Book: Understanding Capitalism
ITS A REAL PROBLEM
The average person cannot help but hold pre-conceived notions, and the nature of Capitalism is a phenomenon that most people who have encountered it have fully formed opinions on. Admittedly, it took a good amount of time into the book for this reviewer to start to fathom the concepts being presented, but as if a light switch was flipped, everything came into stark focus. Dr. Brian Kristofanderson presents a powerful look at the lives of those affected by Capitalism, often bouncing back and forth between humor, straightforward explanation, and painful realism.
Kristofanderson looks at the lives of many different people affected by Capitalism, chronicling their daily struggles in their work and personal lives. The book uses both Kristofanderson’s observations and his patients’ own writings that deeply reveal the personal effect the disease has on them. Despite the cultural and economic differences of the people interviewed, Capitalism affects each of them in similar ways. The book is as tragic as it is hopeful, as it follows these people as they either overcome or succumb to Capitalism.
This book is a bit of an eye-opener. It will not convince everybody, but perhaps the majority of readers will come away from it with newfound understanding into the plight of the disease. While admittedly hard to get over the initial skepticism at the premise of the book, if the reader can look at the issue in an impartial way, then this book will really raise pertinent questions. Kristofanderson clearly writes this book with a goal: to stop the prejudice against people with Capitalism. With solid scientific undertones, and a deeply human presentation, Kristofanderson lays out the case for Capitalism awareness, and the need for a sympathetic understanding for those affected by it.
8 out of 10 stars.
Capitalism (kappit’l izzem) n: A neurological condition, most often a birth defect, causing the affected person to type exclusively in capital letters. Moderate to severe cases are associated with poor grammar and lack of punctuation.
Chapter 35: Garret
From the diary of Garret Thornton:
“JULY 12, 2010
MY NAME IS GARRET THORNTON. THIS IS THE FIRST ENTRY IN MY JOURNAL THE PSYCHAITRIST ASKED ME TO KEEP. I HAVE A DISEASE CALLED CAPITILISM. IT MAKES LIFE HARD TO GET THROUGH SOMETIMES. PEOPLE JUDGE ME EVERYWHERE I GO BECAUSE THEY THINK I AM YELLING AT THEM
ONE TIME WHEN I WAS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, MY TEACHER ASKED ME TO WRITE SOMETHING ON THE BOARD SO I DID. BUT I WAS ONLY ABLE TO WRITE THINGS IN CAPITAL LETTERS, SO EVERYBODY GOT OFFENDED.
MY TEACHER SAID, ‘HOLY SHIT NEXT TIME GO OUTSIDE WHEN YOU WANT TO SHOUT SOMETHING. GIVE ME MY CHALK BACK, YOU FUCKING FAGGOT.’ ALL THE KIDS LAUGHED AT ME AND CALLED ME A NOOB AND A DOUCHE AND THE GIRLS TOLD ME I PROBABLY WAS COMPENSATING FOR A TINY PENIS AND I WET MY PANTS AND CRIED SO MUCH THAT I HAD TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL FOR DEHYDRATION TREATMENT.”
The life of Garret Thornton, as with most other victims of Capitalism, is often fraught with exchanges such as these. Awareness for Capitalism as a disease is severely lacking among the general populace. This leads others to cast those afflicted with the disease in a bad light, often perceiving them as hostile and ignorant, when they are anything but.
Shunned all his life because of his disease, Garret felt increasingly depressed and unwelcome as he grew up. His parents wanted nothing to do with him, his teachers wrote him off as a lost cause, and his peers cruelly taunted him at every opportunity. Garret felt like his life was hopeless.
“NOBODY LIKED ME. I TRIED TO MAKE FRIENDS, BUT EVERYONE JUST MADE FUN OF ME. I TRIED TO ASK A GIRL OUT ONCE, SO I PASSED HER A NOTE IN CLASS ASKING HER WILL SHE GO OUT WITH ME. SHE READ IT AND THEN PEPPER SPRAYED ME AND SHOUTED, ‘STOP FUCKING SCREAMING AT ME!’ THEN I GOT SENT TO THE PRINICAPL’S OFFICE AND SUSPENDED FOR THREE DAYS.”
