Comments on “How disgusting should I be?”


just right for me

She-zer's picture

I thought you got a good balance in the disgusting ratio - I don't like horror or things that are too squishy - but mainly I felt sad about Sukhi's death, what a horrid way to die. What guilt our hero must have felt all his life but what a real reaction for a boy to have. If that's the horror level for the whole book then it'll suit me just fine. Still loving the story!

Spot on

Josh's picture

This chapter was definitely gripping, and the description of her eyes was particularly queasy and hope-crushing (when I read that a character has been horribly mutilated, maybe especially an attractive character, I think a part of me expects - and hopes - that they are going to be killed off to spare me and them the horror of their disfigured existence; but of course people survive 'disgusting' bodily traumas all the time, and continue to be attractive to other people). It was also sexually charged, which as you predict leaves me with a feeling of having participated in something 'unclean', and questioning my motives. So that seems pretty close to the effect you were aiming for.

As for how other people would react to it, I think my first impulse is to assume that other people are more easily disgusted than I am, but really I've got no reason to think I'm not in the middle of the bell curve. Certainly, I don't typically seek out the horror genre, and only ended up here via Meaningness (linked from Brad Warner's site).

Good job.

Could be a tantric subversion of horror

Gensho's picture

Over-the-top gore can have a surprisingly soothing effect, as it leads to a sense of unreality regarding our bodies and their vulnerabilities. The straightforward depiction of disease in this chapter has a much more unsettling effect. The emotional horror of Surya's abandonment meshes with the disgust of the scene.

Right tone but mind the details

Hi David

Well, mainly I felt sad for Sukhi’s death. I have to say that I don’t like the horror genre: I find it a non-innocent-at-all display of brutality and violence which it’s aimed at (besides money) a concrete purpose in our society, very much the same the roman circus had. There are exceptions though (rare nowadays) and I think this story is clearly one of them.

As for the episode, I think it’s very well written (maybe that the horror in it comes from a plague rather than other humans/monsters makes it more acceptable to me). The tone it’s mostly right for me but I think it could be turned up a little, with more detailed descriptions and a slower pace, the plague episode just happens too quickly for me. When I say “turned up” I’m thinking of making it more realistic, not less: life can be very horrid (not only in a physical sense as Gensho points out) by itself and that’s the main problem I have with the ‘over the top’ thing: the details that just don’t fit with the general tone of the narration and spoil it a bit. Besides the exploding eyeballs, I found the phrase of “It was part of a lung, I think” crossing the line between disgusting and ridiculous, in fact I found it almost a pythonesque punch. Maybe it’s something personal, as I linked it with an anecdote from Jacques Brel’s life: when he was recording his last album and already ill of cancer, he often burst out in coughing attacks. After a particular violent one, he started looking for something in the studio (even down the piano) and finally he asked the musicians : “Has anybody seen a lung?”.

Real disease is more horrifying

Iron56's picture

I was less emotionally affected by the gore then the regret of an old man at his own display of personal cowardice, which is something I am regrettably familiar with. So there it is, it seemed camp to me, until Surya ran out of the door; then it was very personal, a tragedy. You successfully transmuted a hearty guffaw at hyperbolic 80's style horror gore into compassion for fellow beings (however fictional). (golf clap)

compassion for fellow beings

Thanks! I'm glad that worked. I'm old enough to have plenty of regrets of my own, and more of this novel is "writing what I know" than most readers would probably guess.


Thank you, Johann. I enjoyed the song, but wasn't sure what conclusions you drew from it.

Being clear

Hmm. You would communicate more clearly if you just said what you meant, instead of giving hints and allusions.

My guess is that you are saying you do not approve of this web site? In which case, I'm sorry it is not for you... There are many kinds of Buddhism, and different ones are good for different people.

Guessing this, guessing that.

Guessing this, guessing that. Seek for approval, fear of blame... That is what makes attention not approximately. And we hear just our thought "mine, not mine, pleasant, not pleasant"

As long as you do things with wisdom and investigate, what should be investigate, there is less beside virtue that could be not fit for practice.

So turn to practice is actually the message and don't seek for lovers. Ohh... this talker...