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 Post subject: Happy Days Question #12 – Pretense or Vital Honesty?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:48 am 
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Pg. 63. “Throughout the entire meal Bébel ogles the wine bottle without daring to serve himself, while Mireille cuts up everything on her plate without eating even one morsel. I have been mistaken: Right up until the end, people will pretend, keeping up appearances and trying to hide behind them. Although the masks may crack at the approach of death, they never really fall. There will never be complete sincerity. People will always fight back, using whatever wiliness and lies life offers them. Until their last breaths, they’ll try to set an absurd dignity against the approaching truth, which they’ll refuse to believe and give in to, preferring to die clinging to a respectable pretense of life.” Comment on this pretense to the end.

Is he contradicting himself on page 43? “What I like about these old folks is their focus on essential things and their fundamental, vital honesty. As if the proximity of death made all lies useless and required absolute sincerity, without any tricks or fakery.” What say you?



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:27 pm 
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Oh, bugger ~ here comes another headache!!
No, really, this is an intriguing paradox, IMO. How DO we live when we're so close to death? A person entering a facility like Happy Days knows, on some level, that their time is about up...

The facility itself sets up a standard of behavior that's pretty pretentious for starters, filled with enthusiasm and activity and cheeriness. That's their major marketing tool ~ we have FUN here! If a new resident wants to fit in (and they usually do) they sort of have to comply with 'the rules', and the #1 rule is you can't be sad, ever. Some (unpleasant but honest) emotions are not allowed, which I've personally been told is because expressing those feelings upsets the staff. Hello?!

Plus, I think our elder population is from a generation that knows how to wear masks in a way that they'd call coping. They've endured a lot in their history - world wars, economic turmoil, and worse - and they've adapted a strategy for dealing with life that, in some ways, is founded on the notion of 'keeping up appearances'. (The Boomers, by contrast, are not interested in any of that ~ we fancy ourselves to be much to 'honest' for that nonsense! But that's another story...when we get to the Zoner Nursing Home!) :mort1:

Antoine thinks he'll find essential truth/s at Happy Days, among the residents who, he assumes, have boiled life down to fundamentals. Later, in the dining room (the venue for pretense, anywhere!) he expresses the opposite opinion. A combination of the two is probably the most accurate ~ afterall, we can't live with brutal reality all the time, can we? And there's part of our human nature that likes the masquerade. But do the residents take the pretense seriously, or no? How much do they buy into their false surroundings and the false expectations, for the sake of appearances?

Hmmm???



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 2:00 pm 
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Parlez wrote:
Oh, bugger ~ here comes another headache!!


Oh :censored: , I click on the thread, using the latest entry paper icon on the right, which was Parlez, and see this written! :bawl: Do I really want to do this again today? I am afraid to scroll up to read the question.
ONBC, you're certainly giving me a good run for my money, as they say!
I think I'll go get a Cup of Jack first. :morning:



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 2:16 pm 
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Depputante wrote:
Parlez wrote:
Oh, bugger ~ here comes another headache!!


Oh :censored: , I click on the thread, using the latest entry paper icon on the right, which was Parlez, and see this written! :bawl: Do I really want to do this again today? I am afraid to scroll up to read the question.
ONBC, you're certainly giving me a good run for my money, as they say!
I think I'll go get a Cup of Jack first. :morning:


Image

Off to play an elf for a bit. I'll check back later to see if the headaches have gone.



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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Question #12 – Pretense or Vital Honesty?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 2:25 pm 
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I'm not going to peek at what Parlez wrote until I write my own answer ! :fear:
Too cute, Liz, Jack begging for mercy, is he? Or is he playing elf? "All good." "Bloody :capnjack: "
I'm really glad you picked this p.63 quote, Liz. I saw it a couple days ago and wondered if it would show up here.

Liz wrote:
Pg. 63. “Throughout the entire meal Bébel ogles the wine bottle without daring to serve himself, while Mireille cuts up everything on her plate without eating even one morsel. I have been mistaken: Right up until the end, people will pretend, keeping up appearances and trying to hide behind them. Although the masks may crack at the approach of death, they never really fall. There will never be complete sincerity. People will always fight back, using whatever wiliness and lies life offers them. Until their last breaths, they’ll try to set an absurd dignity against the approaching truth, which they’ll refuse to believe and give in to, preferring to die clinging to a respectable pretense of life.” Comment on this pretense to the end.


