Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Design, Part I

Years ago, when such jokes were still mainly distributed by photocopy, someone gave me a one-page summary of the spiritual wisdom of the ages, phrased as variations on the adage "Shit Happens." You had stuff like

Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?
Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us?
Hinduism: This shit has happened before.

As someone who has practiced, studied, deconstructed, obsessed over, rebelled against, recovered from, been transformed by several religions, I found this list hilarious and I treasured it. Even though I organize my belongings by a scheme that could at best be called sedimentary, I'll bet you I could put my finger on this fading photocopy within a couple of minutes.

[Sound of clock ticking.]

It only took about five minutes--it was in an unmarked folder in the file cabinet that houses such items as 20-year-old French fashion magazines; the complete DVD set of Monty Python's Flying Circus; dozens of CDs (Soliloquy for Lilith, Tembang Sunda, Clinkers by Steve Lacy, other obscure stuff); a .45 automatic; a stamped tin box containing a bracelet made from the hair of a long-ago lover; and...actual files--many folders even having titles: Kali; OTO Kundalini Ritual; Taxes; Paris Catacombs; Starrett, Barbara (from back when I was semi-organized--this one contains a photocopy of the classic radical feminist text I Dream In Female)....


here it is, in the unmarked file folder that, oddly, also contains my father's obituary and a copy of Nerval's "El Desdichado" (the one thing here you really should Google, as it applies to what will follow). I'd forgotten these gems:

Protestantism: Let shit happen to someone else.
Catholicism: If shit happens, you deserve it.
Buddhism: If shit happens, it isn't really shit.

And best of all--

Taoism: Shit happens.

Yes, I'm easily entertained. But I love these because they get to the root of what the Buddha identified as the basic spiritual question: why do we suffer?


  1. Had one of those old photocopies on my wall years ago; made me grin.

    Love the filing scheme: Death, Decay, and Taxes.... Our decor is sedimentary here, too, complete with kitty avalanches.

  2. I liked the "shit" religions/-isms series. Googled for some more.

    Also tickled by your use of "sedimentary" to describe your filing system.

    Sounds like you're getting ready to tell a story. You've been threatening to do that for a while but not actually executed so far, I think ;) I look forward to reading.