Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another Tiger

My favorite book was The White Tiger. This is also another book about a symbolic tiger.



There's not a specific word that I could use to describe how I feel after reading Life of Pi. The first thought I had when I first started reading it was another dull, boring story of survival with a National Geographic-like intro. Any form of academic reading now only involves textbooks ever since I was fated to go to SBP.

It started off quite slowly and in a very disconnected manner, merely like a string of short stories or a collection of thoughts which were not in any particular coherent chronological order. Well, he started off talking about three-toed sloths, then about zookeeping and swimming pools, which neither of the information deluge was retained by my flitty mind.

The story about how he came about being a man of many religions caught my interest, but only for a while. It was fascinating. Outside my school life, I've never met any other person with a religion other than Islam, Buddhism, Christianity or Hinduism. I don't even have as many non-muslim friends. When I returned to the "real world", released from the sheltered nature of boarding school, I've met many other people who fascinate me, even atheists, yet, I have never met any other person with multiple religions. It made this Pi character fascinating in that sense, and the question in mind was, what was the purpose of having a character have so many religions? What was the author trying to prove? Was Pi an embodiment of something?

Later on, the story progressed to the shipwreck. From there, the story had more chronological sense to it. Less philosophy-laden observations of the animal world and comparing it to the society. Despite my dislike for details, I did notice a lot of foreshadowing of his being marooned. For example, his mother asking him to read Robinson Crusoe. There was another one, I forgot what it was.

It came across as an absurd account to actually have animals on board a life boat, I had a suspicion that the animals represented something else. The way the zebra was killed was described in such detail that I felt the zebra's pain and I swear, I'd almost felt like I was going to go vegan, but, pfftt!!! Like, that'll ever happen!

There's lots of scary parts that I can conjure up vividly in my brain, as if it was a movie. I can see the colors, the blood gushing out, and the horror of it all in mind. Beheading animals, dismembering of body parts.

There were also disgusting details involving poop and all that. Especially the part when you're so hungry, you'd even desired tiger shit.

Then, the part about the island. That was boring, but when it was revealed it was something else..that took on a bit of a horror movie feel which was a bit out of place, and too absurd to comprehend. Perhaps, it symbolized something else too, which was not explained by the end of the book.

After being saved, my suspicions were somewhat confirmed, and it came to my senses that as human beings like to ascribe violence to animals. Yet, what we do not realize is, we are the most dangerous, the most violent animal to have ever walked the earth. It was hinted at the beginning of the story. clever, clever. So, those boring details do have a meaning.

Some of us are aware of this brutality that exists deep inside of us. Put under dire circumstances, we come to realize its presence. At first, it seemed alien, like a monster, like a tiger ready to pounce on its prey, yet, eventually we realize that we have to "tame" that brute. There's an animal in us. As Pi puts it, human beings can get used to anything. Even killing.

And yes, we do surprise ourselves at the violence that we are actually capable of, and prefer to retell the stories with the perpetrators as animals instead of human beings because we believe that it is more plausible that an animal would act in a violent, inhumane manner rather than a human being himself.

Well, folks. Think again.

p/s: This writer is so damn smart. Put me through 3/4 of boringness and on the verge of flinging the book through my open window, only to deliver one of the strongest endings ever.

oh, and I didn't know tigers meow.

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