Notes on Chuck Palahniuk Book Signing at Olsson's


Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When they had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving them an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave.

Athena was telling them to fall in love.

Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy…

…Colonizing me. Occupying me. The mass media, the culture, everything laying its eggs under my skin. Big Brother filling me with need.

Do I really want a big house, a fast car, a thousand beautiful sex partners? Do I really want these things? Or am I trained to want them?

Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now? Am I just under a spell that says nothing is ever good enough?

The best way to waste your life is by taking notes. The easiest way to avoid living is to just watch. Look for the details. Report. Don’t participate. Let Big Brother do the singing and dancing for you. Be a reporter. Be a good witness. A grateful member of the audience.

The details on Olsson’s bookstore are it’s right outside the Metro Center Metro stop in downtown Washington DC. Metro is what people from the District call the subway. The District is what people from DC call DC.

The details on our trip to Olsson’s to see Chuck Palahniuk in the flesh are it was crowded and smelled of Asian sweat dried on blue oxford shirts and fragrant oils rubbed into dreadlocks formed years ago using scrambled eggs and flour. Kids in thick glasses stood up and asked intelligent questions about Chuck’s commentary on the nuclear family and about what books are going to be made into the next movie.

The details on Chuck are his first words were, “Dry your little eyes.” His second spoken sentence was, “I’m not going to read any of the book to you tonight.” Third, “There are copies of the book here tonight, and you can buy it and read it for yourself.”

The details on that night were Chuck didn’t bore us with readings from a book we were all reading or going to read ASAP. He told us stories about peeping toms jerking off under his sister’s trailer window, about passing kidney stones, passing out in a bathtub full of his own blood and urine, about drugging a single serving friend on a flight back from the UK and having to keep watch over his dangerously low heartrate for 8 hours, watching the Ya Ya Sisterhood 4 times in a row.

A Snider: it was awesome. u would’ve freaked. someone asked for his movie recommendations
Sparkle Motion: get out
A Snider: #1: Jesus of Montreal. i was like holy shit. Riddell and Chuck??? i gotta watch it again
Sparkle Motion: fur sure
A Snider: someone asked about how his characters reach a moral rock bottom and then are born again and asked whether that was an intentional theme of redemption or if he’s mocking religion. he said that he thinks part of the idea with god is that we can’t know him, at least not until after we die, and he’s mocking all these metaphors we have for understanding god
Sparkle Motion: !
A Snider: yeah. his comments were all on this kind of spiritual plane. he talked about his thing is to explore topics, that his writing is theraphy where he can explore these things obtusely
Sparkle Motion: no recording, huh?
Sparkle Motion: maybe a kazaa fan.
A Snider: i forgot to ask. i was thinking it big time tho. would be clutch
A Snider: anyway, explore these things until he’s desensitized to it and can deal with it, live around it, and make fun of it. he said if we can live beside all these things and then laugh at them, then they’re done. not issues
Sparkle Motion: ohmygosh
A Snider: something like that. but i was thinking at one point: this is the best sermon i’ve heard for a long time!
Sparkle Motion: akkk