First, he realizes he's made a mistake. Now he sees people clinging to life, fighting against the approaching truth. People prefer the respectable pretense of life. At first he thought people would be 'honest' and by entering Happy Days, he would find out if life was really worth it or not. And how death would be, to find out the facts of life. So now he sees that even at death's door people are still finding the 'importance' of life. (Okay, he's daft, and most of us already figured that one out in our teens, eh?)

Quote:
Is he contradicting himself on page 43? “What I like about these old folks is their focus on essential things and their fundamental, vital honesty. As if the proximity of death made all lies useless and required absolute sincerity, without any tricks or fakery.” What say you?


He's made a huge transition between p.43 - 63, as seen in our last (?) question, the one about him and Mirielle. This is what he thought, at first, that people were somehow 'different' and honest in Happy Days. What he finds out is that they are just like anyone else.

So to answer the question, No, I don't think he's contradicting himself, he's just learned alot, and is being very honest, and that's why I like Antoine, for his honesty. But, I don't understand the word: pretense. This book is so subtle, I never would have noticed this difference unless they were both quoted side by side. :cool: Good Sleuthing, Liz-baba.

Today I am wondering :fear: if the Seven Deadly? Sins are in this book as well. We have drinking to excessiveness (gluttony?) , the sex scene, the wasting of food, the suicide .... He may have picked each of Antoine's friends on purpose. The only reason why I thought of this is because Brad Pitt's movie and then Wonka's had them too. I'm sure many other movies also incorporate this theme into them. Is this another one? This could be how Johnny intends to turn this into a movie length film.



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 3:38 pm 
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I don't think he contradicts himself, I think he is talking about two different subjects. The second quote about honesty reminds me of the cartoon character Maxine, whom I love!! She tells is like it is, usually with sarcasm, and she really doesn't care much what anyone thinks about it, she is going to say it anyway. I find as I age I am much more likely to blurt out some sort of truth or opinion that I would have kept hidden when I was younger. I hope I become more and more comfortable doing that as time goes on, sometimes now I still have a panic attack after I tell people what I really think. At times I am as subtle as a sledge hammer.

As to the behavior in the dining room, I think that is more about fitting in and not being embarassed by weaknesses in front of the peer group. I think it is part of the human condition to want to belong, and some of this behavior may just be exercising good old fashioned good manners and social graces, being pleasant, getting along. It doesn't seem so much like dishonesty or pretense to me as being polite. Even though being in a rest home is the last step on the way out of this life, the residents aren't ready yet to just sit and give up all signs of life in front of friends, so a little pretending is necessary.

Maybe I need to go back and read the quotes again. :-/


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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Question #12 – Pretense or Vital Honesty?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 4:28 pm 
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Liz wrote:
Pg. 63. “Throughout the entire meal Bébel ogles the wine bottle without daring to serve himself, while Mireille cuts up everything on her plate without eating even one morsel. I have been mistaken: Right up until the end, people will pretend, keeping up appearances and trying to hide behind them. Although the masks may crack at the approach of death, they never really fall. There will never be complete sincerity. People will always fight back, using whatever wiliness and lies life offers them. Until their last breaths, they’ll try to set an absurd dignity against the approaching truth, which they’ll refuse to believe and give in to, preferring to die clinging to a respectable pretense of life.” Comment on this pretense to the end.

Is he contradicting himself on page 43? “What I like about these old folks is their focus on essential things and their fundamental, vital honesty. As if the proximity of death made all lies useless and required absolute sincerity, without any tricks or fakery.” What say you?


I have been lately trying to write my answer before reading everyone else's response too. Sometimes its difficult and I get roped in, and take a quick peek when I read the question to see which way the wind is blowing. Then after I post I go back and read the other responses more thoroughly and comment.

I'll answer both at the same time.
I think a lot of the keeping up appearances is part of their generation's upbringing.
The depression oriented crowd learned to make do with what they had and not complain. That ties in with keeping up appearances. In every generation they have their "one in every crowd that, prides themselves on telling it how it is", but as a whole that generation seems to pride themselves on being able to cope. I don't think they face death any differently.

As for Antionne contradicting himself, I don't see it. That absurd dignity in the first description is very similar to the vital honesty and absolute sincerity in the second description. To their generation following traditions and mannerisms is not a trick or fakery. I think that not taking a drink by Bebel or Mirielle making an attempt at a normal meal when she can't is not dishonest but polite, not in fooling the others but in not drawing unnecessary attention to themselves.
So here, I let Antionne off the hook because both of his observations were accurate.



