Monday, January 20, 2014

This is my grandniece Izzie born in New Zealand around about that time there was such a big earthquake. I think she will be a delightful curmudgeon one day. There are so few of us. I'll have to put her in training to become one. It's an art as much as a disposition.

This is George Carlin. He's the only sane response to an insane world.

And this is last week's column published in the West Quebec Post, January 16, 2014.

Slippers and Synthesis

"George," I said to Himself who was busy at the kitchen table doing something rather mysterious with a cassette, scotch tape and my mother's silver butter knife. "George, thank heavens the holiday season is over."

"Yes dear," said Himself. The cat had managed to heave her great bulk up onto the table and was now sitting there examining George's work with great interest. She kept pawing at the odd assortment of screws and nuts much to his annoyance.

"There's a store now advertising JanYOUary sales. This is the new thing, all the deeply disappointed people who didn't get what they wanted for Christmas can now go out and buy what they REALLY wanted. It's somewhat disturbing don't you think?"

"Yes dear," said Himself again.

"I remember the old days. When I was a child I desperately wanted a pair of slippers that looked like bunny rabbits. I did indeed get slippers but they looked more like those ones that Bela Lugosi used to wear in those black and white films."

"It scarred you for life and now you run around barefoot in the house because of post-traumatic stress disorder?" suggested George.

"No. I run around barefoot because that is what any woman raised in Cape Breton does. Well, at least in my family. The point of all this is that I was disappointed but learned over time that it was the giving and not the gift that counted. This is a new generation. They want what they want and to hell with the consequences. There is simply no reasoning with the selfishness. It's now embedded in their programs."

"I see," said George who now had the dog sitting beside his chair staring mournfully at him because she had determined he was making some kind of snack and not sharing it.

"Makes you wonder what it's all about doesn't it?" I asked wistfully if not rhetorically, forgetting completely that George is a rhetorical answering machine by nature without a 'skip this message' button. In 21 years I have still not learned this, I thought.

"Asking what is the meaning of life or why we were put on this planet or what's the point of it all, or the meaning of everything, is all the same question as asking what is the point.  There is no point of everything since the point is included in everything.  It is it's own point. Therefore the question is rendered meaningless."

"Is the ultimate goal of life just happiness? Which, of course to this generation means consumerism and self-indulgence?"

 "These questions," said Himself dragging the cat off the table and shooing away the dog, "are meaningless. To quote Honey Boo Boo's mother, 'It is what it is.'"

"Yet people need something to strive towards. By labeling these questions as meaningless, you have created no reason for people to go on. By nature people strive. It is the nature of all beasts." The dog and cat had reassumed their positions of deep interest in whatever Himself was up to.

"If that is your definition. If you define yourself as that which needs to be defined to be, than yes. You either define life or live it. Understanding is not necessarily that which can be spoken. The truth that can be spoken in not the truth."

"You know," I said, “by definition there would be no such thing as a question if there were not an answer. Answers go with questions like whipped cream on strawberry pie."

"But this is a specific category of question dealing with absolutes, like asking to prove the existence of God.  There is no thesis/antithesis when dealing with absolutes, all differences fall away, like introducing infinity to a mathematical equation, all variables are equal.  Yes, I would agree that there is an answer for every question, but in this case it is the nature of the questioning and the answering that is at issue.  That is why God cannot be proven to exist."

"Then there is nothing spiritual or meaningful to our existence than that of a slug on a rock then," I said, suddenly noticing my bare feet lying on the floor in front of me maybe for the first time in my life. Why didn't I wear slippers anyway? I mean its all very well and good to rationalize my bare feet as a Cape Breton tradition but in the end, there you are, walking around with bare feet. 

"The point is there is no point, the meaning is there is no meaning, which should be understood as a state beyond the reflective antithetical mind and not as reason for suicide. And how can you presume to speak for a slug?"

"Somebody has to speak for the slugs of this world." I was now worrying about slippers. I could go out there and buy myself bunny rabbit slippers any time I want. Why haven't I done that? I'm 50 odd years old and have never bought myself a pair of slippers. I must be deeply disturbed. Certainly not fashionable or even, heaven forbid, normal. This is not good.

Himself was now mumbling about having to work under these conditions because the cat now had spread herself on top of his work, her great white belly exposed for a rub and a cuddle. The dog had one paw on George's knee. "Do you think," I asked, "You could take your great antithetical mind and make dinner since it is your turn?"

"Yes dear," said Himself.

"And after that we're going shopping because I need slippers."

"Yes dear."

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