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A couple of days ago I went out and bought the Book of Allusions-or, as most people know it, The Bible. I’m still not converting, I just figured it was time I finally started catching and understanding the allusions that seem to run abound (N.B. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner; Cattle & The Creeping Things” by The Hold Steady; The Quick and the Dead; Revelations by Audioslave, etc.). In fact, I’m not even out of Genesis yet and I’ve already found something that makes me all the more convinced that I should remain a Buddhist.

I actually had to call my college roommate to make sure I bought the right Bible-I wanted the most scholarly copy available-so I own a copy called the NRSV. Hopefully that explains why the quote below doesn’t quite match up with what the snake says in your copy of the PQRST.

Right before Eve commits the Original Sin, the snake says, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Thus, according to both your version of LMNOP and my version of the NRSV, the greatest mistake humans ever made in the past five thousand years was finally deciding to understand the difference between good and evil. Also, we made a terrible mistake deciding to become more like God, but that straight up doesn’t make any sense because we’ve become less God-like since then. Or so you think-follow me on this one.

Right after the Original Sin is made, Adam, Eve and their descendants live for fewer and fewer years with each generation. That is, as time goes on, instead of “coming to know their wives” around age 145, all the kids start making kids at an earlier age. Life expectancy decreased as time went on, but if we look at what has been happening in the past hundred years or so, there has been a sharp increase in life expectancies (nearly) worldwide. This would suggest, within the definitions provided by your copy of the ABCDE, that the world we live in-contrary to what your television pastor says-is actually the most Godly world that has existed in quite some time; perhaps the Godliest since the cavemen.

If this is indeed the Godliest time to be alive, then how do good and evil fit into that world? I feel like that knowledge has become pretty much essential to our existence and to our progress. What’s bad? Cancer. Aids. Syphilis. Polio. Advice. Freedomland. Terrorism. What’s good? A healthy diet. Clean (and Running) Water. Books. Advice. Music. Laughter. Amoxicillin. The Departed. Patriotism. Even with in my definitions of good and evil, there’s a gray area that continues to define life. One person’s patriotism may be another person’s terrorism but at the end of the day, we have the ability to make conscious decisions as to who we want to be.

I will admit, although we seem to be making some kind of progress, I don’t ever want to become immortal and I never want to go to heaven. If heaven is some kind of huge playground where there’s no good or evil (and thus, no decisions), how am I supposed to enjoy myself? Heaven sounds like a bland, brainless existence where Reality TV is always on, meals are always soggy Oatmeal and my shirts are always bathed in drool. If I wanted that, I’d already have quit my job and attempted to rack up some sweet bed sores.

I get the impression that the closest I will ever get to my own personal heaven (nirvana, etc.) on this earth is music, quite possibly from a little-heard-of genre called the blues. The blues are the most primal, instinctual and basic building blocks of every good genre of music, if not every modern genre (take that, classical lovers). There are pretty much three narratives you can write-x loves y, x loves y but y does not love x back, or x loves inanimate object c (perhaps the most creative mode since it allows for metaphors, etc.)-and all three were pioneered and perfected by blues and copied and rearranged by every other genre. Except maybe classical because it has no lyrics and country because it shouldn’t have lyrics and is just whiny singing accompanied by music stolen from folk which is stolen from blues. Rock at least assimilated (N.B. Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, et al). Sometimes there’s nothing left to do but to dig down to that place where you feel like nothing but an absolute and complete piece of shit to understand the times when the world is yours. You can have your Hakuna Matata moment off at the oasis, it’s just…you have to get over the fact that you didn’t kill Mufasa. But country music did.

If we’re supposed to live without that, to live without a moral compass or without even a simple understanding of basic ethics, then I have no idea how to live my life. An Oscar-winning movie once said, “Death is easy. Life is hard.” With that in mind, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll live another 50 years and the last thing I want to do is live it perfectly. I already know I can’t-why else would I decorate my room with books?-but I know I have to listen to myself more.

So maybe someday 75 years in the future I’ll be able to look back and say two things: “Holy shit! I’m still alive? I’m 97! I can’t feel anything below my waist!” and “Thank [Universal Being? Basic Physics? Jimmy Neutron?] I read the NSRV (instead of the HIJK) and embraced my life and, in my later years, started to take a bunch of drugs that have kept me alive, but now that I’ve seen my great-grandkids and spoiled the shit out of my sister’s kids, I can probably die fulfilled. I’ve lived a good life. I’ll be back soon, hopefully not as a grasshopper. Anything but a grasshopper-I don’t want to get squashed on a windshield in Idaho when I’m a day old.”

Until I can say those things, thank you, all of sophomore year in college; the 20 or so girls I’ve dated or attempted to date, but mostly the brain cells I’ve lost after you all uttered, “Let’s just be friends;” night I told my parents I’d had drinks before I was of age; pornography, video games and White Russians. Thank you for helping me understand the pure, unadulterated awesome of things like watching my sister make or be near art, headphones, chatting with my grandmother, literature, Gibson SGs, making jokes with my Mom and having cynic sessions with my Dad. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping me understand what it means to be alive and why I want to continue to be alive.

But in the meantime, Evil, a favor-can you just kill me at age 97 with a simple, quick, Grade 6 Cerebral Aneurysm? Alzheimer’s is kind of number one on my “Scariest Ways to Die” list because it leaves me with no memory of how good it was to be alive.

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2 Comments

  1. I always thought tasting the fruit was a euphemism for carnal knowledge.

  2. Well, it seems pretty literal–she actually eats the apple and at a later date “comes to know” Adam so they can make some kids. “Tasting the fruit” is pretty clearly a euphemism for carnal knowledge, but I don’t think it’s actually in Genesis.


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