|Dr. Robert Puff|
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Issue #1293 - Thursday, December 19, 2002 - Editor: Jerry
from Live Journal
I was born during a Hurricane. I came out backwards with my
open and they knew I was going to be a prophet. My mama was a
mountain lion and my daddy was a grizzly bear. I can drink more
liquor and chew more tobacco than any man alive. I once got so
hungry I ate a whole cow.
You know the moment in Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan
Ivan says something to the effect of "how could I think I was going
up my whole life when I was actually going down?" I live with the
hope that my continued debasement of the human condition... my
remarkable capacity to not do anything with my life... is in fact
moving me closer and closer to the Godhead. Perhaps, when my time
comes, I will, instead, be saying, "how can it be that I am
enlightened, my whole life I thought I was just looking towards the
See You in the Next World, and Don't Be Late
As my life progresses it's pretty obvious that the path I'm on
not the straight and narrow one. I may not be a ghastly sinner, but
were I to find myself in the Massachusetts Bay Colony circa 1650
nobody would mistake me for one of the "elect." This wasn't always
the case. As a child I was pretty righteous. No more. Now I have to
sing "Amazing Grace" backwards. You know, "I once was found but now
am lost, could see but now am blind."
My thoughts have turned to the afterlife and the different
consequences articulated by the major religions for those who've
blown it in this life. I thought that I would share some of the
fruits of my meditation with the LiveJournal community.
What if the Hindus Are Right? Looks like I'm still in trouble.
can't meditate or do yoga. Put me in the corpse pose and I start
thinking about one of three things:
1. My butt sweat
2. The butt sweat of the nicest looking woman in the room
3. What's on television at that moment
I may not be an expert, but I'm pretty sure none of those
meditations are going to break the wheel of samsara. I eat meat, am
a firm believer in onions and garlic, and have a bad relationship
with cows and other sacred animals. If I were a betting man, which
I am, my guess is that I will die in what the Bhagavad Gita calls a
"state of ignorance." Having failed to inquire about my higher,
non-physical, nature I will be compelled by the laws of karma to
continue in the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth for at least one
How bad will it be? My first thoughts ran in the vein of
"what if I
come back as a seahorse?!" but then I thought, "you should be so
lucky." On my current trajectory I probably won't make it out of
the first three biological kingdoms.
Even if you restrict the possibilities to the first three
it doesn't look that bad, really. Looks a hell of a lot better than
Hell, that's for damn sure. Right now I'm hoping that the people on
the Indian sub-continent are barking up the right tree. Here's my
If I Were Reborn in the Kingdom Monera
(bacteria and viruses, more or less)
1. Get to be one of the "oldest" organisms on Earth
2. Might not need oxygen to survive (annaerobic exercise a joke)
3. Can "Pass Gas" through your cell wall
4. May be an "photosynthetic autotroph" -- able to make sugar out of sunlight!
5. Three different kinds of "sex"
6. Reproduce by division (porn = mirror)
1. Could spend entire life cycle in a pig's intestine
2. May be a "saprobe" that lives on dead organisms
3. Could spend life cycle in a "thermal vent" at the bottom of the ocean
4. Not really capable of moving on your own, got to "go with the flow"
5.Could end up as one of the following: botulism, diphtheria,
gangrene, leprosy, plague, tetanus, or tuberculosis
If I Were Reborn in the Kingdom Protista
(single cell organisms)
1. Still have chance to "get energy from sun"
2. Might get chance to eat other protists
3. Might have "cilia" or "flagella" and thus be able to move on my own
4. Gas exchange by "diffusion"
5. Capable of hibernating for thousands of years
1. A lot of asexual reproduction
2. Could be eaten by other protists
3. Might be a Paramecium or Ameba and, therefore, could end up having to go to Biology class
4. May have a "small" flagella
5. Have to keep wastes in an "organelle" and then expell it when full (uugh!)
If I Were Reborn in the Kingdom Fungi
Fungi are called the "hidden kingdom" for although they have some
characteristics of plants and others of animals what makes them
special is often not seen. What we see of fungi (the mushrooms,
etc.) are just the fruit. The real gut of the organism is the
"mycelium" which is made up of tiny filaments (hyphae) that may
cover several acres. Fungi feed by absorbing nutrients from around
them, but since they have no stomach they must break matter down
externally before the hyphae can absorb it. They do this by
excreting enzymes. From my perspective, this "external digestion"
