This is the book that me and my friend call “The Book That Cannot Be Named.” It is currently in my Top Ten Books of All Time, although it is now standing on shaky grounds because my current read is impressing me big time.
Anyway, why is it that we gave it that name? A better book title? No. It’s for the simple reason that my friend hates it to the bone. He can’t believe that I love this book. He thinks it’s an utter waste of time, lacking any literary aspiration at all. He even wonders what is wrong with the Nobel for making the author a laureate.
So we always fight about the merits and demerits of the book. And we fight with such ardor. Thus, it is indeed the book that cannot be named lest our friendship goes kaput.
I always tell my friend that the beauty of this book lies in the inspection of the society through a group of marooned boys. He would say that yes, yes, I already know that, and he would go on saying that it seems improper to do a social satire on this premise.
Huh? Where’s the sense in that? If you are with me, there is none, really. But that’s just his own taste. Nothing can be really argued about that. Degustibus non est disputandum.
So I haven’t really answered the question. Why do I love it?
First are the symbols embodied in the major players. There is our charismatic hero Ralph, the smart sidekick Piggy, the anti-hero Jack, the real villain Roger, and the poet Simon. The casting is perfect. Including the other boys who represent the masses, this is what our society is made of.
Ralph is chosen the leader of the group because of that conch. Well, he was able to blow it like a horn, so it is something which made him earn the respect of the boys. He is an ideal leader with good intentions. He often seeks out the help of his friend Piggy who acts like an economic, political, financial, whatever adviser. Together, they could lead the group of boys to safety and survival.
However, there is Jack, who is also a leader in his own rights. It is just that he represents that other side of the sphere. He emerges with his own group and crashes against Ralph, along with his cohorts, particularly Roger the sadist. So the leadership is taken away from Ralph and he is thrown into the outskirts of the group, with Piggy, of course.
And why should there be a poet? What is the importance of Simon in this group? As the poet, he will bring sense and truth to them. But he is mocked. He is killed. And like a true poet, he has predicted this death.
Riot after riot. Piggy dies too, his skull crushed on the sea rocks with his brains splattered out. And Ralph could have died too had it not been for the arrival of a naval ship. The boys are rescued. Right. But the portentous last words tells us that it might not be so. There is a bigger war going on a larger scale, nothing close to their little game in that deserted island.
When the audition dates for Survivor: Philippines were announced, I resolved to give it a try. First round was a group interview of five. You only have around two or three statements to make it or break it. Each group is lucky enough to have one applicant advance to the next round. There were a lot of groups who got eliminated, and my estimate is that only less than 10% of those applicants got through.
Second round was still an interview. This time, there’s a camera and only 30 seconds to impress the guys behind the cameras. Again, it was batched, this time by 20. In our batch, I was the first one. I didn’t have time to formulate my words. I was all nerves. And what does this have to do with the book?
I already said that this book is an inspection of the society. It tries to unearth the root causes of the evils that are pervading in it. You throw out a number of people in an island, and they are forced to work together. Thus, the foundation of a society.
This is what the author did. The evils are unearthed in the society that the group of boys formed. The evils lie in our deepest desires residing in our souls. Are these evils caused by the will to survive? Yes. Is it human nature? Most likely. So what can one do to purge these evils?
That’s what I want to know for myself. In my audition, I was asked why should they pick me as a castaway. I said that I am a huge Survivor fan, and after watching season after season of the US series, I can say that this TV show is a social experiment. With the last two words, the guy who asked me the question looked at me with interest. I continued by saying that the show, in a way, scrutinizes the flaws of a society’s foundation and exposes how dark the human soul can go for power and survival. I wanted so much to be a part of this experiment not so much for the money as for the realizations that I can reach.
Good answer? I don’t think so. That guy, who must be the casting director, shook his head when I made mention of the money. He didn’t believe that I would go hungry, filthy, paranoid, and exposed to the raw elements not because of money. So in our batch of 20, only one guy made it to the next level.
And what do you know? This guy put on a good show, screaming that he will prove that he is a worthy Survivor by jumping off a helicopter. Huh?