We don’t know much about God. Indeed, there are many among us who make it a point to know even less — until they are proud, damned proud, to know nothing at all. Once they achieve this brainfade, they encourage the rest of us to follow suit in a paroxysm of self-willed ignorance. Today there are fresh new scriptures attesting to this revelation. There are traveling preachers of this gospel. There are even congregations, support groups, jewelry, and t-shirts. It’s a religion. Of sorts. A religion in which you collectively as individuals agree to worship Zero, and to carry the gospel to others. Seems like a waste of life to me.
This marvel of contemporary capitalism — a hotel that takes its patrons far out of reach of any competition — has no peer when it comes to simultaneously suspending and extending time. At sea, the ship’s clock is all there is and its pendulum pulses exceedingly slow. After a day or so, you exist in this world with either way too much time or outside of time altogether. Either way the first thing to leave your mind and judgment is your mind and judgment. This is hardly noticed by most since management has arranged for a host of activities so mindless that you will be convinced for days that you are actually in possession not only of your mind, but in your right one at that. It is only when the credit card bills arrive long after you are at home that you will realize what you have done to yourself.
My bony white hands, their blood frozen by the bitter winter frost were clutching to the steering wheel like a helpless man gripping the edge of a cliff, desperately holding on picturing his fate.
There were present long files of soldiers in their holidayattire; there were many associations, with their mottoed banners; there were lodges andgrand lodges, in white aprons and blue scarfs; there were miles of citizens from thetowns and the country round about; there were two hundred gray-haired men, remnants of thedays of the Revolution.
The more glitzy chain branches remain open, scattered through the city’s middle-class enclaves. Many of this world’s more famous bookstores have hollowed out in this way. Most started as serious publishers, more than a century ago. (Ferozsons began thus in the 1890s, and still publishes in English and Urdu.) They discover that selling other people’s books is more remunerative. The imprint gives the retail brand cachet; the store becomes a landmark. Then, with the metastasis of modern half-education, it opens those branches. It is a business model that has, only recently, begun to fail. The big main branch with its big overheads is first to close, then the little candles snuff one by one. For the chain stores are mere utilities; each carries the same shortlist of (mostly lurid) bestsellers, now available cheaper from Amazon. They become magazine shops, and coffee shops, and trinket shops, and anything but book shops. They hire people who know nothing about books. By the time they terminate, there seems no cause for mourning.
An afternoon longer than eternity squared ensued. Our father did get home and subsequently gave instructions to my brother and myself, in turns, on why it was a bad idea to have a fist fight over chocolate chip cookies in his house. He reminded us both of his first and only commandment, “Thou shalt not upset thy mother.” It was a lesson that is “seared, SEARED!, into my memory.”
After all, if You were God and were going to create and run an entire universe, You wouldn’t really want to be running around it all the time doing hands-on alterations on everything from quarks to galaxies. Micromanagement is boring and doing a bunch of handwork on the entire universe for all eternity can get old really quick. It’s much better just to create a process that will essentially hunt and peck along for order across billions of years and, sooner or later, come up with a life form that can both apprehend You and make a hot-fudge sundae at the same time.
The Atlantic is a stormy moat; and the Mediterranean,
The blue pool in the old garden,
More than five thousand years has drunk sacrifice
Of ships and blood, and shines in the sun; but here the Pacific–
Our ships, planes, wars are perfectly irrelevant.
Neither our present blood-feud with the brave dwarfs
Nor any future world-quarrel of westering
And eastering man, the bloody migrations, greed of power, clash of faiths–
Is a speck of dust on the great scale-pan.
Here from this mountain shore, headland beyond stormy headland
plunging like dolphins through the blue sea-smoke
Into pale sea–look west at the hill of water: it is half the planet:
this dome, this half-globe, this bulging
Eyeball of water, arched over to Asia,
Australia and white Antartica: those are the eyelids that never close;
this is the staring unsleeping
Eye of the earth; and what it watches is not our wars.