Finally, in his junior year of high school, Garret hit breaking point and attempted to commit suicide. He threw his head in front of a speeding semi and lay still. Miraculously, the truck hit a bump a second before it hit his head and bounced mostly over it, only minimally re-shaping his skull.
Garret managed to make a full recovery and, in spite of everything, graduate high school with top marks. He was soon accepted into UCLA where he began working toward a B.A. in Anthropology. However, four years later, Garret lost it all. His capitalism flared up terribly, costing him his degree and much, much more.
Garret describes what happened:
“I WAS EXTREMEMLY PROUD OF MY DISSERTATION. I HAD SPENT AN INCREDIBLE AMMOUTN OF TIME AND EFFORT ON IT. I TRULY THOUGHT IT WAS BRILLIANT. BUT MY PROFESSOR TOOK ONE LOOK AT IT AND WROTE:
‘WOULD HAVE MADE SOME GOOD POINTS IF YOU HADN’T BEEN FUCKING YELLING AT ME THE WHOLE GODDAMN TIME. F. GO KILL YOURSELF.’
THAT NIGHT I DRANK FOUR BOTTLES OF NYQUIL AND SHOT MYSELF OFF A BRIDGE.”
Miraculously, Garret survived, although he was paralyzed from the nose down, with the exception of his fingers, which he could still move with their full dexterity.
Despite his unfortunate circumstances, Garret gained a new optimism about life. He looked at what happened to him as an opportunity to improve himself. He considered the fact that he still retained control of his fingers as “A BLESSING FROM THE LORD [sic]”. Even if he could not walk or feed himself, he could still converse with others on the internet. However, his enthusiasm was soon shattered when he realized that the internet, to quote the great Thomas Paine, “…was full of dicks.”
“I LOGGED ONTO A CHATROOM AND HAD ONLY SAID A FEW THINGS BEFORE PEOPLE STARTED CALLING ME A FAG AND TELLING ME TO STOP TYPING IN ALL CAPS. I TIRED TO TELL THEM ABOUT MY CONDITION BUT THEY WOULDNT HAVE ANY OF IT.”
An excerpt from such a chat room conversation:
TigerPony14: Hey, does anyone know if tickets for the Fleetwood reunion tour are on sale?
Arkansauce: I dont think they’ve gone on sale yet. This nov. I think?
Garret24: YOU COULD JUST ASK GOOGLE THATS WHAT GOOGLE IS FOR
Reg_inator: Yeah, do you know what lower case letters are for?
Arkansauce: Go back to typing school, caps fag.
Garret24: I CANT HELP IT
Arkansauce: Just like your mom couldn’t help dropping you on your head a few times.
Reg_inator: Hey-o!! Retard.
Garret24: FUCK YOU I HAVE A DISEASE
Garret went to many different chat rooms, but try as he might, he was met only with barrages of hatred and intolerance. Garret was shattered by these experiences, and sank into a deep depression. Finally, on January 4, 2011, Garret paid a man to stab him in the heart with an AIDS needle.
On that day, Garret, along with the rest of the world, stumbled upon a miracle cure for Capitalism. Some compound in the AIDS virus served to neutralize the Capitalist virus entirely, liberating Garret. He had never felt so alive.
“I am finally free! Thanks to a magical cure from God, I am finally free of this affliction which has haunted me my entire life! Look at the beautiful shapes and curves of all those lower case letters! I cannot possibly be happier than I am right now. Finally, through all my trials and tribulations, I have a promising future ahead of me. Today, at last, the world is a wonderful place!”
Six months later Garret died of AIDS.
Wow. That hit me with a curve-ball. Funny as hell, as usual. Fun to think about it as an actual problem. The very neo-realist ending was perfect.