Invisible Monsters

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Invisible Monsters (1999) by Chuck Palahniuk, An American satirical novelist and freelance journalist living in Portland, Oregon.

  • Shotgunning anybody in this room would be the moral equivalent of killing a car, a vacuum cleaner, a Barbie doll. Erasing a computer disk. Burning a book. Probably that goes for killing anyone in the world. We're all such products.
  • What's burning down is a re-creation of a period revival house patterned after a copy of a copy of a copy of a mock-tudor big manor house. It's a hundred generations removed from anything original, but the truth is aren't we all?
  • Another thing is no matter how much you think you love somebody, you'll step back when the pool of their blood edges up too close.
  • When it's time to reintroduce me to solid foods, their words again, it's pureed chicken and strained carrots. Baby foods. Everything mashed or pulverized or crushed. You are what you eat.
  • The murderer, the victim, the witness, each of us thinks our role is the lead.
  • Besides, it happens fast for some people and slow for some, accidents or gravity, but we all end up mutilated. (ch3p32)
  • This is the world we live in. Conditions change and we mutate.
  • Hysteria is impossible without an audience. Panicking by yourself is the same as laughing alone in an empty room. You feel really silly.
  • Evie says that beautiful people should never date each other. Together, they just don't generate enough attention. Evie says there's a whole shift in the beauty standard when they're together. You can feel this, Evie says. When both of you are beautiful, neither of you is beautiful. Together, as a couple, you're less than the sum of your parts.
  • Somewhere in heaven, you're live on a video web site for God to surf.
  • Game shows are designed to make us feel better about the random, useless facts that are all we have left of our education.
  • When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?
  • When we don't know who to hate, we hate ourselves.
  • You have to keep recycling yourself.
  • "She has to take a needle and thread and sew herself up" ".. The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open"
  • Rip yourself open. Sew yourself shut.
  • Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I've ever known.
  • The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person.
  • People just can't stand not knowing something, she says. Especially men can't stand not climbing every mountain, mapping everywhere. Labeling everything. Peeing on every tree and then never calling you back.
"Behind a veil, you're the great unknown," she says. "Most guys will fight to know you. Some guys will deny you're a real person, and some will just ignore you."
The zealot. The atheist. The agnostic.
  • Your folks are like God because you want to know they're out there and you want them to approve of your life, still you only call them when you're in crisis and need something.
  • Seth says how your being born makes your parents god. you owe them your life, and they can control you.
"Then puberty makes you Satan," he says, "just because you want something better."
  • "First," Manus says, "your parents, they give you your life, but then they try to give you their life."
  • "The whole time, growing up ," Evie says, "I just thought being a woman would be...not such a disappointment."
  • When you go out with a drunk, you'll notice how a drunk fills your glass so he can empty his own. As long as you're drinking, drinking is okay. Two's company. Drinking is fun. If there's a bottle, even if your glass isn't empty, he'll pour a little in your glass before he fills his own.
This only looks like generosity.
  • Almost all the time, you tell yourself you're loving somebody when you're just using them.
This only looks like love.
  • Sometimes the best way to deal with shit, she says, is to not hold yourself as such a precious little prize.
  • The nurse brings me the personal classified ads from a newsletter. Sister Katherine peers down her nose and through the glasses to read: Guys seeking slim, adventurous girls for fun and romance. And, yes, it's true, not one single guy specifically excludes hideous mutilated girls with growing medical bills.
  • The same way a compact disk isn't responsible for what's recorded on it, that's how we are. You're about as free to act as a programmed computer. You're about as one-of-a-kind as a dollar bill.
"There isn't any real you in you," she says. "Even your physical body, all your cells will be replaced within eight years."
  • "Whatever you're thinking, a million other folks are thinking. whatever you do, they're doing, and none of you is responsible. All of you is a cooperative effort."
  • "The world," Brandy says, "is your cradle and your trap."
  • "And if you can find any way out of our culture, then that's a trap too. Just wanting to get out of the trap reinforces the trap."
  • "The best way is not to fight it, just go. Don't be trying all the time to fix things. What you run from only stays with you longer. When you fight something, you only make it stronger."
  • Las Vegas looks the way you'd imagine heaven must look at night.
  • Evie starts telling me about an idea she has for a remake of Cinderella, only instead of the little birds and animals making her a dress, they do cosmetic surgery. Bluebirds give her a facelift. Squirrels give her implants. Snakes, liposuction. Plus, Cinderella starts out as a lonely little boy.
  • "[W]e're so trained to do life the right way. To not make mistakes" Brandy says, "I figure, the bigger the mistake looks, the better chance I'll have to break out and live a real life."
  • Our real discoveries come from chaos.
  • It's because we're so trapped in our culture, in the being of being human on this planet with the brains we have, and the

same two arms and two legs everybody has. We're so trapped that any way we could imagine to escape would be just another part of the trap. Anything we want, we're trained to want.