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 5:27 pm 
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I agree that he is not really contradicting himself and that the people in the dining room were just being polite. To me Antoine seemed very cynical and a bit nasty when he attributed their actions to an "absurd dignity."
And I agree with Antoine that the older one gets the more comfortable one is with being honest and sincere. (I should know!) I've also found older people to be absolutely hilarious as they shed those unnecessary old inhibitions! :yahoo:



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 7:59 pm 
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Quote:
Until their last breaths, they’ll try to set an absurd dignity against the approaching truth, which they’ll refuse to believe and give in to, preferring to die clinging to a respectable pretense of life.” Comment on this pretense to the end.

Is he contradicting himself on page 43? “What I like about these old folks is their focus on essential things and their fundamental, vital honesty. As if the proximity of death made all lies useless and required absolute sincerity, without any tricks or fakery.” What say you?


I think the only people we are toally ourselves around are the ones we love the most. When we are with our co workers or strangers we do have masks that we put on. I dont think that it is a bad thing. we all have a image of what we want to be. The only way to be it is to practice it. For example: a person who doesnt swear but then in private does swear. As long as we dont judge anyone else then I dont think it matters. I am not saying its ok to pretend to be what your not such as saying Im a doctor & I definately am not.

He may be contridicting himself a little there but I think his point is that when you have done almost all you will do in life & all you have left is to give what knowledge you have gained you peel off the outer layer of everything & reveal it for what it is. You know whats important in life and theres no more time for any BS. Time is to precious.



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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Question #12 – Pretense or Vital Honesty?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 9:44 pm 
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Sorry, Noodlemantras, that it has taken me so long to get back to the discussion today. My Christmas shopping took longer than I expected. And I'm not even half way towards completing my shopping. :banghead: And DITHOT has been out of touch here because she is out of town at a family gathering.

Depputante wrote:
I'm not going to peek at what Parlez wrote until I write my own answer ! :fear:
Too cute, Liz, Jack begging for mercy, is he? Or is he playing elf? "All good." "Bloody :capnjack: "
I'm really glad you picked this p.63 quote, Liz. I saw it a couple days ago and wondered if it would show up here.



Depputante, that pic is one of my favorites that I use when I’m being mischievous or annoying.

Depputante wrote:
But, I don't understand the word: pretense. This book is so subtle, I never would have noticed this difference unless they were both quoted side by side. :cool: Good Sleuthing, Liz-baba.

Today I am wondering :fear: if the Seven Deadly? Sins are in this book as well. We have drinking to excessiveness (gluttony?) , the sex scene, the wasting of food, the suicide .... He may have picked each of Antoine's friends on purpose. The only reason why I thought of this is because Brad Pitt's movie and then Wonka's had them too. I'm sure many other movies also incorporate this theme into them. Is this another one? This could be how Johnny intends to turn this into a movie length film.


We have to remember that this book has been translated. I’m hoping that he agrees with the translation or something like a subtlety could be lost in translation, as it were.

And interesting catch there about the 7 deadly sins. I hadn't thought of that.


Nebraska wrote:
I don't think he contradicts himself, I think he is talking about two different subjects. The second quote about honesty reminds me of the cartoon character Maxine, whom I love!! She tells is like it is, usually with sarcasm, and she really doesn't care much what anyone thinks about it, she is going to say it anyway. I find as I age I am much more likely to blurt out some sort of truth or opinion that I would have kept hidden when I was younger. I hope I become more and more comfortable doing that as time goes on, sometimes now I still have a panic attack after I tell people what I really think. At times I am as subtle as a sledge hammer.

As to the behavior in the dining room, I think that is more about fitting in and not being embarassed by weaknesses in front of the peer group. I think it is part of the human condition to want to belong, and some of this behavior may just be exercising good old fashioned good manners and social graces, being pleasant, getting along. It doesn't seem so much like dishonesty or pretense to me as being polite. Even though being in a rest home is the last step on the way out of this life, the residents aren't ready yet to just sit and give up all signs of life in front of friends, so a little pretending is necessary.


Nebraska, I agree that it could be all sarcasm there. But now that I’m thinking about it, from my own recent observations, some of the elderly are very keen on recognizing that they are old, losing their memories, etc. etc.—shedding those inhibitions, as Betty Sue has said. My dad used to be embarrassed by such things; but now he and his friends laugh about it. And I think that might fit into the implication of the quote on page 43. On the other hand, I see many of them taking pride in their appearance, decorum, etc., as onpage 63. And I think this makes them feel better about themselves—that they still have something to be proud of. That fits in with what Gemini has said.



