Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Books I've read in 2009

Religion. Art. Sex. The Arab-Israeil conflict. Politics. Marriage. Terrorism. And - oh yeah -- the end of the world. Tom Robbins had some heavy stuff on his mind when he wrote "Skinny Legs and All" and that's good cuz, unlike most people who get either depressed or confused when pondering such weighty matters, TR loves thinking about that stuff. So deep and palpable is that joy he felt writing that you can literally feel it when you read his words. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading this book. I was certainly in no hurry for it to end when his asides are as enjoyable as they are -- I mean Tom Robbins throws away lines that other writers would kill for. All along I thought the book was headed for a big showdown in the Promised Land, but that was an illusion. Where Robbins was actually going was so much better than that. And speaking of illusion, the ending where Salome does the dance of the seven veils -- removing one by one the misperceptions that keep us blind, broken and bound is just an astonishing 13 pages. The removal of the religion veil by itself was worth the price of admission:

Religion was an attempt to pin down the Divine. The Divine was eternally in flux, forever moving, shifting shape. That was its nature. It was absolute, true enough: absolutely mobile. Absolutely transcendent. Absolutely flexible. Absolutely impersonal. It had its god and goddess aspects, but it was ultimately no more male or female that it was star or screwdriver. It was the sum of all those things, but that sum could never be chalked on a slate. The Divine was beyond description, beyond knowing, beyond comprehension. To say that the Divine was Creation divided by Destruction was as close as one could come to definition. . . The Divine was expansive, but religion was reductive. Religion attempted to reduce the Divine to a knowable quantity with which mortals might efficiently deal, to pigeonhole it once and for all so that we never had to reevaluate it. With hammers of cant and spikes of dogma, we crucified and crucified again, trying to nail to our stationary altars the migratory light of the world.
Thus, since religion bore false witness to the Divine, religion was blasphemy. And once it entered into its unholy alliance with politics, it became the most dangerous and repressive force that the world has ever known

Read this book. Now. Then read it again.

I am so happy that I live on the same planet as Tom Robbins.

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