  • A sexual reassignment surgery is a miracle for some people, but if you don't want it, it's the ultimate form of self-mutilation.
  • Your birth is a mistake you'll spend your whole life trying to correct.
  • When you don't share your problems, you resent hearing the problems of other people.
  • All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.
  • Mostly what I hate about Evie is the fact that she's so vain and stupid and needy. But what I hate most is how she's just like me. What I really hate is me so I hate pretty much everybody.
  • Everybody here thinks the whole story is about them. Definitely that goes for everybody in the world.
  • That's what I love about fire, how it would kill me as quick as anybody else. How it can't know I'm its mother. It's so beautiful and powerful and beyond feeling anything for anybody, that's what I love about fire.
  • Go figure, but Texans seem to be a lot more comfortable around disastrous house fires than they are around anal sex.
  • The truth is, being ugly isn't the thrill you'd think, but it can be an opportunity for something better than I ever imagined.
  • The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.
  • No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all.
  • You can only hold a smile for so long, after that it's just teeth.
  • Nothing of you is all-the-way yours. All of you is inherited.
  • Do the things that scare you the most.
  • Make me into anything, but just love me.
  • What I wanted looked more and more like what I'd always been trained to want.
  • When I met you, I envied you. I coveted your face. I thought that face of yours will take more guts than any sex change operation. It will give you bigger discoveries. It will make you stronger than I could ever be.
  • Jump to present time with my folks sitting on lawn chairs at night, and watching these same super-8 movies projected on the white side of the same white house, twenty years later. The house the same, the yard the same, the windows projected in the movies lined up just perfect with the real windows, the movie grass aligned with the real grass, and my movie-projected brother and me being toddlers and running around wild for the camera.
  • Nobody's all the way dead yet, but lets just say the clock is ticking.
  • Sorry, mom. Sorry, God.
  • "Now," those Plumbago lips say, "You are going to tell me your story like you just did. Write it all down. Tell that story over and over. Tell me your sad-assed story all night." That Brandy queen points a long bony finger at me. "When you understand," Brandy says, "that what your telling is just a story. It isn't happening anymore. When you realize the story you're telling is just words, when you can just crumble it up and throw your past in the trashcan," Brandy says, "then we'll figure out who you're going to be."
  • Be famous. Be a big social experiment in getting what you don't want. Find value in what we've been taught is worthless. Find good in what the world says is evil. I'm giving you my life because I want to whole world to know you. I wish the whole world would embrace what it hates.
Find what you're afraid of most and go live there.
  • You know how you look at ugly hunchback girls, and they are so lucky. Nobody drags them out at night so they can't finish their doctorate thesis papers. They don't get yelled at by fashion photographers if they get infected ingrown bikini hairs. You look at burn victims and think how much time they save not looking in mirrors to check their skin for sun damage.
  • I wanted the everyday reassurance of being mutilated. The way a crippled deformed birth-defected disfigured girl can drive her car with the windows open and not care how the wind makes her hair look, that's the kind of freedom I was after.
  • This makeover would make piercings and tattoos and brandings look so lame, all those little fashion revolts so safe that they themselves only became fashionable. Those little paper tiger attempts to reject looking good that only end up reinforcing it.
  • Him yelling, Give me lust, baby.
Flash.
Give me malice.
Flash.
Give me detached existentialist ennui.
Flash.
Give me rampant intellectualism as a coping mechanism.
  • Haute couture and getting hauter.
  • It's all mirror, mirror on the wall because beauty is power the same way a gun is power.
  • Anymore, when I see the picture of a twenty-something in the newspaper who was abducted and sodomized and robbed and then killed and here's a front-page picture of her young and smiling, instead of me dwelling on this being a big, sad crime, my gut reaction is, wow, she'd be really hot if she didn't have such a big honker of a nose. My second reaction is I'd better have some good head and shoulder shots handy in case I get, you know, abducted and sodomized to death. My third reaction is, well, at least that cuts down the competition.
  • Give me empathy.
Then the flash of the strobe.
Give me sympathy.
Flash.
Give me brutal honesty.
Flash.
  • Give me attention.
Flash.
Give me adoration.
Flash.
Give me a break.
Flash.
  • Don't expect this to be the kind of story that goes: and then, and then, and then.

