I was always hyper optimistic and thought everyone could escape poverty of they worked hard and saved. Naive, yes, School is important but medieval knight is importanter vintage shirt what can I say? I was young, poor myself (so obviously I WANTED to believe with hard work, I’d eventually be rewarded) and dreamy-eyed. This book showed me that circumstances can fuck you and there’s just nothing you can do about it, and that both circumstances at birth and luck almost have more to do with your success than the effort you put forth.It’s a Danish book, the title literally translates to Nothing and I’m not sure it has ever been translated, so I don’t expect many to know it outside Denmark. It was a book made for high-school level students, but because the story revolves about the students of a 7th grade, every single 7th grade teacher in Denmark thought that it was appropriate for 7th graders – including mine.The plot of the book (spoilers for the whole book, but I don’t think it’s available outside Denmark anyhow) is about a 7th grade class coming back from summer vacation, and they’re all busy talking about their experiences over the summer. One kid named Pierre-Anton, however has realized that life is meaningless, and he refuses to be part of anything anymore.Pierre-Anton leaves and goes up into a tree, and refuses to come down. His talk about meaninglessness provokes the other kids, and they all decide to prove that life is meaningful, by collecting all the things they have that has meaning to them.They make the rule that one person has to decide what the next one should put into the pile, and you cannot refuse to add that item. That person then gets to choose what the next person has to give.
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At first they start with innocuous things such as family pictures, sports trophies, the main character has to give some nice shoes that meant a lot to her – but then it suddenly ramps up.The son of the town’s priest has to steal the cross from the church, and when a stray dog pees on it afterwards, he demands that the next person have to decapitate the dog. Even later the School is important but medieval knight is importanter vintage shirt girl in the class has to give her virginity, and the final addition is a guitar-player who has to cut off his own finger, since it means so much to him (and his ability to play).After all this, the guitar player obviously tells his parents the whole thing, and the Pile of Meaning ends up becoming an odd spectacle with various artist from across the world being interested in buying it, which the class don’t want to, as they feel conflicted. They only wanted to make it in the first place to prove that life has meaning to Pierre-Anton.When they finally convince Pierre-Anton to come down from the tree and see the pile, he instead dismisses it as just a bunch of material possessions and keeps affirming that life is meaningless, and that they have proved nothing. This provokes the class, and this time they attack him, and in the scuffle, the shed in which the pile is located catches on fire. While the rest of them get out, Pierre-Anton does not, and he and the pile burns down.