June 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Humor is a subjective thing, so I’ll fill you in on the gaps. Our pig of course shares a lack of certain scruples with Elizabeth Warren. The totem gig comes from two sources.
First, I heard interviewed last year on The Michael Medved Show a remarkable performance artist. She was commissioned via Kickstarter to circumprostrate herself around Mount Rainer. It’s not as dirty as it sounds. From all the bowing down, I guess there’s a spiritual dimension to it, but I can only scratch my head in wonder as to who paid for this and why. Nonetheless, as a free marketeer I say more power to this woman if she can get people to pay her for her art. It’s something I’m working on myself.
The second part of the totem reference also originates in the Pacific Northwest, which is a sort of epicenter of ecological writing. There’s a whole lifestyle and philosophy that’s captured by folks like now-retired English professor and poet Gary Snyder. Early in life, he saw the world as a merchant mariner, caught Zen Buddhism, and subsequently married it to Native American spirituality among other things.
From time to time in my day job, I encounter some works in this tradition. I find the children’s literature to be especially striking. One story book features a privileged white kid who is empowered by the spirit of Raven to oppose some mean guys in hard hats who cut down trees for a living. Another encourages children to connect to “place” and maybe discover for themselves a special inspiring animal, or totem. As the child of one Asian immigrant (and a native-born American) I can’t help but be tickled by how my fellow, privileged Americans turn from their rich heritage in search of more resonant truths. By accident or providence, I’m on the opposite end of the divide from those Beatniks and baby boomers disaffected with Western modernity. Once I came upon the scene, I was taken with the strange idea that America is a singular land of opportunity, that democracy and free market enterprise were vindicated by the end of history, and that we all have God to thank for it. I still hold to this, by the way.
There’s one more piece to the punchline, if like me you don’t recall much of ancient literature. It’s that Gilgamesh is 2/3 god, and 1/3 mortal. But how does one get such a proportion of pedigree?