What happens here will have more of that fashion magazine feel, a Vogue or Glamour

magazine chaos with page numbers on every second or fifth or third page. Perfume cards

falling out, and full-page naked women coming out of nowhere to sell you make-up. Don't look for a contents page, buried magazine-style twenty pages back from the front.

Don't expect to find anything right off. There isn't a real pattern to anything, either. Stories

will start and then, three paragraphs later: Jump to page whatever. Then, jump back.

  • Just remember, the same spectacular Vogue magazine, remember that no matter how close

you follow the page jumps: Continued on page whatever. No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day.

  • The fashion photographer inside my head, yells:
Give me pity.
Flash.
Give me another chance.
Flash.
  • Vogue on location.
The fashion photographer inside my head, yelling:
Give me wonder, baby.
Flash.
Give me amazement.
Flash.
  • Going outside, the world is all color after the white-on-white of the hospital. It's going over the rainbow. I walk up to a supermarket, and shopping feels like a game I haven't played since I was a little girl. Here are all my favorite name-brand products, all those colors, French's Mustard, Rice A Ronni, Top Ramen, everything trying to catch your attention.

All that color. A whole shift in the beauty standard so that no one thing really stands out. The total being less than the sum of its parts. All that color all in one place. Except for that name-brand product rainbow, there's nothing else to look at. When I look at people, all I can see is the back of everybody's head. Even if I turn super fast, all I can catch is somebody's ear turning away. And folks are talking to God.

  • "When you understand," Brandy says, "that what you're telling is just a story. It isn't happening anymore. When you realize the story you're telling is just words, when you can just crumble it up and throw your past in the trashcan," Brandy says, "then we'll figure out who you're going to be."
  • Give me tolerance.
Flash.
Give me understanding.
Flash.
  • And the crowd of shoppers is bailed, leaving just us and the security cameras instead of God watching to catch us when we fuck up.
  • "Birds ate my face."
  • Jump to the week after Manus's last visit, last meaning final, when Evie drops by the hospital. Evie looks at the glossies and talks to God and Jesus Christ.
  • Save the world with some advice from the future.
  • "I'm an invisible monster, and I'm incapable of loving anybody. You don't know which is worse."
  • "The nun's arrived with the man ad his I.V. stand, a new man with no skin or crushed features or all his teeth bashed out, a man who'd be perfect for me. My one true love. My deformed or mutilated or diseased prince charming. My unhappily ever after. My hideous future. The monstrous rest of my life."
  • She'd wear shades of lipstick you'd expect to see around of the base of a penis.
  • Don't you think that somehow television makes us God?
  • Ancient aboriginal petroglyphs and junk are just whizzing past
  • All around us, erosion and insects are just chewing up the world, never mind people and pollution. Everything biodegrades with or without you pushing.
  • The wild daisies and Indian paintbrush are just the genitals of a different life form.
  • The future is just wasted on some people.
  • Only when we eat up this planet will God give us another.
  • We'll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create.
  • How is it you can keep mutating and still be the same deadly virus?
  • It's not living alone if you keep a rifle under your bed.
  • If I can't be beautiful, I want to be invisible.
  • You're safe because you're trapped inside your culture.
  • Don't do what you want. Do what you don't want. Do what you're trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most.
  • It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't love.
  • A Million fucking fashion makeovers that only leave me trapped being me.
  • What I need to do is fuck up so bad I can't save myself.
  • People all over the world telling their one dramatic story and how their life has turned into getting over this one event. Now their lives are more about the past than their future.
  • The truth is I was addicted to being beautiful, and that's not something you just walk away from. Being addicted to all that attention, I had to quit cold turkey.
  • I wanted to give up the idea I had any control. Shake things up. To be saved by chaos. To see if I could cope, I wanted to force myself to grow again. To explode my comfort zone.
  • You see, I can handle the baby food and the not talking and being homeless and invisible, but I have to know that I can love somebody. Completely and totally, permanently and without hope of reward, just as an act of will, I will love somebody.

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