- Book: Nothing Important Happened Today
- Location: London, World
- Author: Will Carver
I have no idea what genre this book is. It is fiction but it is also an exploration of the notion of what it means to be in a cult, to lead a cult and what lies at the heart of mass inculcation and obedience, with or without leadership. The book can also be in part a treatise on the notion of group behaviour and the power that one individual exerts over others. How does mass indoctrination work?
Yes, it does deal with the serious issue of suicide, mass suicide in fact, and it starts out with the 9 people who are about to link together on Chelsea Bridge and jump off it to their deaths. They have never met, they have come together after having been sent letters with “Nothing Important Happened Today“: the trigger to act.
“Nine suicides. One cult. No leader”
The characters in the book are people, they have names, they have families, friends and lives to lead but once they are part of ‘The People of Choice’ group, as they are dubbed, they lose their identities. Not zombies exactly but just a number in the great scheme of things. They are nobodies and they are epithets (Doctor/Nobody/Ungrateful etc) and as the news headlines and times move on, they are relegated to history. They are a dramatic and newsworthy event, worth note for a short time but then they are no more. More suicides start to occur across the world….
The author ponders the authority of individual killers who are still very much remembered (unlike the The People of Choice) like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson (and of course his pregnant victim Sharon Tate) and Jeffrey Dahmer (the Milwaukee Cannibal) who came to exert power over others. He examines the subject of subjugation and mindless adulation (think Bagwhan Shree Rashneesh). This is a huge topic, creatively compressed into just under 300 pages.
The author clearly enjoys throwing into the narrative areas that are of interest to him, that are oftentimes fascinating experiments, observations and so forth. What I took away from the book was that somehow, as humans, we are all pretty much members of a cult. How do we come to behave as we do? We believe we act as cognisant entities, with individual personas but just look how easily humans can be conditioned into behaviour that is pretty odd, destructive and of sheep mentality. You thought you were immune from cultish behaviour? Think again!
Oh well, must go off to sort our Twitter feed, goggle at Gogglebox and like a zombie, cram all my Christmas shopping into one week, along with a gazillion others. Nobody actually “instructed” me to do any of these things yet here I am, conforming and not really giving it a second thought – only I am, after reading this book! And you will too!
Much of the book is set in London as people jettison themselves from various well-known bridges. It is a thought provoking and unique read.