And he saith unto me,
Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book;
for the time is at hand.
He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still:
and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still:
and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still:
and he that is holy, let him be made holy still.
Behold, I come quickly;
and my reward is with me,
to render to each man according as his work is.
(Revelation 22: 10-12, ASV)
Chapter 1 (Partial)
There’s a thought that always comes to mind whenever I read light novels: “The illustrations count for everything.”
With insufferable dialogue saturated with crappy moe clichés, a masturbatory power fantasy setting, characters ripped off various works by other talentless hacks, and boring prose even a middle schooler could read – no, even an elementary schooler could write – the illustrations quickly become the sole redeeming feature. They’re excruciating to read; the illustrations make them readable.
The basis for pleasure lies in the eye of the beholder. In other words, what you see is what you get.
It’s a lie when they say surface appearances count for ninety per cent. They count for everything, I tell you. One hundred and ten per cent.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one thinking that. Plenty of others must think so too.
The Ugly Duckling, an assigned reading in the integrated elective unit “The World of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales”, is pretty much one of those stories. Basically, the story goes like this: “Life is on cruise mode when your appearance changes for the better; pretty much just means you won’t get skinned for a Chinese gourmet dish; those cheap foie gras bastards knew what they were doing!”
That is the message Hans Christian Andersen conveys through the story. Ugliness is a sin. Well, not that I really know if he meant that. But that was certainly the message I took away from Andersen’s work. I could feel the pathos in that tale as keenly as if it were my own. It made me wonder if I was Andersen. I was totally Andersen. So much so that I’d clutch my bayonets and say amen (1).
Maybe, just maybe, one could assume The Ugly Duckling is a story that gives hope to the unattractive.
But the truth is a different matter. Only an obnoxious Brothers Grimm fanatic could pull such a shallow reading out of nowhere (lol).
There is no hope in that tale. It is nothing more than a revenge fantasy against the destructive power of beauty, which denies the existence of ugliness. The duckling takes revenge by becoming even more beautiful than those that reject him. At no point does friendship or hard work come into it; victory comes entirely through pedigree. You don’t really see protagonists like that even in Shonen Jump these days.
For the sake of the argument, let’s say that fairytales are the foundation of human philosophy. The cold truth is that Andersen wrote a story in vague fear that the ugly will never be accepted for who they are.
So that’s what I wrote in my book report after the lecture.
Of course, I regret it now. Why didn’t I write something safer? Why didn’t I come up with some half-assed flattery that would make the teacher happy, just like the other students did?
(1) Alexander Anderson is a character from Hellsing who is known for crossing his bayonets with a bloodthirsty expression and yelling out “AMEN!”