Friday, July 28, 2006

Why are the Earth Monkeys so Out of Control? Answer Hazy, Click Again.

This is interesting. Amazon finally added the "search inside this book” feature to my book, so now the curious and sample-minded but fiscally prudent among you can actually see what it looks like and sample a few pages--the back cover, the table of contents, the first six pages, and a “surprise page," which turns out to be page... no, wait a minute. I just discovered that a different page comes up each time you click on “surprise me!” That’s surprising. I had no idea. I always thought it was just one page.

You know what this means, don't you? It means that you can now use this function as a sort of “magic eight ball” to answer any cosmic or personal question you might have. You won’t need me anymore. Just approach your computer screen in a humble and submissive manner with head bowed--don’t intitially make eye contact with the screen. Meditate on your question while clicking on “surprise me,” and repeat the mantra, “Oh Petey, merciful and compassionate, [insert some sort of heartfelt blessing here], if it wouldn’t inconvenience you terribly, what is the answer I seek?”

Here, I’ll try it now. Let’s think of a question, something everyone wants to know the answer to.... Okay, how about, “What’s going to happen in the damn Middle East? Is this really WWIII?”

“Oh Petey, merciful and compassionate, panties be upon your enemies, if it wouldn’t inconvenience you terribly, what is the answer we seek?”

Click.

Page 73! Hmm. Hmmmm. Interesting. Very interesting. Let me just say that Petey sometimes works in mysterious and oblique ways that not everyone is going to understand. Perhaps some day you will understand, but not now. Nothing personal, but frankly, you may not even be worthy of knowing the answer just yet. Either way, the connection to your question will not always be obvious. Petey is not going to just hand you the truth on a silver platter. You probably couldn’t handle it anyway. You will first need to demonstrate that you are a worthy receptacle of truth. Hell, I don't know, you may even need to buy the book. That's between you and him.

But just in case there are some bugs in the system, let me try it again, same question. “Oh Petey, mirthful but curmudgeonate vertical ambassadoor, may a diseased yak squat in the sock drawer of your corner imam, if it wouldn’t inconvenience you royally, will you throw us a freaking bone and give us the answer we humbly seek?”

Mmmm, very interesting. Petey is showing us the settings on God’s Mixing Board, located on page 35. These are the narrow restrictions placed on every mathematical variable that governs the universe in order for a lawful and ordered, and yet unpredictable and evolving cosmos to exist. Knowing Petey as I do, I believe he is hinting that there is a similar but unknown mixing board that governs psychohistorical evolution. In the West, it took us hundreds and thousands of years to find those settings, e.g., free markets, democracy, individual liberty, science, rule of law, female literacy, humane child-rearing practices, the Bo Diddley beat, etc.

Unfortunately, the psycho-cultural console in the Muslim Middle East is completely out of whack. Just look at it--female literacy is set at only three, child-rearing at one. Liberty is at two, and in most places democracy is zero. But anti-Semitism is at freaking eleven. Apparently, this war is about recalibrating the dysfunctional Islamic consoul in order to set conditions that make historical, psychological, and cultural progress possible.

Thank you, Petey. May a love-starved fruit-fly molest the nectarines of your enemy's sister.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but if any of you out there are particularly lazy or cheap, or just don’t like reading, you could probably get the whole drift of the book if you just read and meditate on the Table of Contents very slowly and patiently. You will notice that each chapter is mysteriously titled, e.g., “Cosmogenesis: The Gospel of Matter,” or “Biogenesis: The Testimony of Life.” Meditate on these, as well as the cryptic subheadings, which include a short little quotation that tells the cosmic story with even more outlearndish bobfuscation.

If you read and deeply understand each of the quotations--provided you truly do so on a deep level--then you can probably skip the book. For example, this one, about the Big Bang, from Robert Wright: “In the beginning was, if not a word, then a sequence of encoded information of some sort.” Or this one, from Leo Tolstoi, regarding psychological development: “From the child of five to myself is but a step. But from the newborn baby to the child of five is an appalling distance.” Or this statement of theoretical biology: “Our universe is not contingent at all, but a necessary consequence of the fact that we are alive.”

Or how about this one--you can pretty much sum up the endless notmore! of human history with a single sentence: “This was a very nice neighborhood until the monkeys got out of control.” Of course, if you want to know why the monkeys are so out of control, you’ll have to read the book. And if you do go to the trouble, bless you. May a weird new-age holy man dangle his shrivelled figs into your mother-in-law's bisque.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Mary said...

Go ahead! Take the plunge and buy Bob's book. Come on in; the water's warm.

7/28/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Yes, Bob may be all wet, but at least the water's warm.

7/28/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

Oh yes, quite a bit of shrivelled fig dangling going on among weird new agers out there.

7/28/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't even want to think about Deepak Chopra's shrivelled figs. But I wouldn't mind if he dangled them in some scalding soup.

7/28/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Fergus the Cat said...

Everybody, read the book or I will show up in your dreams and shed all over them. Nightly.

7/28/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mmm, thank you Fergus. May a moist hairball show up in your owner's corn flakes if he forgets to leave the radio on for you when he goes out for his pilate's class.

7/28/2006 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Bob,
This comment is off-topic. I have noticed you quoting Whitehead a few times and wondered what your opinion is of process theology in general, and if you have seen the debate in book form between traditionalist apologist Huston Smith and D.R. Griffin (a process theologian)--"Primordial Truth and Postmodern Theology"? I just began reading it myself.

7/28/2006 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Joseph--

I would say that process theology used to appeal to me very much, but that I have since then found greater metaphysical, not to mention experiential, depth in tradition. My book reflects this path somewhat, as it begins with natural theology but evolves beyond it.

Still, people such as Whitehead (whom I love) do an invaluable service by giving intelligent and sophisticated people a perfectly logical reason to believe in a deity. But in the end, it's a skeleton without flesh and blood, limited to the mind. You still need a religion in order to make it come alive, to move from (k) to O, as I put it in the book.

7/28/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Bob,
That makes sense, though, judging from some of the titles, Griffin, at least seems to agree (he appears to be a Christian). I am wondering if his critique of traditionalism is more or less the same as yours--guess I'll have to read it and see:)

7/28/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

You know, I don't really remember myself. I read a couple of Griffin's books back in the mid-1980's, such as "Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time," and they were very helpful in writing my dissertation. But the details escape me.

7/28/2006 03:39:00 PM  

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