Or And Death
Yesterday I went all anti-god. Today, the other side gets its crack at it all. Constance Furey is a religious maven at Indiana University, a professor who has studied such wide-ranging topics as:
- Christianity in Early Modern Europe
- Friendship and community formation
- Devotional poetry
- Gender and Religious Subjectivity
Well, I’ll be damned (probably, for all the things I’ve done) but C. Furey sure as hell ain’t no prim old priest wagging her finger at us. Add to that the fact that I have no idea if she’s even a pious sort — hell, she could be a interested in religion simply for the academic exercise of it all. I mean, one doesn’t go around pestering others with Qs like Do you believe in god?, How much?, What do you pray about?, etc.
Anyway, she wrote of death and life in a piece that ran yesterday in a journal called The Immanent Frame. The online mag carries articles dealing with “religion, secularism and the public sphere.” Furey’s piece is part of a series of essays called “Is This All There Is” (sans the question mark, I’d assume, by design). Constance’s foray touches on the deaths of her parents and relates them to a lesson she learned while, a small girl, watching the TV sitcom character Latka Gravas from Taxi.
I wonder if Constance was aware that for many years after his death, the man who played Latka Gravas — Andy Kaufman — was rumored to be alive and his purported passing merely an elaborate prank. Constance speculates on “the bright line” that may or may not exist between life and death. For a good five to ten years, Kaufman blurred that line so thoroughly it virtually disappeared.
I suppose now we can safely conclude that Kaufman is dead — but, again, what if the gag has come this far? What if he’s working in anonymity in some cafe, busing tables, just living, shorn of the onus of fame, the demands of celebrity, and the responsibility of constantly striking while the iron’s hot? Kaufman was known for slipping away and becoming just another face on the crowd even as his sitcom and his own star were ascendent. Can he have pulled off the trick for lo these 33 years?
If so, that’d mean he’s done something no other human ever has — he’s transformed himself, as it were, into Schrödinger’s cat.
Constance, in her way, suggests we may all be Schrödinger’s cat.
I think. Well, read the piece. It’s full of metaphysical supposition and inquiry and it’s chock-full of poetry (her own prose-poetry and the actual metricals of 17th Century versist Anne Bradstreet who, I have learned, was North America’s first published English-language poet).
Speaking Of Finger Wags…
Gov. Jerry Brown caught one from Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman yesterday. Apparently, he’d been speaking at the United Nations climate change summit in Bonn, Germany a few days ago when his talk was interrupted by protesters who chanted “Keep it in the ground!” The protesters were calling for California to ban fracking, something the state hasn’t done yet nor does it seem likely to. Many of the protesters were of Native American ancestry (the Dakota Access Pipeline protests of 2016 were led by Native Americans).
Brown, it seems, got a little hot when the protesters tried to drown him out. A recording of the exchange between him and the protesters went like this:
PROTESTERS: California’s fracking spreads pollution!
GOV. JERRY BROWN: Yeah, I wish…, I wish we could have no pollution, but we have to have our automobiles.
PROTESTERS: In the ground!
BROWN: In the ground.
PROTESTERS: In the ground!
BROWN: I agree with you — in the ground. Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here. Anyway….
Anyway, indeed. Goodman pointed out that telling a group of folks they ought to be put in the ground plays awfully rancid-ly when one considers that group’s forbears were holocaust-ed. Brown, for his part, said, essentially, the protesters were pissing him off.
In fact, he turned the finger-wagging around on her, scolding: “Now, Amy, don’t use your media outlet for this kind of silliness. That was an ironic remark in the face of a noisy demonstration when it’s very hard to even hear, much less keep your thought there.”
It was an unfortunate remark. No…, it was a stupid remark. But my fear is now good old Jerry Brown will be demonized by the very types of people who should be gathering around, behind, and in front of him in the fight against President Gag and the corporatization of the Democratic Party.
Jerry at that moment was an old geezer who’d decided he was in no mood at all to suffer loud interrupters. So he yelled, Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!
Truth be told, I’m getting awfully damed sick of these kinds of incidents being the story rather than what’s really happening in our holy land today.
And another thing — lost in the snappishness was Brown’s line, “we have to have our automobiles.” It’s all of us — including the protesters — who demand cheap fossil fuel for our lighting and heating and clothes washing and plastic-making and getting from here to there. We, protesters included, are as culpable as the oil company execs in turning our little whirling spaceball into a hot marble.
Until we all grasp that, we aren’t going to get any farther along than to harrumph about a cranky old bird’s stupid remark.