The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf

The flexibility of how

The above is a phrase I had to discourage an author from using in one of the manuals I am currently editing. It's not English, but it has a nice ring to it. It sounds somehow pregnant with obscure meaning, or like the slogan of one of those investment firms you see advertised during ball games: "Zaibatsu Financial Services: The Flexibility of How."

Here is further evidence of the universe pissing me off by handing me potent materials and no goddamn storyline: this evidence takes place, as so many of my anecdotes seem to, on the day I see my therapist. On that day I was sitting on the steps of the playground with my coffee and my whole-wheat vegan carrot cookie, listening to a trio of buskers playing down-home folk music to the people at the farmer's market. I love that kind of American folktune that wears its Irish heritage on its sleeve, and that was the kind they were playing -- one on guitar, one on fiddle, and one on something that I couldn't identify but that might have been a mandolin. As I got up to give them a few dollars I heard a thunderous sound, as of a building collapsing, and saw a cloud of dust rise up in the air. The mandolin player nudged the fiddler and they stopped playing. I expected at any moment to hear screams or to see people running down the street in a panic, but everyone at the market seemed very nonchalant, so the musicians and I decided that it must have been nothing -- scheduled demolition or construction, maybe.

"I guess I'm just a little hyper-paranoid," said the mandolin player; he wasn't bad-looking, incidentally, and was very tall, such that I had to crane my neck to look him in the eye.

"It's always nice to be reminded that one is constantly in a low-level state of panic," I replied.

The punch line, of course, is that it turns out that what we heard was actually the sound of scaffolding collapsing a few blocks away, killing at least five and injuring several others. I read about it in the Times the next day: they had to call workers up from the site of the World Trade Center to dig for possible survivors trapped in the rubble. One man who escaped with minor injuries was seen wandering around the site of the collapse, covered in a fine powder, reciting the Hail Mary in Spanish as he looked for his coworkers. Something about this image gave me a chill that went right down to the bone.

This is the part that pisses me off: That morning before therapy I had slipped in the shower and recalled a proverb I once read somewhere: "He who does not die on the battlefield slips in the bathtub."

O Universe, are we ever permitted to stop editing?

I have a friend with bipolar disorder -- hardcore, rapid-cycling, voices-in-your-head-telling-you-to-hurt-yourself bipolar disorder. I have often wondered what the evolutionary point of bipolar disorder might be, but have always drawn a blank. Having had no success on that front, I recently found myself wondering instead if there were any mythologies that adequately explained just why the hell such a weird affliction should exist, and so I turned to the Book of Samuel, which tells the story of King Saul and his succession by that lecherous brat, David. "An evil spirit from Yahweh afflicted him with horrors," says my translation, and this evil spirit seems to be bipolar disorder, in that Saul thereafter alternates between hideous depression and manic fits of trying to murder David by throwing spears at him. Eventually Saul drives David from the court and declares war on him specifically. Not only doesn't this work, but Saul ends up falling on his own sword. The end.

All righty, Books of the Prophets. What the hell kind of sense does this story make? Why would God do something like that to someone? When all Saul did wrong was neglect to kill every single ox and sheep in the town of Amalek, because he was saving them for later to sacrifice to God? Seriously, that's all he did -- while David, on the other hand, impregnated another man's wife and then had him killed in order to marry her, which seems worse to me. He also did some other stuff, but that's bad enough just by itself. What gives?

This is not a helpful mythology. All we learn from it is that God plays favorites, and we knew that already. Of course, David suffered a lot too, so we also learn that just because God likes you doesn't mean your life won't suck. Look at what He did to Jeremiah, after all, or Job, or Jesus. Yes. That's the lesson: Life sucks. Thanks, Books of the Prophets.

Can anyone point me to a cheerier mythology?
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