One should not offend, except in the service of freedom. Where is the border there? Oh, I forgot, you may also offend in the service of satire. Whoa, baby, in the service of satire? What you say? Can one serve satire? Oh, yes, my little porcupines, one can. Satire is such a flexible little beast… almost anything is allowed in the name of satire. Even the most tasteless things.
But I try not to be tasteless. Mostly. I might make fun of God, whichever God you prefer… but probably not to your face, out of common civility (or out of fear of being punched). Faced with you and your beliefs, I will not ridicule them. I might spar with you a little, if I am bored, but otherwise I will leave you in peace with your beliefs.. Actually I find gods quite nice, in their quaint little way.
The funny thing is, I still say „Jesus!“ when something surprises me or „oh my God!“ when I am shocked, and so on. I’ve grown up an atheist, but nevertheless I am woven in to the Christian net.
My Son is an atheist as well, but his religion teacher says he knows more about the Bible than any of his classmates. Yeah, so why is that, you fucking Christians? Because the atheists tend to think about it all, for Christ’s sake. Because they know a little bit about what stands in the fucking Bible, because they actually (well, some of them at least) read the fucking Bible, because they have actually thought about God, and what the existence of God, true or not, actually could mean. My son’s classmates say: I believe in God. But they probably haven’t spent a single thought on the subject. My son knows about God. He knows about many gods, Christian, Greek, Roman, Norse… he hasn’t learned much about the Eastern gods yet, but he will. If he wants to believe in whatever, so be it. He is free to choose.
If I seem offensive to some people, that’s fine. All I am doing is exercising my freedom of thought and expression. There are times when one has to be offensive, in order to rattle people out of their preconceptions, and that is what satire is about. When your freedom to be offensively satirical is curtailed by threat of reprisal or death, that is bad news for you and your society as a whole. It’s all part of intolerance, of trying to dictate what people must believe. In the end, we have a simple equation: satire = freedom.
Listening to Helter Skelter from the Beatles.
„Who are you?“
„I am what I am, I’m Popeye the sailor man.“
Hellstrøm is nonplussed. „Wh… what?!“
„I’m sorry, wasn’t that the right answer?“
„Don’t you know?“
„Yes, I know.“ God giggles, then knits his brow in thought. „At least, I think I know.“
„Wait a minute… you’re just fucking around with me, right? Who are you? What are you?“
„I’m, uhh… it’s impossible to pronounce in your tongue.“
„What do you mean, you mean, like, you’re an alien or something, with a name impossible to pronounce?“
„No… uhh, yes.“
Hellstrøm decides to approach the matter from another angle.
„Where did you come from?“
Hellstrøm’s mouth writhes wordlessly.
„Wrong answer again? I’m sorry. It’s just…“ God’s voice peters off.
„It’s difficult to keep all this stuff apart…“
„What stuff, what do you mean?“
„Everything…? To keep everything apart?“
„But, but… who are you?!“
„I can just tell: wrong answer again, right?“
Hellstrøm curses under his breath and wonders how he can get out of this conversation gracefully. After all, it wouldn’t do to offend God, would it now? On the other hand, something in him wants to get to the root of the matter.
„You can’t keep everything apart… what do you mean by that exactly?“
Once again Hellstrøm’s mouth writhes wordlessly.
„Anything? Is that the right answer? Nothing seems to satisfy you though! That is to say, in a manner of speaking… nothing.“
„I have the feeling you are leading me in circles here, God.“
„Circles? Circles are fun. One, two, three… it’s the threes that get me. Or the sevens. I’m not sure. All those little numbers… put ’em together, and they’re big. Made so many I’ve lost track. But I am not leading you, Hellstrøm, I am you.“
„So, you’re Hellstrøm?“ Hellstrøm feels utterly silly in posing the question.
„Yes… uhh, no. Yes.“
„It’s the wrong fucking answer again, God. Now just stop bullshitting me and, and…“
„All the numbers,“ God grumbles, „it’s enough to drive you batty. I know them all, I am all the numbers, it’s no wonder I can’t concentrate. Too many variables. Possibilities. It’s gotten out of hand, but I can’t stop it anymore. And to think I started with zero…“
„So… so you’re saying…“
„No!“ God thundered, „Yes! Maybe! Take your fucking pick! There is no answer to your questions, and every answer is correct!“ When Hellstrøm had finished cowering, he went home and listened to some music and smoked a joint, reminding himself of Voltaire’s words on doubt and certainty.
