beauteous thing is only a joy for about three hours, tops.”

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“The story is that sex addicts become dependent on a body chemistry created by constant sex. Orgasms flood the body with endorphins that kill pain and tranquilize you. Sex addicts are really addicted to the endorphins, not the sex. Sex addicts have lower natural levels of monoamine oxidase. Sex addicts really crave the peptide phenylethylamine that might be triggered by danger, by infatuation, by risk and fear.”

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“The problem with sex is the same as with any addiction. You’re always recovering. You’re always backsliding. Acting out. Until you find something to fight for, you settle for something to fight against.”

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“It’s okay to cry as long as you’re faking it.”

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“The truth is, immigrants tend to be more American than people born here.”

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“. . . When you’re thinking about the rest of your life. . . you’re never really thinking more than a couple years down the road. . . by the time you’re thirty, your worst enemy is yourself.”

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“It’s funny how the beauty of art has so much more to do with the frame than with the artwork itself.”

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“The only way to get through medical school is mnemonics.”

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“Every woman is just a different kind of problem.”

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“I mean, I’m just tired of being wrong all the time just because I’m a guy.”

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“Every addiction. . . was was just a way to treat this same problem. Drugs or overeating or alcohol or sex, it was all just another way to find peace. To escape what we know. Our education. Our bite of the apple. Language…was just our way to explain away the wonder and the glory of the world. To deconstruct. To dismiss. . . People can’t deal with how beautiful the world really is. How it can’t be explained and understood.”

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“Anybody’s true nature is bullshit. There is no human soul. Emotion is bullshit. Love is bullshit . . . We live and we die and anything else is just delusion. It’s just passive chick bullshit about feelings and sensitivity. Just made-up subjective emotional crap. There is no soul. There is no God. There’s just decisions and disease and death.”

“Without access to true chaos, we’ll never have true peace.”

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“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.”

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“Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because nothing is as exciting as your fantasy.”

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Victor: “You want to know the real reason why I won’t fuck you? . . . Maybe the truth is I really want to like you instead.”

Paige: “Maybe sex and affection aren’t mutually exclusive.”

Victor: “Yes. Yes they are.”

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“This teacher and me wasted some sperm in the smokehouse, and for sure she thought it would turn into something romantic, but hey. Me being face deep in her wonderful rubbery butt, it’s amazing what a woman will read into it if you by accident say, I love you. Ten times out of ten, a guy means I love this.

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“That’s really what airlines call them, [comfort animals]. It can be a dog, a monkey, a rabbit, but no way can it be a cat. The government doesn’t consider a cat as comforting anybody.”

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“The only thing that separates us from the animals . . . is we have pornography. Just more symbols. . . [not] sure if this made us better than the animals or worse.”

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“She said when a boy and a girl dog copulate, the head of the boy’s penis swells and the vaginal muscles of the girl constrict. Even after sex, both dogs remain locked together, helpless and miserable for a brief period of time. [She] said this same scenario described most marriages.”

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“My point is, this is America. You start out with hand jobs and progress to orgies. You smoke some dope and then, the big H. This is our whole culture of bigger, better, stronger, faster. The key word is progress. In America, if your addiction isn’t always new and improved, you’re a failure.”

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“Women don’t want equal rights. They have more power being oppressed.They need men to be the vast enemy conspiracy. Their whole identity is based on it.”

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Mother:”You know the old phrase ‘Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it’? Well, I think those who remember their past are even worse off.”

Paige: “Those who remember the past tend to get the story really screwed up.”

Mother: “In my opinion, those who remember the past are paralyzed by it.”

Paige: “How about this: those who can forget the past are way ahead of the rest of us?”

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“All these names for the same place, all these symbols for the real thing. The Federation of Feminist Health Care Centers calls it the urethral sponge. The seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist Regnier de Graaf called this same mass of erectile tissue, nerves, and glands the female prostate. All these names for the two inches of urethra you can feel through the front wall of the vagina. The anterior wall of the vagina. What some people call the bladder neck. All of this just the same bean-shaped territory everybody wants to name. To stake with their own flag. Their symbol.”

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“When you’re an addict, you can go without feeling anything except drunk or stoned or hungry. Still, when you compare this to other feelings, to sadness, anger, fear, worry, despair, and depression, well, an addiction no longer looks so bad. It looks like a very viable option.”

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“What I want is to be needed. What I need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who I need is somebody that will eat up all my free time, my ego, my attention. Somebody addicted to me. A mutual addiction.”

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“Anything you can acquire . . . is only another thing you’ll lose.”

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“The slogan for America is ‘Not Good Enough.’ Nothing’s ever fast enough. Nothing’s big enough. We’re never satisfied. We’re always improving…”

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“There’s no way you can get the past right. You can pretend. You can delude yourself, but you can’t re-create what’s over.”

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“Because the only frontier left is the world of intangibles, ideas, stories, music, art.”

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