Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lemuel Washington Challenges Happiness Theory

We caught up with Lemuel Washington between fix-it jobs,
resting alongside his railroad handcar in the shade of a bunyon
grove on the outskirts of Hmmm, while his animal Buzz and a
pack of jackrabbits took turns chasing each other through the
briar underbrush.

RM: Do you agree, as was stated, that happiness is the greatest
challenge in the world?

LW: No. Happiness is the easiest thing. Happiness is a simple
matter of minding your own business. Whenever you suspect you're
unhappy, ask yourself: Am I minding my own business? If I am,
could I mind it just a little bit more?

RM: Aren't you curious about your fellow man?

LW: Which one?

RM: Me?

LW: Oh, sure. I'm curious as to how you found me. Frankly,
I prefer not to let nor man nor woman, nor child nor beast,
nor bug nor mollusk interfere with my own inalienable
constitutional happiness to pursue my own business.

RM: Aren't we all part of the world, part of one another?
Aren't we our brother's keeper?

LW: I'm my sister's keeper but only because I can't pawn
her off on a fella. You married, by the way?

RM: Yes.

LW: Happily?

RM: Quite.

LW: Still?

RM: What do you mean still?

LW: Since I just asked.

RM: How do you block out the suffering in the world in
order to wallow in your own private happiness?

LW: When in doubt, I fix something.

RM: What do you fix?

LW: Name it.


LW: Well, there's only one in the village. It never breaks
because nobody never uses it. We only got three channels
and they keep playing the same three shows over in over all
month, so there's no sense in taping because any time you
might want to watch the tape, the show itself is on again.

RM: What are the channels?

LW: Vegetable Channel, Gossip Channel, Dreams Channel.

RM: Dreams Channel?

LW: People go on there and plunk down a dollar and
tell the village their dream. Only nobody watches it
but besides the one that told their dream. But the
dollars are going toward a fourth station.

RM: What's that going to be?

LW: They ain't decided. I'd like it to be The Mind
Your Own Business Channel. Nobody would be on there
and nothing would happen, except a sign that says,
"Are You Minding Your Own Business? If You're Not,
Whom Is?"

RM: And yet everyone knows that the mixed animal has
burrowed his way into your life and heart. I think
you're just pretending to be gruffer than you are
in order to protect your creamy marshmallow center.

LW: My heart is tough as a New York sidewalk before there
was even sidewalks. I didn't have no choice but to take that
mystical fleabag under my wing. It was a globular conspiracy
against me wallowing in my happiness. I fought the universe
and the universe won.

RM: I'm surprised to hear you admit that you lost at

LW: Where'd you get that idea?

RM: Oh, for example, you say you win every conversation
you get in.

LW: How come I don't feel like I'm winning this one?
I guess I mean that I get tempted into conversations with
every knucklehead that wanders my way, thinking I can talk some
common sense into them, and then I win by getting away
with half my sanity in tact, which grows back when I mind my
own business again. And at that, I got a walnut-counting machine
to fix for Laverne and Dyle Plum up Pizana Bandura, although
you got me why'd anybody want to count walnuts. Am I gonna
ask? Probably, but I'll regret it. Buzz! Come here, you
mystical fleabag! Leave them rabbits be! And you rabbits let
Buzz be!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

The Greatest Challenge in The World

What a challenge
to be happy
in the world
this torn world of
mayhem bombs hunger madness terror hatred
heartbreak torture death happiness
is the greatest
challenge in the world
in this whole old torn howling world

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

"One Teacher"

From The Way to Love, by Anthony de Mello
(Doubleday, Image Books):

You can get someone to teach you things mechanical or
scientific or mathematical like algebra or English or
riding a cycle or operating a computer.

But in the things that really matter--life, love, reality,
God--no one can teach you a thing.

All they can do is teach you formulas.

As soon as you have a formula, you have reality filtered
through the mind of someone else. If you take those formulas
you will be imprisoned. You will wither and when you come to
die, you will not have known what it means to see for yourself,
to learn.

Think of the kind of feeling that came upon you when you
saw a bird fly over a lake or observed a blade of grass peeping
out of a crack in the wall or heard the cry of a baby at night
or sensed the loveliness of a naked human body or gazed at a corpse
lying cold and rigid in a coffin.

You may try to communicate the experience in music or poetry
or painting. But in your heart you know that no one will ever
comprehend exactly what it was you saw and sensed.

That is exactly how a Master feels when you ask him to teach
you about life or God or reality. All he can do is give you
a formula, a set of words strung together into a formula.

Is there any way you can know that what you are in touch with
is Reality?

Here is one sign: What you perceive does not fit into any
formula whether given by another or created by yourself. It
can not be put into words.

So what can teachers do?

They can bring to your notice what is unreal, they can destroy
your formulas, they can indicate your error. They can, at the most,
point in the direction of Reality.

You will have to walk out there all alone and discover for yourself.

