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TDB&TB Question #25 ~ Bauby's Message

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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TDB&TB Question #25 ~ Bauby's Message

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu May 29, 2008 7:55 am

What was the message of the book for you? What do you think Bauby wanted us to take from his writing? How did this book make you feel?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby fansmom » Thu May 29, 2008 2:02 pm

Ok, I only have time for one question, :banghead: but I'd say at least part of his purpose to tell people that he was still there. As when he sent out his "samizdat" letter, he wanted people who had known him to know that he wasn't a vegetable; that he was still the same thinking, feeling person he had been.

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Unread postby Betty Sue » Thu May 29, 2008 2:45 pm

The message of the book for me was to try to find the positive in any situation, to use creativity to enhance life, and not to give up. It reminded me to live in such as way as to have no serious regrets. And it impressed on me that people who may seem to be vegetables may be able to think very well and should be treated humanely.
I agree with fansmom that Bauby wanted everyone to know that he was still there to the end. I would think he also knew he had a unique story to tell and wanted to share it for the sake of others. I think he wanted people to be inspired by it.
The book made me feel in awe of Bauby's spirit, creativity and literary ability but disappointed in him for his lack of fidelity to his family. His coping with his disability inspired me more than his previous life, glittering though it was.
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Unread postby Parlez » Thu May 29, 2008 4:03 pm

For me, among other things, Bauby's message is about allowing people to help you. I can't conceive of what would've happened to Jean-Do if noone had come up with that alphabet. It was the catalyst for everything that followed, and it came from outside himself, from 'out of the blue' as it were. With that one amazing tool he was able get back in touch with his former friends and colleagues, he was willing to let his kids into his life, he could embrace an attitude of hope and optimism (and irony) and, of course, he could, and did, write a book. So, for me, the bottom line, message-wise, is: be open! You never know where creative ideas are going come from, and you never know when/where your angels are going show up! :angel:
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Unread postby gemini » Thu May 29, 2008 5:04 pm

fansmom wrote:Ok, I only have time for one question, :banghead: but I'd say at least part of his purpose to tell people that he was still there. As when he sent out his "samizdat" letter, he wanted people who had known him to know that he wasn't a vegetable; that he was still the same thinking, feeling person he had been.

I agree with you here, fansmom. I think he wanted to let the world know he was still in there. He also gave us a few lessons on what is important in life along the way.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Unread postby nebraska » Thu May 29, 2008 7:15 pm

What was the message of the book for you? What do you think Bauby wanted us to take from his writing? How did this book make you feel?

The message of the book for me was to really live my life, to appreciate each moment. Even the moments that aren't what I really dream of for my life. I don't know if that was Bauby's purpose in writing the book or not but that was what I got from it. He sent out newsletters to the people who knew him, so I don't think the purpose of DB&BF was to show his acquaintances that he was not a vegetable. I think he wanted to reach a wider audience with a more comprehensive message, but I am not sure exactly what it was. I think an appreciation of life, no matter what, was part of what he wanted to share with us. A portion of the message might have been to be more kind, to try to view matters from some one else's perspective. The chapters that detailed his misery when the TV was too loud or on the wrong channel or when the blinds had not been pulled and he had to lie in bright sun for several hours .... some of those experiences were really painful to read. So maybe his message was as simple as "Love life and be kind."

The movie affected me more deeply on an emotional level than the book. The beautiful writing in the book gave me pleasure. I thought it was inspiring. The movie, on the other hand, made me feel very sad and the combination of movie and book have left me feeling a bit morose.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu May 29, 2008 10:28 pm

I agree with all your ideas, well said! :cool: I sensed his struggle to be heard, to not have lived in vain, to get his story out and for people on a wider scale to understand what happened to him after his illness. It also taught me another lesson in the indomitable will of human beings and how tremendous odds can be overcome.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Parlez » Thu May 29, 2008 10:42 pm

The comments about Jean-Do wanting to reach out and let people know he was still alive reminds me of another book, written by someone who was similarly afflicted by a stroke several years ago. Ram Das (aka Richard Alpert) became wheelchair-bound from his stroke (thankfully he wasn't a victim of locked-in syndrome). He had written one bestseller, Be Here Now, prior to the stroke, and wrote a second one about his ordeal, entitled, Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying. His writing has more of a spiritual intent, but contains the same basic messages we're getting from Bauby's story: Stay connected; Be patient; Cultivate kindness; Use what you've got; Keep your sense of humor; and Find your Self.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby suec » Fri May 30, 2008 4:34 am

