Chuck LoPresti's Reviews > The Jokers

The Jokers by Albert Cossery
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it was amazing

Others have summarized this well enough so no need to do that here - but I'd like to add some emphasis on the life-affirming absurdity and (Groucho, Chico and Harpo) Marxism on proud display here.

Taking yourself and your misery too seriously might be one of the worst actions you can self-inflict. This book gives you some major keys to unlock some very important lessons and it's done in a smart and light handed way. I wish Alain de Botton would write "How Cossery Can Change Your Life" and use liberal Marx Brothers quotes to illustrate his ever so salient points.

Ah fuck it - I'll do it myself despite the fact that I'll only fall short and potentially amuse only myself in the process:

"The only time I stopped acting was when I played the harp." - Harpo

Cossery's writer character is tense and pensive - only experiencing joy when he pens his feathered invectives - this teaches you that if you are a writer - you should write - (it took Proust 4000+ pages to get to the same point). Like Harpo as he looked to the sky before playing - Cossery's characters are very self-aware and never fail to linger long enough in their actions to extract every possible drop of essence from an experience.

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." - Groucho

Elitism in general is scorned as merriment and pleasure are the only conditions worthy of your attention. The more you get away from the labored sanity of a tedious life - the freer you are. Punish yourself for bothering to hate. A young man in The Jokers attempts to join ranks with the pranksters only to be marginalized for his failure to abandon bitterness.

"A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." - Groucho

Cossery uses the 17 year old daughter of his Egyptian Ubu to expose the shortcomings of a foolish despot. Her naiveté is on full display as she achieves her greatest joys in rubbing either sand or people against her supple flesh. She has no need to unlearn serious hate and thus makes the perfect foil to her oppressive father who understands nothing other than the fleeting essence of dictatorial power. Cossery’s penman teaches primarily to usurp the stifling role of formalized “education.” The children already understand – just don’t let someone teach that out of them.

“Humor is reason gone mad.” – Groucho

If you weep instead of snicker – you are taking both sides of the sword. Leaders can only control those willing to sulk and suffer. You’re going to more effectively usurp pernicious influence with praise than bitterness. Bigger weeds are more easily located and uprooted. Swell the egoists head until it can only pop to vent pressure. Prose and portraiture are effective tools to achieve this air. Cossery asks how a man so foolish can be mocked in image and it takes an artist’s skill to do just that. It’s a writer’s panegyric that is dangled throughout the book as the trocar that will ultimately pierce the dead man’s organs.

“I remember the first time I had sex - I kept the receipt.” - Groucho

The Jokers’ second scene is a great scene of a woman refusing money for a night of impulsive passion. The man seeks to subjugate his prey by reducing the experience to banaustic efficiency. The woman refuses to be subjugated and is then named and transcends servitude. Cossery has a Proustian understanding of sexual-social interaction and an Antal Szerbian comprehension that if you stare too long at the vacuous pit of love you are prone to unplanned flights from reality.

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.” – Groucho
That is damn perfect.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 9, 2011 – Shelved
September 9, 2011 – Finished Reading

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Chuck LoPresti And yes I know my review has 666 words.

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