The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

by Hunter S. Thompson

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:44 am

pg. 167 (end of Chapter 16)

"When we got back to the office I thought about what he'd said, and I began to think that Sala might be right. He talked about luck and fate and numbers coming up, yet he never ventured a nickel at the casinos because he knew the house had all the percentages. And beneath his pessimism, his bleak conviction that all the machinery was rigged against him, at the bottom of his soul was a faith that he was going to outwit it, that by carefully watching the signs he was going to know when to dodge and be spared. It was fatalism with a loophole, and all you had to do to make it work was never miss a sign. Survival by coordination, as it were. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who can see it coming and jump aside. Like a frog evading a shillelagh in a midnight marsh."

What do you think of Sala's outlook on life?
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 -
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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby ForestByTheSea » Tue Apr 27, 2010 10:47 am

It's a difficult question, and I'm hesitating to make the first post :blush: , but let me have a try.

I think more or less all people have their own "beliefs", not in the religion sense, but about the way how everyday life operates. Such beliefs may first appear with repetitive observations of patterns, then emerge into "theories", like that of Sala's. They have conditions, causes, effects, and a fine boundary. However, there might be a common bias that even in a pessimistic mindset of beliefs, the holder himself/herself could be exempted from bad things.

Also, does it show our willingness and power to control over our lives?
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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:13 am

I know a few people with this belief. Their lives are lived looking around waiting for "the next shoe to drop". Kemp showed a bit of pessimism also - thinking he always dodging the shillelagh. But Kemp seemed to be his own worst ememy. Maybe Sala too????

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:47 pm

Thanks for getting us started ForestByTheSea and welcome to the discussion! :cool:

ForestByTheSea, I do think we as humans have the need for explanations and control in regard to our lives and what happens to us. We want to know the whys so we can control the what ifs, even though in all likelihood we will never be able to accomplish that.

I think a pessimist is always waiting for the next bad thing and when you focus on those bad things long enough it becomes a pattern and all you see are shillelaghs. ladylinn, I think you are right that they are their own worst enemy. Sala's theory means he is constantly looking over his shoulder and expecting the worst to happen. Of course he manages to put himself in quite a few positions where the outcome is pretty much expected to be a bad one! :lol:
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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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby deppaura » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:34 pm

I don't know why this seems to me to be particularly true for the male experience in life. Reminds me of myths and their teachings. Is it like watching out for the dragon? Like making an observation and maybe conclusion about the game of life and how to play it. Watching out for the tricks and pitfalls. Is life harder and the expectations trickier for men? I do agree that your personal outlook and belief can perhaps alter your experience. But, I think is can be quite "gamey". Basic survival perhaps.

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:09 pm

I agree that it’s a game for some men, deppaura. To a very important person in my life, that’s what life is, and that is what keeps him going--Super Mario against Bowser.

But for Sala, I was thinking it was about staying out of harm's way…..knowing the signs and stepping aside in time. I don’t see it as being pessimistic. I see it as being smart—or getting away with as much as you can without repercussions. On the other hand, Sala is a worry wart. And even though a worry wart, he is right-on about his prediction about going to Carnival.
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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:14 am

Liz, I am glad to hear your "take" on Sala's attitude. Rushing headlong into things without assessing risks or being on the lookout for trouble is foolish. On the other hand, he worried a lot about things he took no action on except to grumble, and that just kept stirring the pot for him. I have been around "glass half empty" kind of people and at times they can really drag a person down! :-/

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby gemini » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:15 pm

My impression of Sala was that he had a negative opinion of everything around him. He spent all his time complaining and worrying. I think he had an inferiority complex. In order to think himself capable he made everything and everyone around him inferior, hence the world is a trap but I won't be caught in it.
To his credit, his friends were tempting fate so his worrying wasn't so out of place.
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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:38 pm

Being negative and worrying was an out for him, the world was against him so why try?
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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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby deppaura » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:41 pm

I read a reviewer's comment regarding Sala. "Sala sees himself at War with everybody else. Somehow Kemp seemed "comfortable" with him. Was he a "lovable" character in spite of it all? Somehow the honest guy?

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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:50 pm

Just FYI, Noodlemantras, we do not have a specific question on Sala so if you would like to dicuss his character in more detail, please do! :zoner:

Interesting point, deppaura. The honest guy or the guy who was so down on himself he made everyone else feel better about themselves?
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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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby Liz » Wed Apr 28, 2010 9:54 pm

deppaura wrote:I read a reviewer's comment regarding Sala. "Sala sees himself at War with everybody else. Somehow Kemp seemed "comfortable" with him. Was he a "lovable" character in spite of it all? Somehow the honest guy?

Deppaura, was this review of the book or the upcoming film? I'm wondering if they will be slightly different.
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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Re: The Rum Diary Question #9 ~ The Frog and the Shillelagh

Unread postby deppaura » Mon May 03, 2010 4:53 pm

Sorry, Liz, for the late response. It was a book review.


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