Published: March 2008
Readers who selected this book also read: We Ourselves by the same author.
Dionyssis Charitopoulos’s Imbecility Manual is a self-awareness handbook, a compendium of life wisdom centered on the intellect and comprehension, ingenuity and idiocy, stupidity and the simple-minded. These related phenomena are examined from an anthropological and historical perspective, as well as as clinical symptoms of contemporary life.
On the back cover, the writer pointedly notes that “because we all underestimate the number of idiots among us and are often stunned by its display by people ‘beyond suspicion’, we likely need to be introduced anew”.
Charitopoulos has organized his original aphorisms into 88 categories that correspond to instances, examples, and interpretations of human stupidity. The book can be read sequentially, from beginning to end, as well as out of order, just as a collection of poems or short stories.
The extract below, Chapter 18, conveys the author’s personal style which is simultaneously humorous and serious as he argues his aphorism, incisively and with common sense.
Perhaps no single trait has helped man’s intellectual ability more than attention: this invaluable ability of the brain to focus intently which all conceiving animals possess: the cat when it is about to pounce on a mouse, the eagle when it spots its prey from the air, the tiger which focuses so completely on its victim that it’s said you can approach it. Thanks to attention, the bipedal creature can “conceive” all aspects of life, it acquires a more specific perception of the world, and becomes providing and effective. It’s not by accident that the astute are referred to as a “cat” or “sparrow hawk” or “eagle”, someone “who doesn’t miss a beat” while the fathead is called a “bubo bubo”, “animal” or “ox”, someone “who can’t see his nose” because the one views the world through a periscope and the other through a piece of macaroni.
For a larger English sample and reviews visit the Readers Guide, where you will also find an older interview with the author.