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my dinner with YBH by Joseph Kugelmass
 

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  • The following is a transcript of my Facebook chat tonight with my friend, Y.

    Y: We should have a reunion.

    Me: Let's reunite bra, let's kumbaya it UP!

    Y: Sweat dude, that's sweet lodge. I loved Neuromancer. I did a paper on it about my little religious obsession -- transcendence.

    Me: Yeah, what a great book. Corny every once in a while but mostly exhilarating. The Platonic dream of transcending this existence and existing purely within truth.

    Y: Yes. I thought I reached that state once by playing only the black keys on my grandmother's piano, but then my cousin found me slumped against the wall.

    Me: That still happens to me when I play The Black Keys, especially their new one. I wish that I had high enough grade weed to enjoy the plinking piano song from Eyes Wide Shut. I think maybe that would be a possible route to nirvana.

    Y: But then you would wake up and the dishes would be sky high. I'm actually taking a class with a prof who believes in the transcendent and he said something like that. The title of his book is After The Ecstasy, The Laundry. What do you make of that, besides pancakes?

    Me: I dunno. It seems sort of anticlimactic, no? I mean, OK, that's obvious. But the sentimental way he's going for a kind of down-to-earth "it's not all about enlightenment" is so annoying.

    Y: So does that mean you believe some kind of enlightenment is possible?

    Me: Oh, absolutely.

    Y: ARE YOU ENLIGHTENED?

    Me: I believe that I am. For example, I really have to do laundry. But even though I might not be enlightened, I still believe it is achievable and that some people have been.

    Y: I've been a little cynical of late. Would like spring to bloom in my heart again, but I'm dark and bitter to the core. I'm so dark and bitter to the core I don't even believe in a core. All we are is a complex. LOL

    Me: That doesn't necessarily preclude becoming enlightened. The Buddha didn't believe in a core either. All he was was a simplex.

    Y: Is that a theatre where they only show one movie at a time?

    Me: Exactly. But to see that movie...!

    Y: It's a keeper!

    Me: Rewatchable!

    Y: Enlightening!

    Me: We guarantee you will be thrilled! Delighted! Informed!

    Y: Price of Admission?

    Me: Nothing less than every experience you have ever had, down to even the most trivial or regrettable.

    Y: Can I have some time?

    Me: Yes. But be careful. One time a man asked for some time. "I will see the movie tomorrow," he said. Then tomorrow came and he needed to go fishing. "There is always time," he thought to himself. But it was a poor day for fishing and the people standing nearby mocked him.

    A Parable.

    Y: There was a man who was a beater. He beat his woman and his cow. Then one day God said I will not reward you for beating so he stopped.

    Me: Bravo!

    Y: God is great. God is merciful. God is Good. You're cool too, though.

    Me: Thank you! Insha'Allah.

    Y: Namaste. So the class I'm taking with the prof who believes is a World Religions class, and I just finished the readings for Christianity. There's this guy in there who knows the Bible like a very small map of an alley.

    Me: Does he quote it for his own purposes? Because if so I would not trust him. Is it a cool thing or a dogmatic thing?

    Y: Cool. Intellectual, not fundamentalist.

    Me: Reflective, no invective. What's the best quote he's fired off?

    Y: He just knows a lot of facts, like how the oldest person in the Bible is Methuselah, and how old he was (980 I think, the poor guy, so little time. . .)

    Me: Yeah, but do you realize Methuselah aged like normal people? For 900 years all he did was watch Jeopardy and complain about Twitter.

    Y: Well, that sounds like a very fulfilling life.

    Me: Towards the end he became pensive. And yet I think in some ways he retained his own little spark of joy. He was always very daring during the "Final Jeopardy" rounds.

    Y: I lost my edge around my 400th and, oh, I guess, like twenty-five. . . Methuselah sure stayed sharp though. What a fellow.

    Me: He kept himself going with chin-ups and crosswords.

    some time passes

    Y: I think Despair came in through the basement window. He's got some kind of torture chamber down there. But he hasn't paid his rent, so I'm calling the cops.

    Me: I know. it's hard to keep it off.

    Y: It's like the happy wave just crashes sometimes. Do you think, as I believe Jung wrote, that death is a healthy interest, "especially for the aging?" Sorry for using you like an oracle. Please take it as a sign of trust. What do you think of the pattern where someone is interested and looks over the edge and gets terrified and swears off and then gets interested again. Is there any profit in looking over the edge?

    Me; I actually think the metaphor is not great because it implies a moment of catastrophe, suicide, or at least a loss of control. I prefer to think of it as something like "having Death as a companion," in the same way that I like to be accompanied by beauty and hope.

    Y: Yeah, I want to have it be my companion, but then I get scared. Any thoughts?

    Me: None. I get scared, too.
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