Looking for Alaska

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“If people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane”

The above quote deserves an honorable mention because a) It’s one of the most famous quotes that can be found in the book, b) It has a Tumblr fan base, c) It is a beautiful metaphor, and d) It was one of the reasons I read the book.

[The main (and lamer) reason is because it was in the reading list that I’ve mentioned before]

The way I see it, this book revolves around two main questions, both of which were covered in the Old Man’s religion papers. The Old Man was like my ‘tour guide’ in this book. He was the one who linked everything together and yes, I agree with Pudge that he is a genius.

#1 “What is the most important question human beings must answer?”

For the first paper, “What happens to us when we die?” was Pudge’s question, while that of Alaska was “How will we ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?”

Well, my question is the same as Pudge’s. I’ve always been curious to find out what it’s like to be dead. (So I’m actually rather disappointed that the world didn’t end last year. Have I lost my mind?) Is there really heaven, hell and/or reincarnation? Or do those who are dead just cease to exist (even as ghosts) anymore? After reading Looking for Alaska, I’ve gained an insight.

Firstly, a person is divided into two – their body (matter) and their soul.

Scientifically speaking, energy cannot be created or destroyed. Therefore, the body of a person will fall apart after they die and the carbon will be recycled into the environment by decomposers to power the growth of new organisms.

What about the soul? “People wanted security. They couldn’t bear the idea of death being a big black nothing […] People believed in an after-life because they couldn’t bear not to.” That, I totally agree. You see, where you’ll ‘go’ to after you are dead depends on your religion. That’s why some people believe in reincarnation while others believe in a heaven. Therefore, I’m starting to think that these places don’t exist.

#2 “How will you – you personally – ever get out of this labyrinth of suffering?”

The second paper, you must have realized, was actually Alaska’s answer to the first question. Unfortunately by then, Alaska was not around to answer this question anymore but because of that, Pudge was able to do so.

After Alaska died, the guys set off to ‘look’ for the reason behind her death (hence the title of the book). Was it an impulsive suicide or was it merely an accident. This mystery was and should never be solved because that’s just Alaska – “You never get me. That’s the whole point.” The guys would have to live with the fact that they’ll never know Alaska well enough to be able to know if it was suicide or accident.

“We had to forgive to survive the labyrinth.”

To escape the labyrinth, we will need to be able to forgive ourselves for all the mistakes that we’ve made due to the fact that we never will know the consequences behind every decision in our lives. There’s only one (imaginary) guy who can calculate all the possible consequences of every action, and he’s the funny looking guy in Men In Black 3. But even with his ability, he is also unsure of the future sometimes. So there, just learn to live with your decisions, no matter how lousy they were, because “would’ve”s could kill.

Although my opinions are not exactly trustworthy since every book I’ve read were always either deemed good or because I’ve learnt something from them (which translates to being good enough for me), I’d say Looking for Alaska is a fairly good book due to the latter.

One more thing I’ve learnt is:

“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia […] You just use the future to escape the present.”

My new year resolutions:

1. No more nostalgia
2. Get a Life’s Library like Alaska
3. Eat a brufriedo

The last one is, sad to say, impossible. But ahhhhh, I’ve always wanted to try imaginary food like those in books, or Neopets (they look super delicious!!!). I’m also curious enough to want to have a go at the teletubbies’ tubby custard and tubby toast. Everything just seem to be better when they are not real 😦

Lastly, I apologize if this post is too heavily quoted. John Green is such an expert in expressing his ideas through words that I have no idea how to rephrase anything he wrote.

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