Friday, March 27, 2009

Lao Tse & the Tao, According to Lemuel Washington in MIXED ANIMAL

One time I was fixing the springs on Dill Ring's barn door. I wanted to test out a motto from the Toa The Ching, namely, "You know, Dill, profit comes from what is there, usefulness from what is not there."

Dill puzzled over it, sniffling and poking a stick at the back of his own hat so it come down over his face, then fixing his hat and doing it again. "Zatta riddle?" he says.

"No, it's a spiritual motto."

"Oh." He asked me to repeat it, which I did. Finally he says, "How you figger?"

"Well, for example, profit comes to me for fixing your barn door, but your barn door is useful to you only if you can open it, and when you open it it ain't there, so that things could usefully go in and out where it was."

"How you figger it ain't there? It's there, it's jest open."

"Yes, but it's not where it was when it was closed."

"It's near enough to be there when you need to close it again."

"Ahem, yes, but if you was a horse or a cow or wagon going through it, it's gone enough that you're going to think it's not there."

"What do I care if my horse or cow or wagon think the door ain't there or not, long as they go in or come out the barn when I want ‘em to?"

See, Loa Stu never met no Dill Ring. I should of knewn better than to spiritualize a bumpkin. They always had some way to slip out of the higher mindedness you were trying to trick them into. That's why preachers don't allow no wiseacre backtalk from the peanut gallery. I was the only one I knew that believed in deep communication, but you couldn't have it with yourself unless you pretended you didn't know what you was saying half the time.

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