sounds pretty good. It's hard for "junk food" to do you a bad turn
if it is broken down outside of your body, right? Other pros about
2. Might be able to "turn people on"
3. Cell walls are made of chitin -- the same stuff insects are made from
4. Might end up in beer!
1. Might be detected by pigs
2. Could end up as soup, in a can, jarred, or on a steak
4. Sex involves just shooting spores in the air (not another lifetime of that!)
5. Have to put up with kids saying "There's fungus among us"
Books I Wouldn't Mind Writing
The Tao of Pooh is a very successful book based on the
concept of having a children's book character explain a major
religion. The author, Benjamin Hoff, uses Pooh, the village idiot
of Christopher Robin's fantasy world, to illustrate the wisdom of
Lao Tsu, a Chinese man who worked in a library for most of his
In case there are any publishers out there, I would like to
my willingness to shamelessly copy the concept of this book and
produce one, two, or even a series of volumes in which major
philosophical, religious, and political manifestos are investigated
using the example of a cartoon or literary character.
|The Mein Kampf of Daffy Duck||Daffy's egomania, paranoia, and suicidal impulses are used to illustrate and examine the social theories of Adolf Hitler and his dream of a Reich.|
|The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Cat in the Hat||When faced with the Zen koan "Why does the Buddha come from the East?," The cat replies "It's fun to have fun but you gotta know how," which all of the monks in the ashram recognize as the answer of an enlightened cat .|
|The Homer Manifesto||The relationship of Mr. Burns and Homer Simpson is used to illustrate the inherent struggle between those who own the means of production -- namely, a nuclear power plant -- and those who do not.|
|Magilla Gorilla and the Documents of Vatican II||From the confines of his window in a pet store, Magilla explains natural law, ecclesiology, Christology, and the impact of modern biblical scholarship on our contemporary understanding of both Christian and Hebrew scripture. Through a careful examination of the documents generated by the Second Vatican Council, Magilla is able to demonstrate why Ogee is unfit for the priesthood (but can, nevertheless, contribute to the church in other ways), and how Mr. Peebles, a Protestant, should be considered a christian brother even though his is not a member of the one, true, church.|
|Mowgli and the Origin of the Species||Kipling's great character describes natural selection and the Law of the Jungle.|
|The Vendanta of Babar||The most intellectual and sophisticated of cartoon characters takes on the complexity of modern Hindu theology.|
|The Eight Fold Path of Ferdinand||Seems pretty obvious, the symbol of strength and virility rejects the warrior life his father planned for him and instead sits beneath a flowering tree in a state of bliss.|
|The Moronic Dialogues||Butthead illustrates that Beavis has an innate knowledge of geometry by having him extrapolate the surface area of a pizza box from the dimensions of a single nacho. Then Butthead explains the allegory of the cave by saying "shadows are cool."|
In Hell They Eat Mayonnaise
Theologians like St. Augustine spent a lot of time arguing out the particulars of the "neo-platonic metaphysic," which, as best as I can reckon, was essentially a list of beings ranked according to their relative divinity. The great ontological ranking system ran from God (being) down to Satan (non-being) with cherubim, seraphim, archangles, angels, humans and horses in between. The celestial hierarchy, in case you didn't know, goes like this:
I've listed it from highest to lowest. Traditionally, it would
be listed from lowest to highest. That's because preceding
generations generally started with what they knew and worked up.
Today, we're obsessed with who's on top, and I didn't want to
To the medieval mind, everything could be understood in terms of hierarchy. This tradition, in a denuded incarnation, comes to us in the form of lists, like the list of the "10 sweatiest cities" that The New York Times recently published.
Magazines love lists. Lists sell. People buy and read lists because they want to know where they stand. Did I go to a mediocre or completely worthless college? Is my car the safest or just the safest mid-sized sedan in lumpenprolitariet price range? Faced with an existential dilemma, hierarchies may help us to figure out where we fit in the universe. It is with th in mind, that I give you:
Mr. Mildew's Metaphysic of Condiments
|Please remember, this isn't a list. This is supposed to be an hierarchy of being. When faced with questions that are religious in nature, I like to ask "what would Jesus do?" In this case, the question is perhaps better phrased as "If given a lamb hot dog, or whatever you would give a carpenter's son in fist century Palestine, what would he probably put on it?" My guess is mustard. Jesus liked mustard seeds and trees, and you wouldn't figure it was the leaves he was fond of, right? Given that salt is thrown out of the competition because it isn't a condiment, that leaves mustard as the food item with the most entries in the biblical concordance. Mustard is healthy. Mustard has flavor. Jesus was Jewish, right? When it comes to brand selection, I think If he came back today he would eat French's. Jesus was a simple guy. He didn't have a lot of money. "French's is fine," sayeth the Lord.|
|You put new wine in new wine skins, and the old wine
you use to make vinegar. Well, the Christian scriptures
don't say that but when faced with modern problems we
biblical scholars like to extrapolate what might be
intended by the canonical texts. In fact, there's a lot
about Vinegar that didn't make it into the canon. Some of
the gnostic gospels, that were declared heretical and
suppressed for centuries, had a lot to say about vinegar.
