TDB&TB Question #3 ~ A Strange Euphoria

by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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TDB&TB Question #3 ~ A Strange Euphoria

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed May 07, 2008 7:53 am

Pg. 25 Bauby sees himself for the first time in a mirror.

“Whereupon a strange euphoria came over me. Not only was I exiled, paralyzed, mute, half deaf, deprived of all pleasures, and reduced to the existence of a jelly fish, but I was also horrible to behold. There comes a time when the heaping up of calamites brings on uncontrollable nervous laughter—when, after a final blow from fate, we decide to treat it all as a joke. My jovial cackling at first disconcerted Eugenie (DITHOT note: the bust of Empress Eugenie on display in the corridor) , until she herself was infected by my mirth. We laughed until we cried.”

What do you think of Jean-Do's reaction?
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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Unread postby Betty Sue » Wed May 07, 2008 9:48 am

Don't know what the physiological cause is, but I've sure been there, done that and it sure feels good!! :baby: When you're tense, frustrated, out of ideas and everything has gone wrong that can go wrong, there's nothing left to do!! It's a bit of a catharsis that lets you go on. One time I remember is that, after a lot of work, expense, frustration, and at the point of running out of time, we ended up with a stack of Christmas letters/photos that would smear all over at a touch. Though this meant more serious work ahead of us, the thought of people receiving this mess just sent my DH and me into hysterical giggles. I remember our son was impressed that we took it so well... :-O
Maybe there's a relief in reaching rock bottom; you can only go up from there. :cool:
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Unread postby Liz » Wed May 07, 2008 11:30 am

I know exactly what you mean about the feeling of catharsis, Betty Sue. And laughing always feels good. When a string of mishaps or bad luck occurs, it’s just so outrageous, you have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
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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Unread postby Parlez » Wed May 07, 2008 12:42 pm

I agree ~ what can you do when there's nothing you can do? I believe this is where we see Jean-Do's inner character emerge, whereby he's able to appreciate the absurdity of the situation and laugh. I wonder if the feeling of euphoria might be a sense of release from everything that held him together before...sort of a 'game over' kind of sensation? In any case, I think it is a moment in which Jean-Do makes the first of many choices, attitude-wise, that are life-supporting.
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa
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Unread postby Inthezone » Wed May 07, 2008 12:44 pm

Liz wrote:... it’s just so outrageous, you have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.


I think you have it. Jean-Do has no other choice than to laugh at his own "absurd" reflection.
I doubt I would have the strength of character to react the same way - vanity would win for sure.

DITHOT: I've been fighting myself to just type "just see yesterday's answer" all morning. :omg:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed May 07, 2008 2:05 pm

Laughter is definitely a stress release and he certainly had his share and more. I think if you can't laugh at yourself now and again you are in for a world of troubles.

Inthezone, that would work!
: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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Unread postby teacher » Wed May 07, 2008 2:13 pm

It is, I think, a reaction to everything that overwhelmes us, good or bad. I had those fits after DD was born, in hospital: I was happy, to be sure, but there was the pain and the stiff back and the sheer discomfort and the panic and the ""I want my mommy" and all and I would cry and laugh at times all alone. (Which is normal, right? Right? :eyebrow: )
This particular situation of Jean-do's is probably being overwhelmed as well, though in an infinitely different way. As you ladies put it: What should he do when he can't do anything? Though, what I admire the most about this bit, but the book in general too, is that he's able to talk about it. I'd never told anyone of my hysterical outbursts, yet he manages to do so in such grave circumstances.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. - Tom Wingfield, Glass Menagerie

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Unread postby Liz » Wed May 07, 2008 2:39 pm

teacher wrote: Though, what I admire the most about this bit, but the book in general too, is that he's able to talk about it. I'd never told anyone of my hysterical outbursts, yet he manages to do so in such grave circumstances.


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

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Unread postby Parlez » Wed May 07, 2008 2:47 pm

I think it's interesting too that Jean-Do shared the 'joke' with Eugenie's portrait. Was this the only 'person' around with whom he felt safe enough to share a laugh? What did her image represent to him? Acceptance? Tolerance? Friendship? Understanding?

