06 April, 2007

Mah Nishtanah

The Wide-Eyed Man, a sensitive and atheistical soul for whom I have the highest respect, has recently written,
I am the defective one. An ordered relationship to myth is the natural state of humans. Even in our bodies there are rhythms, there is day and night. Our cells know hours and years. Without Eid-el-Fitri or Lent or Pesach, without Ganesh Chaturthi or Egungun, I am adrift. I cannot believe, but I am not freed of the longing for order that belief sates. My soul tires from marking three-hundred and sixty-five holy days in a row.
I protest! There is nothing natural about this man of myth and rhythms. He has succumbed to a dishonest lie; he has become less a man than a clock, and I shall have more to say, a lot more, about the clocklike man, very soon. It is best for man to be polyrhythmic, or even a chaos without rhythm. For him to say, 'I am the defective one'—why, is this not the very marrow of cultured hypocrisy? And when he refers so casually to that 'continuous ecstasy of wonder and pain' that is his life—quid tum? And this 'longing', this rage to order? It is bad faith, a disingenuity. Sometimes, says the Wide-Eyed Man, he looks 'enviously at those who have long stretches of "ordinary" days, for whom life isn't always a raging and signifying fire'. Behold, my friend—envy me. My sublimity, I do confess, is finite. He remarks, 'My soul tires from marking three-hundred and sixty-five holy days in a row'. Might I suggest waiting for—a leap year?


Man cannot live by bread alone, but must also partake of the meat of good lambs, of which I have two. These should be slaughtered quickly and prepared tastily with sage.

Thus Spake Zarathustra, Part Four, 'The Last Supper'.
The finest joke in the German language. As for me? This week I shall eat leavened and unleavened bread, and all kinds of herbs, undipped; I shall sit straight, and also reclining. Nonetheless, Seder having passed, and empty seats since filled, I trust that my friends Mr. Midshipman Easy and Simon the Apostate will at least raise a glass for me next Monday, as Pesach draws to a close. Le'chayim!


Anonymous said...

The finest joke in the German language? I thought it was this: "Klug zu reden ist doch schwer, klug zu schweigen noch viel mehr."

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

No, I'm pretty sure it's "Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput."

Conrad H. Roth said...

Is that from Phenomenology of the Spirit?

Anonymous said...

Um . . . maybe.

Anonymous said...

"Wide-eyed man." Good Lord, there's an epithet to make a fellow feel positively Homeric.

Thanks Conrad.

chris miller said...

One of my (ever more frequent) thoughts is the collapse of my sense of time -- how last year feels like last week -- the weeks pass like moments -- all of
the holiday events I've ever attended continue to occur -- and I'm still at the same Easter dinner or Passover seder I sat down for 20 or 40 years ago.

And what if I lived another 20 -- 40 -- or, heaven forbid -- 50 more years ?

Time would be rushing past like storefronts when you're driving fast down a narrow street -- nothing distinguishable -- just a blur of unreadable neon.

That - or worse -- is how I figure the universe appears to God -- who's been around at least 5 billion years -- and would account for his notorious lack of interest in human destiny -- or as some would call it -- his under achievement.

I guess Teju's clock is still working -- but mine has been broken for a long time (how long ? I can't remember)

Conrad H. Roth said...

Gosh, is that what I have to look forward to, Chris? Perhaps the objectively-regular intervals of Easter etc. are at least helping you to judge the acceleration of the subjective intervals...