I woke up one morning on the park bench, remembering a dream.
„Why would you want to sleep on a park bench?“ God had asked, „That is about as desperate as you can get.“
„Well, I didn’t exactly want to sleep on the bench,“ I replied, „it just sort of happened.“
„You want a thousand dollars?“ he asked.
„Uhh… no. But since you ask, five thousand would be nice… have you ever slept on a park bench?“
He laughed, and that was the end of the dream.
It only remains to add that I have no idea how I came to that comfortable bench.
Hellstrøm: Okay, just wanted to make sure you’re there.
God: Yeah, right. So what’s ’bout this new book?
Hellstrøm: Same old same old, man meets woman, good conquers evil, love wins over hate, indifference and fatalism.
God: Aha. Very original. You guys never do learn, do you.
Hellstrøm: Well, God, the human race is…
God: I wasn’t talking about humans. I was talking about authors.
Hellstrøm: … well. *clears throat* I always wanted to ask you a question, God.
Hellstrøm: What kind of music do you listen to, I mean like, when you’re chillin’, and have time to listen.
Hellstrøm: Fuck. I hate jazz.
God: No big deal.
Hellstrøm: D’ya mind if I ask some more questions?
God: *raises his bushy patrician eyebrows* If you must.
Hellstrøm: I must. Just wondering how long you’re going to go on like this, letting people kill each other in your name.
God: As long as it takes… *sighs* say, who’s interviewing who here?
Hellstrøm: Haven’t the slightest.
God: Me either. So, what else you want to know?
Hellstrøm: What is the answer?
God: What… to which question.
Hellstrøm: The question.
God: Oh, please…
Hellstrøm: No, really…! *clears throat* Really! *grins*
God: *frowns* You tryin’ to ace me out, man?
Hellstrøm: No, no, Jesus, heh, I mean God, no, I mean, uh… well, you know what I mean.
God: *laughs heartily* Yeah, I know. Thanks for the interview. Hellstrøm goes home and listens to 100% Song from The Mekons.
I have an acquaintance, he is a priest. Cynical atheist chumming with a genuine fucking Christian priest, odd, ain’t it? I like him a lot, because I can discuss God with him. We have very amusing conversations. We are both amused by our respective viewpoints. You know what he says? He loves talking to atheists, because they generally know more about God than believers. In general, he said, believers mostly simply believe, and it is the atheists and agnostics of the world who actually think about God. He sees it as an intellectual challenge, discussing God, and I must say that we have reached an agreement, in the latter stages of our drunken discussions: that there are moments of bliss.
Wether God exists or not, there are moments of bliss. Moments where human beings believe that everything is all right. Everything is perfect… well, maybe not everything, but the moments of bliss transcend every worldly concern. You are in tune with the world and the moment is perfect, even if your whole life is not.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced such moments, but I have. Actually, I feel bliss every time I am in the forest by the river and see a pair of crows chasing a buzzard away. It’s nature at its most basic that gets my goat every time. My breast expands, I take a deep breath, and I feel as one with the world. So, is that God? My acquaintance says it is, he says that those are the moments when I am near God. Well, if you want to call it being near God, that’s fine with me, as long as you don’t expect me to chime in on the same note. I say those are the moments when I simply feel good because evolution has seen to it that I enjoy being in nature. My ancestors were forced to be in nature for millions of years, it’s the normal state of being for humans. And when I see how the buzzard tries to find the crows’ nest, and how they are on his ass in a trice, I just know, deep down inside, that this is the way of things, and that it is right.
Right? Right, you ask, what’s „right“ about it then? It’s natural, that’s all. There are no complicated philosophical concepts behind it. And no God either. It’s the way things have been for millions of years, basic natural patterns, and it is ingrained in our genetic makeup to understand it, because we’ve been living with it for millions of years. To put it simply, it’s what we’re used to on the most basic human level. And humans always somehow get to like what they are used to, given time. A damned long time we’ve had for it, too. The time the human race has spent living separated from nature the way so many of us do nowadays is utterly insignificant in comparison.
Listening to Komine, by Habib Koité and Bamada.