Tuesday, August 9, 2011

truth, lies and other entertainments

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Today is my older son's birthday. How he ever got to be 19 beats the hell out of me. But he's a good egg, so, however it happened, I'm happy to see his current outcome.

Yesterday, I went to a sporting goods store to get him some small gift. I had already given him "The Divine Comedy," which he asked for, but I wanted something to mark the actual day. I wandered around the store, marveling at what seemed to me to be enormous prices for very small goods. Finally, I settled lazily on a couple of polo shirts. Kind of a blah choice in my mind. Sure, they were useful and handsome to some extent, but as a present, they bored me. I wanted to give him something unusual, something outside what he might have expected, something to delight or annoy or be somehow outside his box.

Driving home, I passed a house with a large sign in front offering palm readings, Tarot and other prognostication efforts. Once upon a time, such places were illegal but, well, time passes and there was the big sign. I pulled a U-turn, went to the house and bought a "sale" certificate for $5. The woman explained that it would not be for a "full reading" -- just a personality assessment. I didn't care. The idea tickled my fancy ... something off-the-wall; another indicator that the old man loved his son and was slightly nuts; something to make the teenager think ... if only for a nanosecond.

To "entertain an idea" is to let it roll around in the mind, see how it fits with previous ideas and beliefs and conclusions. Some ideas that are entertained dovetail beautifully with what has gone before. Some excite an imperious rejection. Some beckon to a wider horizon. Does it matter? To entertain and idea is to be entertained. Truth, lies, pure ghee or unadulterated bullshit -- it's all entertaining and the only question left unanswered is, who is this entertainer?

I wonder if there isn't some strand of inescapable DNA that knows that the strenuous efforts that can be made on behalf of "the truth" are everywhere and always shadowed by the longing for a really good "lie." Really, it's hard to find an overarching, compelling lie just as it is hard to find a compelling and overarching truth. The libraries of this world stand as testimony to such searches for meaning ... and libraries receive endless additions to their fabled and fabulous collections... searching for the one true lie, the one prevaricating truth. And no library can hold a candle to the human mind.

Now that's entertainment.
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