Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jesus in the desert

Part I

I am a veteran telepath who can pick-up the baby-booming thoughts of his restless peers: A chorus of, "I told you so!  I fucking told you so!" I respond, "No, told you so!"

Everyone has been watching human civilization totter (again); everyone saw it coming; now, 
in a nightmarish house of mirrors, everyone is telling everyone so.

It had been a while since I'd seen my desert friends- Jesus, Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess and Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster- and I felt the need for their company. They sensed my desire.  One morning I wandered a few hundred random yards into the desert and there they were.

They scanned me as I approached.  Betty's thoughts arrived first.

Betty: Harry, we like your house of mirrors metaphor.

Me: Thanks.

Robert: If it makes you feel any better, all the gila monsters are saying "I told you so."

Me: That makes me feel 
so much better, Robert.

Betty: Harry, don't be cross.  The gods are saying it too.

Me: Jesus!

Jesus [suddenly appearing]: You rang?

Me: What the....?

Betty: It's ok, Harry.  Jesus visits us from time to time.

Jesus gave a nod to Robert.

Jesus: I was on my way to commune with you, Betty, when I picked up Harry's thoughts, about everyone saying "I told you so."  That's a subject close to my heart.  Harry [turning to me], as it happens there's something I've wanted to say to you.

Me: Really?  What is it? 

Jesus: I told you so.

Betty and Robert guffawed.

Jesus [to Betty and Robert]: Would you mind if I had a few words with Harry?

Betty and Robert exited the scene.  Jesus surveyed me for a moment, while I surveyed him.  He kept changing.  One second he was right out of those paintings of Jesus I used to see in Woolworth's, or like the guy on those devotional candles at the Family Dollar Store, idealized images of a man suffering from knowledge he is not supposed to have.

Then he shifted and looked like a homeless guy in ragged pants and flannel shirt holding a dusty bag of belongings.

Jesus: Sorry about that.  Meeting me for the first time can be disorienting.

Me: What did you mean by, "I told you so"?

Jesus: Just joking.  But if we had spoken I would have told you so.

Me: What would you have told me?

Jesus: I would have told you that you are right: humankind is lost in a major way.  You have no bearings, no reference points, no morality.

Me: No morality?  I thought you and your father were supposed to give us that.

Jesus: No, we influence you to do or not do certain things, but it doesn't add up to a morality you would understand.

Me: What's the point, then?

Jesus: I can't tell you the point, because you would not understand it.

Me:  Figures.  Just to pursue this, why wouldn't we understand it?

Jesus: The mythic stories we inspired in you describe you as fallen.

Me: Yes.

Jesus: And that is literally true.  You have fallen from yourselves.  Your "minds" are not connected to your perceptions.

Me: But we see and hear things.

Jesus: I don't mean your five senses.  I mean other senses, stronger ones.

Me: Sometimes I feel or think things and don't know why.

Jesus: That's from your mind trying to assimilate perceptions from the hidden senses, trying to decipher and represent them to you. The hidden senses can only communicate with your mind in dream-like symbols, because straightforward perception would severely disrupt your ideas about who you are and your place in things.

Me: Why?  What is our place in things?

Jesus: I think you should talk to my disciple, and the next Anointed One: Maury Glickman.  He lives in Woodland Hills, under a freeway overpass.

Me: Woodland Hills!  You've got to be kidding!

Woodland Hills is a suburb of Los Angeles at its northwest limit. You may have heard of it from the movie My Parents Are Aliens, in which ET aggressors attack earth through Woodland Hills when they discover it is humanity's weak spot.

Me: Well, it would give me something to do.

Jesus: That's the spirit.

Me: Can I ask you something else?

Jesus: Yes.

Me: Well, I'm Jewish.  In the big picture, the one you see, what does that mean?

Jesus: You're not supposed to believe in me, of course.  You've been very good about that.

Me: Yes, but... why aren't we supposed to believe in you?

Jesus: Because it is necessary, in order to guide your benighted species, that we "divide and conquer you," for want of a nicer way to put it.  If your kind were united, spiritually, intellectually...if you were aware, prematurely, it would be a most unpleasant disruption for all concerned.

Me: But we seek enlightenment.

Jesus:  You won't get it while you seek it.