Johnny's photographs convey those things to me. :heart2:
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby fansmom » Wed May 07, 2008 2:49 pm

Parlez wrote:I think it's interesting too that Jean-Do shared the 'joke' with Eugenie's portrait. Was this the only 'person' around with whom he felt safe enough to share a laugh? What did her image represent to him? Acceptance? Tolerance? Friendship? Understanding?
She was the only one around who could move less than he could?

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Unread postby Endora » Wed May 07, 2008 2:51 pm

So why did he laugh, not cry? What was it about him that made him laugh inside, not weep? From the book, I didn't get the impression that he was a particularly positive type before. Taking a controversial point of view, perhaps he did cry inside, and is telling us he laughed? Interesting that we never consider that he may have lied in anything he tells us. Maybe he did, but we are so trained to think of people who have endured great misfortune as saints, we don't contemplate it.

I don't mean to be offensive towards him, it's just a bit of lateral thinking.
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Unread postby gemini » Wed May 07, 2008 3:00 pm

This is the part of the book that makes me the most sad. I agree with everything said about laughing at the absurdity of the situation is a release. I think of all the horrible things he must have faced, the looks and pity of others, the friends who never came to visit, the horror of not ever moving, but having to face yourself as to what you have become has to be the worst.

I am not quite sure how to describe this so you know what I mean but we all have this inner ID or vision (or non vision) of the self we know. It's the one we use when we talk to ourselves (usually not openly) but we do rationalize things with ourselves. I guess its really thinking or pondering on something but I think of it as communicating with myself. (Hope you are not ready to cart me off to the loony bin).

Anyhow, this is the part that Jean Do had left. The part of him that always belonged to himself. Strangely this part always sees itself as young even when your old, its the self you learned to know ages ago but is still you today with all your thoughts and memories. I think when he sees himself, he was not only comparing himself to the healthy person he lost but to his inner self and then the absurdity of the situation sunk in. His inner self or personality, ID, whatever, was all he had left and it was still intact. The butterfly.
The point of the book yes, but still so sad.
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Unread postby Parlez » Wed May 07, 2008 3:04 pm

fansmom wrote:
Parlez wrote:I think it's interesting too that Jean-Do shared the 'joke' with Eugenie's portrait. Was this the only 'person' around with whom he felt safe enough to share a laugh? What did her image represent to him? Acceptance? Tolerance? Friendship? Understanding?
She was the only one around who could move less than he could?

:rotflmao: That is so true!! The way people race around hospital corridors like they're in such a bloomin' hurry (as if that's their excuse for rushing past the invalides and not stopping to say hello) makes it pretty attractive to finally find a stationary image! Plus, everybody loves a rapt, unmoving audience, right?!
"Belay that! ...Do something else!" ~ Hector Barbossa

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Unread postby shadowydog » Wed May 07, 2008 3:52 pm

I think sometimes the old adage "laughter is the best medicine" is true.....Sometimes it is the ONLY medicine.

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Unread postby Liz » Wed May 07, 2008 6:23 pm

gemini wrote:
Anyhow, this is the part that Jean Do had left. The part of him that always belonged to himself. Strangely this part always sees itself as young even when your old, its the self you learned to know ages ago but is still you today with all your thoughts and memories. I think when he sees himself, he was not only comparing himself to the healthy person he lost but to his inner self and then the absurdity of the situation sunk in.

Gemini, I know about that inner voice. We use it to comfort, support, and give courage to ourselves. It also keeps us from being lonely. I think Jean-Do must have relied heavily on that voice upon awakening to his predicament in the hospital. Yes, that voice may rationalize and lie to us. And I suppose, Endora, he could have lied to us, too. But I feel instinctively that if he did, it was not intentional. I think I feel that way because once one is in as vulnerable a position as Jean-Do, what’s the point in lying? I also try to put myself in his shoes, and I think I would try to compensate for my inability to verbally communicate by being as open as I could, once I learned an alternate way of communicating. I think I would be starved for communication.

gemini wrote:His inner self or personality, ID, whatever, was all he had left and it was still intact. The butterfly.
The point of the book yes, but still so sad.

Gemini, hold onto that thought. We will be discussing both of these topics later on in the discussion.


This was Chocolat’s inspiration post this morning. It made me think of Jean-Do, but it is probably more relevant to yesterday’s question:


"When there is no enemy within,
the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”


~ African Proverb
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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