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:52 pm 
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Well, that was easy-er!
My headache never materialized, I'm happy to report!
I loved everyone's thoughts on this too, and it appears we have an accord about this generation of elders, and about decorum vs vital honesty. When my Dad was moved from his home to independent living to assisted living to a nursing home, he was okay with giving up more and more of his possessions each time.
In the end, the only things he cared enough about to hang onto were his neckties (as if!) and his Stetson hats, of all things! Those were what gave him a sense of identity clear to the end. It's touching, really, to see our elders grasp and cling to what they regard as their dignity and to see what lengths they'll go to to remain 'connected' to that.
:chill:



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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Question #12 – Pretense or Vital Honesty?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 12:38 am 
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Liz wrote:
Pg. 63. “Throughout the entire meal Bébel ogles the wine bottle without daring to serve himself, while Mireille cuts up everything on her plate without eating even one morsel. I have been mistaken: Right up until the end, people will pretend, keeping up appearances and trying to hide behind them. Although the masks may crack at the approach of death, they never really fall. There will never be complete sincerity. People will always fight back, using whatever wiliness and lies life offers them. Until their last breaths, they’ll try to set an absurd dignity against the approaching truth, which they’ll refuse to believe and give in to, preferring to die clinging to a respectable pretense of life.” Comment on this pretense to the end.

Is he contradicting himself on page 43? “What I like about these old folks is their focus on essential things and their fundamental, vital honesty. As if the proximity of death made all lies useless and required absolute sincerity, without any tricks or fakery.” What say you?



1. Some do, some don't. Just visit a nursing home.
2.He could have said" what I like about some of these old folks . . " for like I said above, some are, some aren't. so. yes, a contradiction.

Lady Jill


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 Post subject: Re: Happy Days Question #12 – Pretense or Vital Honesty?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 3:00 am 
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Depputante wrote:
Today I am wondering :fear: if the Seven Deadly? Sins are in this book as well. We have drinking to excessiveness (gluttony?) , the sex scene, the wasting of food, the suicide .... He may have picked each of Antoine's friends on purpose. The only reason why I thought of this is because Brad Pitt's movie and then Wonka's had them too. I'm sure many other movies also incorporate this theme into them. Is this another one? This could be how Johnny intends to turn this into a movie length film.


Ok here goes... :eyebrow:
1) Lust - The nurse (the sex scene)
2) Gluttony - Mirielle (cutting but not eating her food)
3) Greed - The Billion (rich woman)
4) Laziness - Al (always at the bench at start)
5) Wrath - Antoine? (angry at Mirielle)
6) Envy - Bebel (jealous of Mirielle)
7) Pride - Francis (car owner)

If each of these charachters get developed a bit more, it would be easy to make into a movie, me thinks. Good Night, mates! :kiss:



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 5:54 am 
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When I look at the p43 quote in context, the comment he makes is in response to the elders' behaviour towards Le Grond. They are impatient with him and intolerant of him him wasting their time. Which is fair enough, when they have so little time left to waste, relatively. The comment also is referring to Le Grond's insincerity and patronising ways, which he inflicts on them. The p63 quote seems to be in response to social conventions. Antoine is possibly reading too much into Mireille's behaviour, toying with the food rather than eating it. Why shouldn't Bebel try to maintain the facade? These people are thrown together by chance, in the sense that they chose to live at Happy Days, rather than choosing to live with each other. Social conventions are what make the communal spaces easier to share. On p2, we are told "The entire establishment gives the impression of wholesome tranquility and efifciency." (my italics). The elders follow suit, except when it becomes too much for them, following the code.
In a way, it reminds me of when I had skin cancer. I told my loved ones, but not my acquaintances. Not my work colleagues, even though I had to have time off for the operation and tests. To me, it was a very personal and private thing, the prospect of facing death. That was a surprise, because I thought I'd be the type to announce it to everyone. But there are times when you just don't want to let it all hang out in front of just anyone who happens to be there.
The phrase "absurd dignity" is interesting. I don't see dignity absurd in this context. But Antoine seems intent on exposing that, in demolishing their dignity when he can, at times. it isn't an issue for him on p43; it is on p63. But their motives are different. So I don't see a contradiction between their behaviour on p 43 and 62. I doubt if they would have rebelled so openly with Le Grond if Antoine hadn't led them, anyway.



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 2:53 pm 
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suec wrote:
These people are thrown together by chance, in the sense that they chose to live at Happy Days, rather than choosing to live with each other. Social conventions are what make the communal spaces easier to share.


This is an insightful comment on human sociology. It's not something I normally think about, but it makes perfect sense--especially when it pertains to the residents at Happy Days. And I can see that going on at my dad's residence. In fact, I can see myself responding in that fashion when the time comes--to a degree.



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