To walk alone--that means to walk away from every formula--the ones
given to you by others, the ones you have learned from books, the
ones you yourself invented in the light of your own past experience.

That is possibly the most terrifying thing a human being can do--
move into the unknown, unprotected by any formula.

To walk away from the world of human beings as the prophets and
mystics did is not to walk away from their company but from their

Then, even though you are surrounded by people, you are truly
and utterly alone.

What an awesome solitude!

That solitude, that aloneness is Silence. It is only this Silence
that you will see. And the moment you see you will abandon
every book and guide and guru.

And a strange change will come about in you, barely perceptible
at first but radically transforming.

You will feel the exhilarating freedom, the extraordinary confidence
that comes from knowing that every formula, no matter how sacred,
is worthless; and you will never again call anyone your teacher.
Then every single thing will be your teacher.

So put your books and formulas aside; dare to abandon your teacher
and see things for yourself. Dare to look at everything around you
without fear and without formula and it won't be long before you

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Unauthorized Interview with Sexy Whopping Apples, Part 3.

(Parts 1 and 2 may appear immediately below)

SWA: Now, the book takes place in a village called Hmmm.
Where is Hmmm located exactly?

RM: In the book. As the book is in the village.

SWA: I mean, Is there an actual place in the world
you were thinking of when you wrote about Hmmm?

RM: Oh. I was thinking of a combination of both Alaska, the Cape of
Good Hope, ancient Fresno, the Catskills, the Great Wall of China,
and primal Spain.

SWA: May I say there doesn't seem to be anybody in charge
in Hmmm?

RM: You may, but I would suggest that everybody is in charge.
Once you get a village oiled and humming along, it pretty much
runs itself, like a cactus, or a rusty can.

SWA: Now, at one point, Lemuel mentions the village computer, and
that he's 163th in line to use it. That surprised me, because
I had believed the story takes place in, oh, the 1950s perhaps?

RM: The gravity is lighter there, requiring less energy, so
the clocks run faster and don't use up as much time. Hmmm
uses the Gnelnm calendar, a more flexible sense of time
based on the Tao and the general mood of the village.

SWA: How does one measure the "general mood of the village"?

RM: It's in the Zeitschmaultz.

SWA: The what?

RM: That's German for Geistvelten.

SWA: I think you're making up words.

RM: Not on purpose. If I was going to make up words, I wouldn't make
up German words. It's enough of those already.

SWA: Lemuel, your protagonist, seems to get in a lot of conversations,
but he also becomes quite agitated when they don't go his way.

RM: I wouldn't call it agitated if your foe in the conversation keeps
ignoring the rules.

SWA: The rules of conversation?

RM: Yes, Lemuel starts most conversations, and whoever starts a
conversation ought to get to decide which way it goes.

SWA: Do you happen to have any pictures of the animal?

RM: I have had some pictures of the animal, but he retains
the rights.

SWA: How does an animal retain the rights to pictures?

RM: By eating them. I suspect he heard that pictures steal
a part of his soul, and that he could get the parts back if
he ate them.

SWA: That can't be good for him.

RM: It would be worse for anybody that tried to stop him.

SWA: Who.

RM: Anybody.

SWA: You said "that tried", it should be "who tried".

RM: That who tried what?

SWA: Without giving anything away, there's a project, shall
we say, in a certain area of the cottage, and it involves stolen
items from somewhere, quite a few stolen items. Is there any kind
of moral compass that guides the, shall we say, project manager?

RM: Without giving anything away, shall we say, no. That animal
has the morals of a sack of gumballs.

SWA: Keeping that in mind, do you think this is a book for children?

RM: I wouldn't even let a impressionable adult read this book.

SWA: Who's the audience for the book, then?

RM: Underemployed 14th Century shepherds. I think it would cheer
them up, or at least confuse them for a while, and I wonder
what more you could ask for from literature.

(Part 4 may be coming soon, depending on the Weltenzeist.)

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Uncorrected Transcript of Interview from Sexy Whopping Apples, Part 2.

(continuing--see just below for Part 1)

SWA: Feel better?

RM: Yes, thank you.

SWA: You have just a smush of ketchup on your nose there.

RM: Oh. I like to do that with French fries.
(discreetly wipes nose with tablecloth)

SWA: What would you compare your book to?

RM: In terms of food-wise?

SWA: In terms of other books, other authors.

RM: Well, people have compared it to Mark Twain,
Flannery O'Connor, The Little Prince, and Kafka.

SWA: My goodness. What people compared it to those?

RM: Off-hand, I don't recall at this time.

SWA: Could it have been yourself?

RM: It might have, but I'd like to doubt it.

SWA: Don't you think that's a little overreaching,
comparing youself and your little book to masters and classics?

RM: At the moment, I certainly do. I haven't read many books,
so when somebody says to compare my books to other books, I
often casually compare them to the same books over in over,
just because I don't want to look any more dumber than I might

SWA: All right. Let's talk about the message of the book.