I think the positive side of it for me came from the fact that he didn't give up and do nothing. He couldn't use his body but he could use his mind, and so shared his extraordinary story. So it demonstrated what can be achieved when the will is there (in his case with help). It was a demonstration of looking for the butterflies in life, which sometimes we forget to do. The other thing I got from the story, apart from the physical horror of his situation, was his intense loneliness. So I was never vey far away from the sadness of that. I would also say that all along there has been something in the back of my mind, there has been a comment of Johnny's, which i can't remember to quote accurately. the gist was to really see people and really listen to what they are actually saying - not the words - but the meaning. If anyone has that quote, I'd love to see it again. But Jean-Do suffered from that, from people not seeing him and it's certainly a reminder to me to try not to do that.
Overall, I think he wanted to reach out to others, but also to continue to use what he had.
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Unread postby Liz » Fri May 30, 2008 1:05 pm

I’ve been thinking about the butterfly for the past few days. I think that the diving bell represents his imprisonment inside his body, and the butterfly his freedom from it….the ability to get out--either to escape his condition or to be able to communicate. By writing this book he has communicated to the world, even though he is still physically imprisoned in his diving bell. So, as Fansmom says, he has shown his friends, acquaintances and beyond that Jean-Do did not become a vegetable…..that he was still there, trying to get out…..and he did. This, I think, was his initial goal in writing the book.

But the message within the pages of the book is about acceptance and hope. I think he was attempting to help not only us, but himself, learn to accept whatever life throws at us, and to make the most of what we have to work with…..no matter what our condition. And I also think it is a story of hope. The last lines of the book indicate to me that he hasn’t given up hope of his condition somehow improving….or maybe he is hoping that death or the after-life will free him. What do you think? These are the lines:

Her (Claude Mandibil) purse is half open, and I see a hotel room key, a metro ticket, and a hundred-franc note folded in four, like objects brought back by a space probe sent to earth to study how earthlings live, travel, and trade with one another. The sight leaves me pensive and confused. Does the cosmos contain keys for opening up my diving bell? A subway line with no terminus? A currency strong enough to buy my freedom back? We must keep looking. I’ll be off now.
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Unread postby fansmom » Fri May 30, 2008 2:17 pm

Liz wrote:The last lines of the book indicate to me that he hasn’t given up hope of his condition somehow improving….or maybe he is hoping that death or the after-life will free him. What do you think? These are the lines:

Her (Claude Mandibil) purse is half open, and I see a hotel room key, a metro ticket, and a hundred-franc note folded in four, like objects brought back by a space probe sent to earth to study how earthlings live, travel, and trade with one another. The sight leaves me pensive and confused. Does the cosmos contain keys for opening up my diving bell? A subway line with no terminus? A currency strong enough to buy my freedom back? We must keep looking. I’ll be off now.
I like the juxtaposition of you signature with those lines, Liz, and yes, it does make me think that he hasn't given up hope in his freedom returning (shades of :capnjack: ), either in this life or another.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri May 30, 2008 9:51 pm

Interesting Liz that you say it is intended to teach us how to have hope and to live our life no matter what. Yet Schnabel wanted to make a movie to teach us how to accept death. Different perspectives indeed!

suec, I do remember the quote but haven't been able to put my hands on it. Maybe someone else will come through for us.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Parlez » Fri May 30, 2008 10:50 pm

Liz wrote:I’ve been thinking about the butterfly for the past few days. I think that the diving bell represents his imprisonment inside his body, and the butterfly his freedom from it….the ability to get out--either to escape his condition or to be able to communicate. By writing this book he has communicated to the world, even though he is still physically imprisoned in his diving bell. So, as Fansmom says, he has shown his friends, acquaintances and beyond that Jean-Do did not become a vegetable…..that he was still there, trying to get out…..and he did. This, I think, was his initial goal in writing the book.

But the message within the pages of the book is about acceptance and hope. I think he was attempting to help not only us, but himself, learn to accept whatever life throws at us, and to make the most of what we have to work with…..no matter what our condition. And I also think it is a story of hope. The last lines of the book indicate to me that he hasn’t given up hope of his condition somehow improving….or maybe he is hoping that death or the after-life will free him. What do you think? These are the lines:

Her (Claude Mandibil) purse is half open, and I see a hotel room key, a metro ticket, and a hundred-franc note folded in four, like objects brought back by a space probe sent to earth to study how earthlings live, travel, and trade with one another. The sight leaves me pensive and confused. Does the cosmos contain keys for opening up my diving bell? A subway line with no terminus? A currency strong enough to buy my freedom back? We must keep looking. I’ll be off now.

