Why ‘The Fault in our Stars’ would never work for me

The John Green phenomenon. The Nicholas Sparks tearjerkers. Their universal appeal is something reminiscent of Erich Segal. Teenagers find themselves at once lost and found in Green’s emotional miasma. It seems like they have spent a better part of their lives hoping for a ‘Green’-esque dilemma and heartache. Nicholas Sparks has a similar effect, except his readership transcends all age-boundaries. When The Fault in our Stars and The Notebook first appeared, they resonated with such intensity with a sizable bulk of the reading world, one would have been forgiven to have thought that all future of mankind hinged upon our emotional epiphanies.

Thus, it sometimes bothers me deeply when I myself unable to empathize with the basic premise of these modern-day masterpieces. There is a certain amount of willingness to be manipulated that is required in order to become a part of this world. And I staunchly refuse to do so every time. How could I possibly understand what two terminally-ill youngsters find comforting in each other? Its too private and isolated a feeling for me to comprehend. I would never know what to say to them in life. How could I then understand their predicaments in film? In a strange way, I presume it would be insulting to them to have us claim we ‘understand’ them and ‘feel’ what they ‘feel’, thanks to the genius of a film. I could never do it. No movie will ever be good enough to explain what they go through day after day. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the closest that any such effort has ever come. Even that is hardly enough. The dramatization of our physical short-comings and genetic handicaps has always made me uncomfortable. We will never truly understand the tumult of a mind and body calmly requesting euthanasia. The abject horror of having your lungs clamp up, and then looking at others to bring you back from the brink of death. We will never truly understand what it means to live a little less everyday.

So, what two terminally-ill cancer patients find in each other is too deep and pure for any of us to understand. It is a thing to be appreciated from a distance, awed at and respected. All the while admitting that our minds could never really connect with their superior ones. That it is their affliction which makes them wise beyond their ages and perfectly in tune with what they need. They have a clarity of purpose which will take us years to achieve, because they have stripped their minds of all illusions and false hope. Their awareness of mortality makes them better judges of people and emotionally ahead of their peers.

My detachment from all things delving too deep into the human psyche rests on this premise. Its not just that I will probably not like what I find, I will never understand it. The same way no one could ever understand what exactly drives my instincts in life. That is why love, rage, pain fascinate us in all their tragic forms. Triumphant love makes up for all inconveniences, sometimes even death.


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