SWA: What is it?

RM: Oh. I thought you were going to tell me.
Well, I think it could be that, well, go ahead and fix
things if you must, that are broken, if you can, but
remember that more things might be going on than you
know, broken or not, under the surface, and, so, you ought to
maybe meditate a little, while you're at it.

SWA: That'll be catchy on the book jacket. Personally,
I think your book is a sociological inquiry into the
lexiconography of rural myth and post-rational philosophy,
concluding that communication in the 21st Century is akin
to a variety of meta-ur-dialectics.

RM: The only thing I understood is "21st Century," but
luckily the book takes place in the 20th.

SWA: Let's talk about the animal. Buzz. How did he get
that name?

RM: Well, first, it was Oscar. Somebody asked me what his
name was, and I just said the first thing. I didn't even know
the animal at the time. But a lot of animals and people were
named Oscar, including a book with Oscar in the title
by the same publisher. Then it was Aloha somehow, but everybody
thought he was Hawaiian, and he wasn't.
So then I couldn't think of any other names. Then
I had a dream about a mysterious fellow in a t-shirt that said
"Don't Kill My Buzz" on it. And then I heard a song about
the Northern Lights by Neil Young. So, I figured out how it got
its name in the book because of Uncle Leonard and where he went
to get away and think about life and inventing and misanthrope

SWA: How exactly did Uncle Leonard die, by the way?
You left that somewhat up in the air.

RM: I don't believe I do, but I don't like to think about it.
It's pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty gruesome.

SWA: What about Lemuel? Lemuel Washington. Is he as dumb as
he seems some times?

RM: It depends on who he's talking to. I notice
he gets dumber or smarter depending on who he's talking to,
and I relate to that a lot myself sometimes, such as now.

SWA: Is he happy?

RM: That's a odd question, because I never thought about it.
I think he would be happier if he didn't think so much
about things. Such as winning conversations all the time.

(Part 3 later soon.)

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Preliminary Transcript of Interview from Sexy Whopping Apples, Part 1.

SWA: Why did you write this book, this Mixed Animal?

RM: I thought the world could use it.

SWA: How?

RM: Well, that's up to the world. I just thought it
would make the world a little more of a better place
to be alive in somehow.

SWA: That's quite an ambition.

RM: Thank you. I didn't really ever think why I
wrote it before just now. But I think I believe myself.
Also, though, I couldn't really help it. It was like
I got a cut somehow and started bleeding happiness.

SWA: All right. Now, I notice it takes place in a village.
Did you do a lot of research on villages?

RM: No.

SWA: How did you know what you were doing?

RM: I never said I did. In fact, I would say I didn't.

SWA: Did you do research on anything in your book?

RM: It depends what you mean by "research".

SWA: What do you mean by it?

RM: I don't mean anything by it. I did look at a bunch
of pictures of different stuff.

SWA: Villages? Animals?

RM: Clouds. Barns. Different types of potato meals. Gals.

SWA: Why would you look at pictures of gals as
research for this book?

RM: Why wouldn't I? There's gals in it.

SWA: Yes, there are. Speaking of which, is this fellow,
this Lemuel, is he and his sister Shane's relationship
supposed to be like a real-life village noir version
of Hansel and Gretel, by any chance?

RM: I never thought of that. I would say no, but
it would had been interesting if I did.

SWA: Well, you even have somebody fiddling with a
Hansel and Gretel doodad in there, figurine.

RM: I have a lot of people fiddling with a lot of
things. I wouldn't draw any conclusions unless I
had to, if I were you.

SWA: You have bread crumbs.

RM: I have a Helms truck, too, but that doesn't
mean somebody is a donut, or a symbolic donut.

SWA: By the way, how did she get the name Shane?
Was she named after the enigmatic cowboy hero?

RM: Yes. I was watching Shane the movie when I
thought it would be a good name for her. I always
like to think of her as an enigmatic cowgirl who
is always causing trouble, fighting for justice for
herself, and riding out of town in a cloud of
mysterious fortune-telling dust.

SWA: What about the animal? Where did that come from?

RM: The Unconscious Forest.

SWA: Where did the Unconscious Forest come from?

RM: Well, it was already there. Somebody just named
it that. There's a discussion in the book about it.

SWA: Yes, I know. What is this about Lemuel always
trying to win every conversation he's in?

RM: He's just that way. I don't believe he's that
unusual in this day in age.

SWA: I think you go to extremes in this case.

RM: I couldn't go to them if they weren't already

SWA: Oh, I think you could.

RM: I wouldn't know how.

SWA: I think you could figure it out.

RM: I doubt that I could.

SWA: Have you tried?

RM: I certainly have. I'm trying right now.

SWA: And how are you doing?

RM: I'm a little hungry. Could we brake for lunch?

(Part 2 later)

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