This is a fascinating way to end his story, innit? I find it quite mysterious actually... The only connection I can make is with the mystics, who, regardless of religious or spiritual tradition, have all claimed that it's entirely possible to dwell in what we ordinary folk call 'out of body' experience. They say once you refine the mind to a certain level you're able to transcend the physical plane altogether. If I interpret Jean-Do's word 'cosmos' accordingly, it could reflect a similar inkling on his part; that there's a Universal, or Cosmic Consciousness that lies very much beyond the limits of the physical body. With that kind of 'currency' (that kind of heightened awareness) a person could, indeed, 'buy' their freedom. Maybe Jean-Do was on the cusp of discovering such a thing? In any case, I like his advice: 'We must keep looking.'
Last edited by Parlez on Sat May 31, 2008 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby fansmom » Sat May 31, 2008 12:28 pm

Parlez wrote:This is a fascinating way to end his story, innit? I find it quite mysterious actually... The only connection I can make is with the mystics, who, regardless of religious or spiritual tradition, have all claimed that it's entirely possible to dwell in what we ordinary folk call 'out of body' experience. They say once you refine the mind to a certain level you're able to transcend the physical plane altogether. If I interpret Jean-Do's word 'cosmos' accordingly, it could reflect a similar inkling on his part; that there's a Universal, or Cosmic Consciousness that lies very much beyond the limits of the physical body. With that kind of 'currency' (that kind of heightened awareness) a person could, indeed, 'buy' their freedom. Maybe Jean-Do was on the cusp of discovering such a thing? In any case, I like his advice: 'We much keep looking.'
Oh, wow, Parlez, you suddenly made me flash to Star-Rover, by Jack London, (which I've just read was published in the UK as The Jacket). Written in 1915, it's the story of a convicted murderer who is kept in a straight-jacket, and his out-of-body experiences while imprisoned. It was one of my favorite books when I was in junior high school, although part of it seem rather lurid to me now.

I trod interstellar space, exalted by the knowledge that I was bound on vast adventure, where, at the end, I would find all the cosmic formulae and have made clear to me the ultimate secret of the universe.

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Unread postby Liz » Sat May 31, 2008 12:37 pm

Parlez wrote:
Liz wrote:I’ve been thinking about the butterfly for the past few days. I think that the diving bell represents his imprisonment inside his body, and the butterfly his freedom from it….the ability to get out--either to escape his condition or to be able to communicate. By writing this book he has communicated to the world, even though he is still physically imprisoned in his diving bell. So, as Fansmom says, he has shown his friends, acquaintances and beyond that Jean-Do did not become a vegetable…..that he was still there, trying to get out…..and he did. This, I think, was his initial goal in writing the book.

But the message within the pages of the book is about acceptance and hope. I think he was attempting to help not only us, but himself, learn to accept whatever life throws at us, and to make the most of what we have to work with…..no matter what our condition. And I also think it is a story of hope. The last lines of the book indicate to me that he hasn’t given up hope of his condition somehow improving….or maybe he is hoping that death or the after-life will free him. What do you think? These are the lines:

Her (Claude Mandibil) purse is half open, and I see a hotel room key, a metro ticket, and a hundred-franc note folded in four, like objects brought back by a space probe sent to earth to study how earthlings live, travel, and trade with one another. The sight leaves me pensive and confused. Does the cosmos contain keys for opening up my diving bell? A subway line with no terminus? A currency strong enough to buy my freedom back? We must keep looking. I’ll be off now.

This is a fascinating way to end his story, innit? I find it quite mysterious actually... The only connection I can make is with the mystics, who, regardless of religious or spiritual tradition, have all claimed that it's entirely possible to dwell in what we ordinary folk call 'out of body' experience. They say once you refine the mind to a certain level you're able to transcend the physical plane altogether. If I interpret Jean-Do's word 'cosmos' accordingly, it could reflect a similar inkling on his part; that there's a Universal, or Cosmic Consciousness that lies very much beyond the limits of the physical body. With that kind of 'currency' (that kind of heightened awareness) a person could, indeed, 'buy' their freedom. Maybe Jean-Do was on the cusp of discovering such a thing? In any case, I like his advice: 'We much keep looking.'

Yes, Parlez, it is fascinating. And I really liked the ending. And I find your interpretation of it quite interesting, too. :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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