Me: Oi!  Are you Jesus or a Zen master?

The entire desert shook with Jesus' inscrutable laughter as he shimmered and vanished.

It was sundown in the desert.  I walked to my little cabin and checked the gas in my car.  Next stop: Woodland Hills!



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Maury Glickman

Part II of Jesus in the desert

Readers will recall my surprise encounter with Jesus last week while I was in the desert near Pearblossom visiting my friends Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess and Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster. Jesus talked to me about our "hidden senses," by which he meant senses other than the five we rely on- senses we either use but don't know we use, or repress altogether.  In response to my incessant questions along the lines of, "But what does it all mean?", Jesus referred me to Maury Glickman, the next "Anointed One," he said, who lives under a freeway overpass in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills.

I felt I should charge my batteries before seeking Maury.  I let a few days go by while I tried to find patterns in the news, material I could discuss with him.  I detected a cycle in which the world media's focus shifts from one hotspot to another every three to four days. For instance, most recently we had three to four days each of race war in Charlottesville, terrorist attacks in Spain, then Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  The media follows this cycle and knows its meaning: if people look at the same thing for too long- even something fascinating like cars floating down the street- their neurons get fatigued and they need something new to look at.   Time is about up for Hurricane Harvey- it better dissipate fast to make room for Disaster X!

I added to a growing list of questions for Maury: Why do natural and manmade disasters fit into the three to four day time-frame of human attention?  Is the whole cosmos trying to get on prime-time? Is that because things are trying to exist, but they exist only on prime-time, where ironically they don't exist at all?

Armed with a few pointed questions like these, I felt I was ready for Maury. I woke up my trusty 2007 Camry and we shoved off.  After about an hour on freeways (the 14, the 5, the 405, the 101), I arrived at the Winnetka Blvd. offramp in the heart of Woodland Hills.  A quick left took me through Maury's home, essentially a giant concrete exhaust accumulator and combustion engine echo chamber. I kept going, crossed Ventura Blvd. and parked at Ralph's, then walked back to the overpass.  It was about 4:00pm. There was one homeless person on the sidewalk under the overpass on the west side, and two people, a man and a woman, on the east side. Crossing from Ralph's on the east I approached the man and woman first. She was maybe in her forties, with a missing tooth, a ragged pea coat wrapped around her waist and a tank top T-shirt revealing muscular shoulders, sinewy arms and lots of tattoos: tigers and dragons, a dreamboat-boy and a blade slicing a heart.   She said, "What can I do for you, sonny?"

Her stocky male friend, who looked about 45, was enjoying the warm evening in a brown T-shirt with a faded Jimmy Hendrix logo. He had a crumpled paper bag with objects in it.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for Maury Glickman," I said.

They both laughed.  She said, "That's the motherfucker over there!," pointing to the lone figure across the street.

The man said, "Mutherfucker'll fuck with your head, man!"

She said, "No shit!  You'd best shut your ears!"

They continued to laugh as I walked to the corner and crossed the street.  As for the figure that was Maury, I squinted and made out a man with long darkish hair, maybe in his fifties, surrounded by his personal items, seated crossed-legged on a rug on the sidewalk.

I approached him.  From across the street came laughter and shouts of, "He'll fuck with your head, asshole!"  Maury watched me with a faint smile.

Hello, Harry!

I guess you were expecting me.  Nice to meet you, Maury.

Same here.  Have a seat.

Maury moved himself and his belongings over and gestured for me to sit beside him on a square yard of rug.  

So Maury, Jesus told me you are the next Anointed One.  What's that about?

It's just show business; that's what people want.

What?

They want an anointed one who will know things, who will have answers.

And that would be you?

Yeah, go figure.  I don't know jack about shit.

We gazed across the street at the couple, who were watching me and making circular motions with their index fingers around their temples as if to ask, "Is he fucking with you yet?"

They are on my last nerve, Maury grumbled, with a malign stare at the tormentors.

Maury, tell me your story.

Sure, it started here in Woodland Hills, where the semi-arid longs for the sea across the mountains, in the land that time and everything else forgot.

Great beginning, Maury!  I can definitely see you as anointed!

Thanks.  If you are from these parts you might remember Glickman Ford, not far from here on Ventura and Corbin.

