Written by Loren Logsdon
Wednesday, 11 September 2013 00:00
If you are ever traveling through Weeder’s Clump on a Monday morning and happen to stop at Cyril Poindexter’s Garage and Auto Mart around 7:30, you will find Boone Fowler, August Provender, Dr. James Canada, and Sy Harvest drinking coffee and discussing the news of the past week. On the morning of May 6, 2013, Sy Harvest was upset by several stories in the news. In particular, an ax murderer in Saint Louis, a killer clown on a rampage in Peoria, a man who was killed when his friend attempted to shoot a beer can off his head, and a man on death row who claimed that he was too sick to die.
Sy Harvest, who is the wealthiest farmer in Weeder’s County, shook his head and said, “How can one explain the insanity that is rampant in our country today?”
Boone Fowler responded, “The dishonest people are making more money than the honest people, and that’s the trouble in America today.”
Cyril Poindexter, the younger brother of Weeder’s Clump mayor Oinky Poindexter, could not let Boone’s remark go unchallenged. Like Rafael Palmiero pointing his finger at Congress and declaring that he had never taken steroids, Cyril gestured at Boone and said, “Don’t be such a Nimrod, Boone. The real trouble is that people are suffering from existential angst and fin de siecle hysteria.”
August Provender was aghast at Cyril’s remark. He said, “Crimony, Cyril, how can people be suffering from something when they don’t even know what it means?”
By this time Dr. James Canada could not refrain from entering the conversation. Dr. Canada was the most intellectually accomplished professor at Heliotrope University. He was the only professor who had ideas the instant he awakened in the morning, and his students thought he was a university all by himself. Like E. F. Hutton, when Dr. Canada spoke, people listened.
Dr. Canada took a sip of coffee; then he said, “American culture has not yet succeeded in balancing the Apollonian-Dionysian forces of life. Consequently we see an infinite variety of sociopathic behavior, and it will get worse before it gets better.”
Boone Fowler’s mouth gaped. He slapped his knee, guffawed, and gave Dr. Canada a respectful look. “Now that’s brilliant. It would have taken me six months to come up with an analysis like that, but you can do it at the drop of a hat. You are a genius like the professor on Gilligan’s Island.”
At this moment Tug Armstrong rolled from beneath Ms Darlene Maxwell’s 1978 Mercury Monarch. Tug was fondly known as “The Brown Eyed Nut Twister” because he was the expert mechanic at the garage. Tug was always busy because everyone wanted him to work on their car, whether it needed work on not.
Tug wiped the grease from his hands, poured a cup of coffee, and said, “The insanity in our world is the result of Nietzsche, French existentialism, Freudian psychology, and the Industrial Revolution.”
“What about Darwinian science?” Boone asked, hoping to confuse the Brown Eyed Nut Twister and stop him in his tracks.
“There need be no conflict between science and religion. Boone, can’t you see that for most people, science and religion are but two different attempts to explain the Creation. Remember Saint Augustine’s two cities.” Tug countered.
Boone started to reply, but Tug was on a roll, and he said, “Nietzsche’s declaration that God is dead opened the door to untold misery and a whole host of cockamaimy ideas, unleashing legions of mean and nasty people who embrace a narcissism and promote a nihilism so dark and deep that we should all cast ourselves into the abyss.”
Tug continued, “For if there is no God, then the human being has two equally dangerous alternatives. He can make a god of himself or create a god from among other people or things of this world. The first alternative can lead to the notion of the superman like Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler. The second alternative is equally dangerous because the gods that people create are chimerical and bizarre like Elvis and Michael Jackson.”
Boone tried to say something, but before he could, Tug said, “Boone, can’t you see that man’s temporal and eternal welfare is dependent upon a belief in an anthropomorphic God who represents ideals and virtues which we must endeavor to emulate? Values such as order, truth, justice, creativity, compassion, and respect for nature and for a greater power outside of ourselves. To put it quite another way, we must believe that truth is a fixed star and that happiness is achieved by observing a few basic and simple laws of life.”
Tug paused for a brief sip of coffee, and Boone tried to speak, but Tug was too fast for him. “Unfortunately those people who respect nothing outside themselves can visit all kinds of cruelty and brutality on other people with a certain philosophical justification. A case in point, my piscatorial friend, is Sartre’s play No Exit, whose upshot is that Hell is other people. It follows logically that if Hell is other people, then one can treat other people like Hell. According to this Weltansicht, other people become obstacles, things, frustrations, or objects, and one’s relationship to them translates into what Martin Buber called the I-It relationship.”
Boone started to speak, but Tug would not let him. Tug said, “This gestalt is extended and intensified by Freudian psychology, which denies the human being any special worth, dignity, or destiny. Instead the human being is merely a poor wretch who is the product of neuroses, psychoses, complexes, and compulsions. As poet Edwin Arlington Robinson aptly put it, ‘Modern man is lost in a spiritual kindergarten, trying to spell G-O-D with the wrong blocks.’”
Boone smiled and tried to visualize that scene, but Tug didn’t give him time. “Boone, my friend, you can learn a lot about the plight of the modern world by reading a book called The Education of Henry Adams. In a chapter entitled “The Dynamo and the Virgin,” Adams focused on the most important change that would occur in the 20th century. He explained that for centuries the Virgin Mary had represented a guiding, inspirational, spiritual, unifying force for mankind. Boone, you must appreciate the concept that as a human and divine symbol of the miracle of reproduction the Virgin Mary inspired great art and great architecture. Adams realized, however, that the Virgin as a force in life was being replaced by the Dynamo, a powerful but non-human force. And, worse, the Dynamo was an anarchical force which would not inspire great art or provide meaning and purpose for people.”
As Tug paused for another sip of coffee, the telephone rang, and Cyril answered it. “Hey, Tug, it’s some big shot from Detroit who wants to know how to hook up the torque converter on the Ford Wombat.”
Tug hated Detroit and vowed never to go there, but he took the phone from Cyril and began speaking to the suit of clothes on the other end of the line.
Boone, Cyril, August, Sy, and Dr. Canada sighed with relief and made their escape hastily while Tug was on the phone.
To his great disappointment, Tug discovered that his friends had left. Whistling “The Grand March to Aida,” he started to resume work on Ms Maxwell’s car. Before he could do that, Amber Starr, the top salesperson at Poindexter’s, came by to put license plates on a car she was trying to sell. Very innocently she said to Tug, “I wonder why our weather has been so strange lately?’
Very gently Tug laid his wrench on the hood of Ms Maxwell’s car. He walked over to Amber, gazed at her sympathetically like Bill Clinton when he feels someone’s pain, and said, “Now there are several theories to account for the weather. The ancient Greeks believed the weather was directly dependent on the quality of worship and sacrifices offered to the gods. The Shilluk tribe in Africa believed that the weather was closely connected with the health and vitality of their king. Strange as it seems, some people actually believe that our weather is determined by a groundhog that lives in the Wildlife Prairie Park. Others argue that the size of a tumble bug’s ball is the only accurate indicator. But personally I believe that ….
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 September 2013 14:20