Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Smell Dead People

If there is a God or a force or a higher power, or whatever, who really cares?

I mean---I like the Quakers who are all, “God is in all of us.” Which really means, you know, we are the important ones.

Or I don’t even know. Though, I do feel like it is a miracle I am here at all, as well as the other people I spend time with, and don’t spend time with.

Such a cool thing, to be here, to breathe, to fill out forms, to sleep, to acquire, to lose, to listen, to eat, to wonder, to play music, to watch, to feel awful. And then you die. And people are so upset (me included, absolutely) about that notion: the end is near. Then there’s the agony of the void and not knowing what that is.

But basically, what the hell is so wrong with not knowing? I mean, if you love a few people or things or animals, that’s God or heaven enough. Why bother even thinking about religion? It’s just an ape-man relic. If you’re a smart guy, you spend your time figuring out new things. Like how to build a better mouse trap, iPhone or jet pack.

So with the Hitchens death, what I find so curious is how a man that intelligent spent any time at all on this subject of religion. If he was so sure that there was no meddling God, no hocus pocus, then why did he not just toodle off onto another subject?

Of course, I am being reductive and bloggy, so let me stop the typing and go to Al Gore’s internet and find a little something from Hitchens’ final days.

Here it is, below. The clip lands on the Enlightenment. I have to agree with his pitch. So that’s why he did it. Great thing, the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment went into the making of this country. It informed the founding fathers. It changed Europe. It made us more scientific. Bernstein/Sondheim/others wrote the musical. A joy, really. And Voltaire, as its novelist-marketeer, was funny. So why didn’t more people sign up for the Enlightenment?

Fear. Fear of change. Fear.

And as I always like to point out about fear---which is basically fear of death—why are we (and by we I mean me) so afraid of dying? I mean, there were all those years you were not alive before you were born, yet somehow, not being alive all those pre-years doesn’t seem to bother people. “Oh man, I’m so upset, I was not on earth in 1952.” So why a mess about 2092 when 1952 has already come and gone and you were pretty much in the same state then that you’ll be in the future? And you survived.

There is no time, anyway. And you had little say in your arrival and will have no say in your departure. Just go love someone and stop worrying so much.

I don’t know Hitchens’ feelings about love. But certainly, he enjoyed himself, his impulses, his thoughts, his writing, his imbibing, his appearances and his successes. Of course he did. And enjoyment is the easiest going form of love.

Hitchens was a big help in getting people to think about the foolishness of religion and to aid in their release of the silliness of all this culturally imposed magical thinking. In his small-big way. It would have been much more fun if he had been much more fun. His pomposity and his anger were, well, they were in the way. But I understand he needed both—the first to protect his position, the second for propulsion. With all his rationality, he did not figure out how to squelch his vanity and ego---which fed his addictions and ultimately killed him. But I accept all that. I must. I haven't come close to squelching my own ego and vanity and people in glass bathrobes shouldn't throw waffles...

Almost no one gets it exactly right. Except maybe Jesus. Happy birthday, baby. ;)

And now for the man who, you know, is totally dead, not with the angels, done, kaput, finished. Good thing we invented cameras.

Sidebar: I once said to a friend in Los Angeles who was going through a rough divorce and a whole lot of other horrors while we waxed on about spirituality as people on the Pacific rim tend to do in soft, lovely ways, “I think when you die, it’s just nothing. It’s just, nothing, it’s over.”
And she said, “Wouldn’t that be great?”

Hitchens, it’s over. Long live Hitchens.

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