Yours, huh?  How was business?

I did well for years, then ran into trouble with bad investments and was hit hard in 2008.  I sold everything and managed to salvage a comfortable retirement.  

From across the street the woman yelled:  Don't listen to that fucker!

Maury continued: 
All those years selling cars I was also doing advanced physics and cosmology in my head.

Why didn't you do that for a living, in a university?

There's more and easier money in cars, at least there used to be, leaving me time to think about things.  I solved all kinds of classic riddles and paradoxes while I'd be talking to someone about their power steering or some shit.

Like what paradoxes?  What's an example of something you solved?

Well, I solved the famous Card Paradox, where one side of a card says, "The statement on the other side of this card is true," and the other side says, "The statement on the other side of this card is false."

How did you solve that?

Easy.  Who gives a shit!

What?

Who cares what someone wrote on a card? What's that got to do with anything?

The Anointed One gazed dreamily at the mirthful couple, who continued to watch our doings.

So Maury, what did you do after retiring from business?

I sat around figuring things out.   It drove my wife crazy.  She would walk past, glance at me sitting on the couch with a certain look on my face and say things like, "Figuring things out again, Maury? Why don't you figure out how to unclog the garbage disposal?" Once she scolded me for putting the cheap silverware with the good, right after I had figured out the classic Fletcher's Paradox that has baffled the best minds for centuries.

What's the Fletcher's Paradox?

A fletcher, someone who makes arrows, starts thinking about an arrow flying through the air and realizes that the arrow can't actually move- in fact nothing can move.  That's because at any one moment (whatever a moment is) the arrow is at one point only, so for the duration of that moment the arrow is in a fixed position; it is not moving. Therefore it is never moving but only expressing itself at different fixed points.

Hmm.  How did you resolve that?

What's to resolve?  Nothing ever moves, but we see an animation of varying fixed points over time, which is an illusion.  Not a problem.  NOT A PROBLEM!

That last outburst was aimed across the street at our fellow dispossessed, who continued their mirth unabated.

Maury, what do you care about them?  What are you doing here, anyway? I thought you were comfortably retired.  Where's your wife?

Living in our old house.  She was very upfront with me.  I had to give it to her for eloquence.  "Your problem, Maury," she'd say, "is that you have these brilliant, I mean, no shit Maury you have some motherfucking brilliant ideas!  But here's the thing, Maury, you are on your own planet. Since you don't sell Fords you've stopped interacting. Let me be straight, Maury, I do not give a crap that you figured out fusion power, ok? Start a fucking company, sell the secret.  Do something!

Maury sighed and continued: "Do something" -  She had a point.  I had concluded that Bertrand Russell was right in his 1935 book, "In Praise of Idleness" that it is critical that humans stop doing things.  That would include making things and thinking about things in ways that lead to changing things.  

Should people stop doing everything?  Should they stop having sex?

They should stop having babies.  Sex itself burns calories and is harmless.

Would you say falling in love is harmless?

Harry, you are a sneaky wretch.  Are we to debate every nuance in my comments?  Are you jealous of me?  Have you come to sit with me because you are my rival?  Do you in fact desire to be the Anointed One?

Fuck no!  What is that, anyway?

It's a title- beyond that, if it gets me out of the house [gesturing at his surroundings] I'm down with it.

How did you get this gig?  Did you interview with Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess?

It was a panel, her and Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster, Jesus and a few others.  I heard about it in a dream.  They wanted original thinking mammals, especially humans, who had figured out innovative ways to deal with humanity's latest implosion, but who needed some inside help to get their ideas out there. In my case, in return for endorsing human policy that is friendly, or at least not outright hostile to various "animal" and "divine" interests, I'll be promoted to the point where I end up the Anointed Savior or whatever.

Man!  What will you do then?

I'll try to roll with it.  Nobody better look behind the curtain.

You still haven't explained why you're living on the sidewalk.

Maury looked off into the distance of his mind, beyond the cackling couple across the street, to a place of logic and love.

You still have much to learn, Harry.

Like what?  Why do you live on the street?

It's cheaper.

Stay tuned as Harry the Human and Maury the Anointed One discuss unfolding world events and Maury answers more of Harry's questions.