One, found in an ancient cave that was obviously used for
Roman mystery cults prior to its enculturation as a
Christian shrine says, roughly translated, "don't
use too much or it will give you aggida."
|Why is taco sauce third? Well, sometimes figuring out the order of being isn't an exact science. All I know is that there's no biblical reference to taco sauce, so it has to be lower than vinegar, and it's definitely closer to God than salsa. Why? Because there's a lot of evidence that simplicity is holy. You know, "Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be plain." Well, taco sauce is simple compared to salsa, and Old El Paso taco sauce is about as plain as it gets.|
|Remember, the metaphysic runs from "being" to "non-being." God is the "Ground of Being," Satan is "non-existence." That's why the "wages of sin are death." So, condiments that get you closer to death are clearly further away from God than healthy condiments. Given the options, salsa is pretty healthy, right? No fat. Not too much sugar and salt. Shouldn't be a problem. Unless you scoop it up with an evil tortilla chip.|
|Relish has less being than salsa, so it ranks lower in the metaphysic. Relish is salsa for white people. Relish was fine up to the point that Europeans discovered that Tomatoes weren't poisonous. After that, you have to wonder why one would go to the trouble of dicing up pickles and onions. Why not just eat pickles and onions? That's what St. Gerkin, the patron saint of pickling, used to do.|
|You think I ranked soy sauce so low because I don't like the Japanese. Well, O.K., maybe I did, but I'll try to make an argument anyway. Remember how I said salt would be high on the list but it can't be because salt is not a condiment? Well, that high estimation of salt was based on the fact that Jesus instructed us to be "the salt of the earth." To get around the "hard sayings" in the bible, you use a technique known to scholars as "contextualization." We have to understand Jesus in the context of the semi-barbaric culture he belonged to. First century Rabbis knew a lot, but they didn't know what salt does to your arteries. So, we have to contextualize Jesus's high regard for salt and that allows us to go ahead and say "salt is bad." You should only be the salt of the Earth in a figurative sense. Soy sauce, we all know, is liquid salt that the Japanese use to flavor whale blubber. How did I do?|
|Not sure what this stuff really is, but it was developed by the same people who gave us the "Book of Common Prayer," the "St. James" Bible, and the Hymm "Abide With Me (eventide)", so it's got to be O.K.|
|The problem with Barb-B-Que sauce is that it is closely associated with pork. If there is one food that God is not keen on, it's Pig. As far as I can figure it, of the world's great religions only two, Buddhism and Christianity, let you eat pig, and last time I was at the Zendo there wasn't any bar-b-que sauce. The Texans among you will say, "we use barb-b-que sauce on beef". Which is true, but only because Texas doesn't support large pig herds. If pigs could live on sagebrush, the university of Texas would have a Yorkshire Hog as its mascot.|
|Hotsauce is healthy. Hotsauce is fun. Why is hot sauce so far from God? Well, sometimes when you lay down with dogs you get fleas. It seems that hot sauce manufacturers can't keep away from the demonic imagery. They keep using "Hell" and "Devil" as marketing slogans and it just makes you wonder. Put it this way, if a murderous biker walked into a diner in the middle of the desert and ordered a burrito, which condiment do you think he would pick? You think he would go for the mustard?|
|Almost to the bottom. The insidious false prophet of ketchup. The Pharisee of condiments. Seems wholesome. Seems American. Why, it's almost like salsa. Not! For these three transgressions and the forth I will not revoke the punishment, for you, Oh ketchup, are an abomination in my sight. Ketchup is sugar and salt masquerading as a condiment. It is the deceiver. Unhealthy. A processed paste passed off as a vegetable.|
|This kills me. When I first had this idea I wanted Queen Mayonnaise on the top. It's my favorite. My one last true vice. But this list is not just some silly magazine ranking intended to keep people reading Mr. Mildew's journal. This is supposed to be a serious theological investigation. And faith, illuminated by reason, puts Ms. Mayo at the bottom of the order. Mayonnaise can kill. It has the whiteness of the whale. It's the only feminine condiment, and you know what the medieval mind makes of feminine things. So soft, so light, so fine. It is, in a word, too pleasurable. We must forsake the flesh to achieve the divine. Fellow Jansenists, pass me the mustard!|
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|Dr. Robert Puff|