The Canon ― Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel


Excerpt: Gargantua and Pantagruel, by François Rabelais

What do you think is become of the art of forcing the thunder and celestial fire down, which the wise Prometheus had formerly invented? ‘Tis most certain you have lost it; ’tis no more on your hemisphere; but here below we have it. And without a cause you sometimes wonder to see whole towns burned and destroyed by lightning and ethereal fire, and are at a loss about knowing from whom, by whom, and to what end those dreadful mischiefs were sent. Now, they are familiar and useful to us; and your philosophers who complain that the ancients have left them nothing to write of or to invent, are very much mistaken. Those phenomena which you see in the sky, whatever the surface of the earth affords you, and the sea, and every river contain, is not to be compared with what is hid within the bowels of the earth.

5.XLVII

St. Patrick’s: A Miserable New Tradition


Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished.  (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

Yet another holiday ruined.

In truth, there aren’t many holidays I enjoy celebrating with the rest of my society. I’m an American. Look at our big days. A couple of Christian days, three celebrations of genocide, and two borrowed cultural traditions we’ve managed to muck up into unrecognizable bacchinalia. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the latter.

I don’t mind the twist. I even look past the genocidal heritage, since we Americans don’t really care about all that and have our own chapters of morbid insanity to celebrate. St. Patty’s is a primarily a drinking holiday, like New Year’s Eve, MLK Day, and Cinco de Mayo.

And no, that wasn’t a joke about MLK Day.

Sorry. I wish it was.

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Question Time


With many thanks to Sean, a friend who pointed out this particular iteration of the morbid spectacle otherwise known as ¡Jesus’ fucking tits! Westboro Baptist Church―see Anna Merlan’s report for Jezebel about the latest Westboro wannabe Christianishesque clodhopping―a certain question arises, a reiteration that occasionally demands address:The Gumbys.

• Is it wrong that I only pay attention to WBC at all anymore because they’re like a comedy troupe performing a Christian version of The Aristocrats? I mean, it’s true: It was cruel of kids in my junior high to encourage the overweight, developmentally impaired kid to do stupid and humiliating things just so people could have a laugh. The Westboro heritage is similar; there is a tinge of guilt about paying attention to anything they do, as if we’re denigrating them just by watching.

Filters


Detail of frame from "Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor", episode 9, 'They Met One Day, Unexpectedly ...'.  L-R, Kiko Kayanuma, July, and Suou Pavlichenko discuss the profitability of a cat café versus more mundane work as a book editor, and Mao (lower right) hides in Suou's satchel.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Matthew 6.1-8 (RSV)

Prayer is certainly something to do if you cannot or will not do anything more useful.One starts to wonder what God’s spam filter looks like. In the age of social media, the great testament to humanity seems to be a flood of cat videos and calls to prayer.

One could simply sever ties with their friends who are religious, but that seems stupid to the point of bigotry, and, besides, it will do nothing about the cat videos.

No, really, do you realize cat videos are a cartoon joke? As with hikikomori, the shut-ins, anime jokes about the Japanese obsession with cats are a societal critique, as gentle a prod as possible to remind that something is amiss.

In these United States, we are starting to adopt the cat obsession, and while the idea of becoming a shut-in because one owned only one pair of trousers that fell out the window one day while drying so he decided to just never leave the house again―a context that probably makes much more sense to the Japanese―what, exactly, would the joke look like if it was about Americans and prayer?

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On T-Shirts, Bumper Stickers, and Grandparents


The question asserts itself, and then persists. And, you know, it’s weird how if we bother laughing it is because of the thought of a child being spoiled like that.Grandparenting-lie

But what the hell? We know it’s not actually a grandparent’s job to spoil a kid rotten, but what the hell is up with making them miserable?

And how does this work? Fatherhood is not the only perspective from which one is able to see a child about to absolutely fucking snap. We’re supposed to protect our children from the monsters of the world, not a grandmother who sees that tremble at the lip, that flush of the face, that tightening of the eyes in frustration at the thought that holy shit you mean everything on that page of homework is wrong? and follows her vaunted maternal instinct to push harder.

And we don’t even have to pick on infamous maternal instincts or women’s intuition. This just happens to be a specific manifestation of a general phenomenon, the sort of thing that says nothing about men and women, mothers and fathers, or anything like that. But if we’re so fucking wise, what’s the deal, then? What, you can’t read a face? Or is it that you just don’t give a damn?

You know, we teach kids these days to walk away instead of explode when the frustration builds like that.

It would probably be helpful to the lesson if we actually allowed them to do so.

Kitty Kitty Clickbait Christ


Religious clickbait.

A couple of things here.

First, stop with the clickbait, people. Sure, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and all that. A time and place for everything, you know? But even longtime friends, not just the newly-agreed Facebook friends, do this to each other, and it has to stop.

To wit, there is some video going around of some dude absolutely mangling Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, and doing so for the honor of Christ.

Okay, that’s not fair. I haven’t watched the video. And I won’t.

Why? Because when people send you a link via social media and instead of the actual content they’re sending you to an advert page with more clickbait for the website, that’s simply it. Strike one, and this particular form of stupid shit is out.

Which in turn brings us to stupid shit.

You know how every year we hear FOX News and a bunch of pastors reeling under the magnitude of their own perceived inadequacy complaining each year about a “War on Christmas”? Okay, so here’s the deal: To the one, it’s not a “War on Christmas” if people simply aren’t giving one religion a privileged place in our society and laws over another, and so far neither the FOX News crowd nor the self-loathing religious activists are prepared to indict the Bill of Rights as a conspirator to this so-called “War on Christmas”.

To the other, Christians need to stop declaring war on good taste.

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Sometimes It Just Works


Inevitable humor in a merchandise display at Barnes & Noble, Woodinville, Washington, 28 November 2014. (Photo by bd)

Every once in a while, inevitable humor just happens to coincide with one’s mood. That nexus of circumstance is the difference between this sort of thing being mildly amusing or just annoying enough to make one cuss beneath his breath. On this occasion, the merchandise arrangement at a Barnes & Noble had everything it needed, though in this case the one factor that makes the joke work is beyond the control of any hapless employee who figured it would be negligent, even counterproductive, to skip the obvious. One would not be surprised, indeed, if these were the merchandising instructions. But with comedy, timing is everything, and yes, in those days ‘twixt Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is also more generous. Besides, it’s all more decent than I would be. You know, Keep calm and go f―

That is to say, er … um … ah … as we were saying.

Right.

Carry on, then.