12 June 2016

Living, blessedness, heaven, the sun and more

Dear diary,

I feel that there are vaguely three ways of being: you’re either too busy, or you’re bored waiting, or you’re blissed out. If you feel too busy, it’s because you’re doing what you don’t want to be doing. If you feel bored waiting, it’s because you’re…

No, none of those labels are helpful or interesting to anyone. Time flies when you’re having fun. That’s all that counts: that time is flying. But you can’t recognize that you’re truly in the midst of delight until it’s over—is that correct? Because the delight should be so strong that you lack a spare jot of cognizance to reflect on the fact.

No, that’s not right either. Otherwise plants would be heaven. Or cockroaches or amoebas… or bacteria. I’m trying to think of simple lifeforms that my prejudice tells me possess no knowledge of their blessedness.

“Blessed” is a synonym for “happy.” So when someone says “God bless you,” it’s like saying “God happy you” or “I pressure The LORD to happify your dilemma” (for I assume we’re all in a mess, we the living), unless I’m wrong about this. Also “happy” is a synonym for “lucky”; and I’ve always taken the word “God” as a personification of luck; so “God bless you,” sounds to me like “May luck infest you and make you more like it.” Now the lyric “Luck be a lady tonight,” as far as I can tell, is absent from my copy of the Bible; but I learned from Harold Bloom’s commentary in The Book of J (p. 291) that William Tyndale’s translation of Genesis 39:2 begins

The Lorde was with Joseph, and he was a luckie felowe.

Using the initial J to stand for the author of this part of the scripture, and the name Yahweh to refer to The LORD of the book of Genesis, Bloom further explains:

To be a lucky fellow is to be a charismatic, imbued with a strong touch of Yahweh’s own passionate vitality. Vitality can be defined as the prime characteristic of J’s Yahweh, since all life whatsoever has been brought into being by him. He stands beyond sexuality, as he stands beyond men and women, because he created human sexuality when he created both a man and a woman.

Also, though I wasn’t thinking of this when I wrote above that “otherwise plants would be heaven,” the word paradise actually does refer to a pleasure garden. So plants are heaven indeed, but not in quite the same way that my sweetheart means it when she cries out “This ice cream is heaven.”

The history begins with the Avestan (the eastern dialect of Old Iranian) word pairi-daēza–, “enclosure,” made up of pairi, “around,” and daēza–, “wall.”

That’s a direct quotation from a physical, hardbound dictionary. I copied even the hyphens and en dashes perfectly. So the word for our notion of heaven comes from an ancient compound noun that means “enclosure-wall.” And also the same dictionary lists two other etymological equivalents (ultimately from the Greek paradeisos): “garden” and “enclosed park.”

This intrigues me, because I spend so much of my life ambling around at parks. Anyone who has thumbed through the electronic pages of this weblog knows that I’m not lying about this claim: I’ve talked about parks quite a lot. Now, whereas my walking companion (my sweetheart) loves the sunshine, I myself prefer shade, and to stroll in the early morning or the evening.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…

That’s from Genesis (3:8)—I love the KJV translators’ weird use of the word “voice” here. And these next verses are from John Milton’s Paradise Lost (4:32).

O thou that with surpassing Glory crownd,
Look’st from thy sole Dominion like the God
Of this new World; at whose sight all the Starrs
Hide thir diminisht heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy Spheare…

And now I wonder: What if our planet’s source of light really is an imposter, or some counterfeit of a far more glorious forerunner?

John the Baptist preceded Jesus of Nazareth. And “Father Abraham” preceded either of them. But Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) If it’s best to be early, then the manual typewriter trounces the modern touchscreen. So which is better: to send a text message or talk into the telephone? Would you rather speak with your voice or type with your fingers? In days long gone, the directory of phone numbers known as the Yellow Pages advertised itself with the slogan “let your fingers do the walking,” apparently because its logo—two digits of a hand paging through an opened volume—resembled a deity strolling in the park. Yet if your voice is doing the walking, which direction is its travel? To the future? To the past? Or perhaps we’re all just “spinning wheels”: cruising in place…

Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. (Ezekiel 1:20)

If the moonwalk is a dance move in which the performer progresses backwards while appearing to step forwards, then why not sunwalk?

Under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. (Ibid, 23-24)

P.S.

Crosswise from our apartment exists a movie theater. This theater’s twin-sided marquee is installed so that only one of its faces is visible to us outsiders. The face that tells what films are playing is angled away from the street: one must physically enter its parking lot in order to read what is written there; and this is something that I am unwilling to do; so all I have ever seen is the side that looks outward, which never changes (it has remained the same for the quarter of a century that I’ve lived here) — this face reveals only the prices of popcorn and soda.

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