The prophet and the law

One of the best things I ever read was from Cataloging U.S.A. by Paul Dunkin. It’s been one of the most applicable things to human behavior ever. It’s about the prophet and the law. I shall paraphrase.

The prophet comes along and says, Hey everyone, dig this: love God and love your neighbor. But people, they just can’t handle that. They freak the fuck out. That’s too much for them. They’ll have to think. So they devise a system where they won’t have to think: the law! The law will tell them who their neighbor is and when he’s their neighbor and how far away from them he should stand and what love is and when it isn’t love at all but it is in fact hate and how to love said neighbors and how not to love them and what God is ad infinitum. Then they have a law for every situation. No more thinking. Problem solved.

Mr. Dunkin was talking about prophets of cataloging (we have a few, including the beloved Seymour Lubetzky), and its many, many laws (we have laws for cataloging spirit communications–that is, when you’re channeling ghosts, and they’re talking through you, and someone’s transcribing it, there’s written rules for cataloging that bullshit). But it can be applied all round. People hate thinking. They hate being responsible for themselves. They love to have something to look to in every situation. Laws are easier. Laws let us go to sleep at the wheel. Dogma, legalities, technicalities, customs, anything where we don’t have to question or be curious anymore, where we don’t have to worry about anyone else, that’s so much easier than thinking about situations and using our own judgments.

It can be hard to wake up again. And being awake in a sleeper society is painful sometimes.

I have been awake and asleep both. I woke up and chose to go back to sleep. Sometimes I pop my head out of the covers. Sometimes I jump out of bed. Sometimes I jump right back in again. I don’t know if it’s harder for me to be awake or asleep these days.

So which is better? Awake in a zombie town? Or asleep in the Matrix? Either way you get ate.

Maybe it isn’t like that. Maybe you can make a difference. Maybe my double-double is disagreeing with me. Help me out, people.


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