Here's a free tip. If you're about to quit smoking, which is no small thing, Christ knows, especially if you've smoked four packs a day for 40 years, try to schedule your nicotine withdrawal for a time when you're not planning to be attacked by the entire Internet for being a stalker rapist and misogynist serial killer. Believe me, this will reduce the strain on your already tortured psyche and shredded sensorium, and ease the transition to becoming an all-around better person.
I have a serious admission to make here, and I've put it off far too long. Despite what I've written at Mystic Bourgeoisie, despite all my railing about the crowd that bills itself "spiritual but not religious," despite all my ranting about the trivial pursuit of angels and crystals and inner lights, the fact is that I still retain the basic inclinations of your average throwback hippie dope fiend. I'm not proud of this, but it's true. I am forced to live with who I am.
The most obvious form this affliction takes is my longtime habit of using my car radio as a cheap pragmatic substitute for The I Ching or Book of Changes . Here's an example of how that works. First, I carefully formulate my question. For instance: "What does the Internet Community think of me today?" Once I have this question firmly fixed in my mind, and have contemplated it for a time, I quickly reach out and turn on the Classic Rock station. If I get a response like...
EVERYBODY WANTS YOU!!!
...I know I'm going to have a good day. If on the other hand, the oracle replies...
YOU'RE NO GOOD YOU'RE NO GOOD YOU'RE NO GOOD
BABY YOU'RE NO GOOD!
...well, you get the idea.
Now the things is, ever since my agoraphobia kicked in hard a couple years ago, and I now only leave the house to score -- chicks or E or Nicorette gum -- I just don't get that many opportunities to tell my fortune using Classic Rock. However, I've found this also works with Amazon, even if consulting the oracle through this channel entails a more complex interpretive methodology. Allow me to describe my "casting" upon waking up today.
Some of you may have noticed that, in my post of yesterday, I linked the phrase "mean kids" to Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais. It's important to note that this is a SEARCH INSIDE™ book on Amazon, because the next step involves clicking on the thumbnail graphic to get into the guts of the book. With my question already formed and held firmly in the forefront of my conscious mind -- this morning it was a simple query that I use quite often: "WTF?" -- I hit the Surprise Me! link. Go ahead, try it. Of course, since that generates a random page, it's very unlikely you'll end up the same place I did -- which was on page 125, "Chapter Fifty-eight: Prophetic Riddle Found on the Foundations of the Abbey of Thélème" (easier to read in its entirety here).
Now, as the Amazon oracle affords greater hermeneutic leeway than the five-second blast produced by the Classic Rock oracle, one has to browse about a bit to find one's star-ordained passage. It was soon obvious that my earnest "WTF?" was addressed by the following in a most uncanny and divinatory way...
And even the greatest of great, our noblest men,
OMG! That's so profound! OMG!
Will find themselves attacked by those they rule.
Those bound by law and custom to show respect
Will lose all knowledge of order, all sense of distinctions,
For the word of the hour, spoken for all to hear,
Will be that any man can lead, and any
Follow, and this will turn the whole world quarrelsome,
Fighting and bickering, yammering this and that,
That nowhere in history, despite its incredible tales,
Will there be such stories of riots and public displays.
Then brave men will be seen on every side,
Spurred by courage and youth and passion, but far
Too trusting of their own desire: they'll die
In their prime, cut down before they ever grow old,
And no one will think of leaving what he's started,
Once his courage pushes him on, until
He quarrels and argues and finally fills the sky
With empty noise, the earth with marching feet.
Then faithless men will share authority
With men of virtue, and men all over the earth
Will follow foolish leaders and foolish ideas,
Bred by ignorance and believed by mobs of ignorant
Fools, the worst of whom will become our judges.
But what does it really mean? Fortunately, I read on...
The monk said:
And here's to yours!
"And what do you think this enigmatic poem is trying to say? What do you think it means?"
"What?" said Gargantua. "The nature of divine truth, and how to preserve it."
"By Saint Goderan!" said the monk. "That's not how I take it. It reads as though Arthur's old wizard, Merlin the Prophet, wrote every word of the thing. Stick in all the allegories and the terribly serious intellectual stuff you like, and let all that carry you away, you and the rest of the world. Go ahead. As far as I'm concerned, all we've been reading is a description of a game of tennis, written in obscure language....
So here's to your good health!"