Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Dialogue on the Modern Age

The Modern motioned to the Cosmos and turned to his friend, The Clown. 

"What say ye?"

"What say you, you mean," he replied.

"I was going for dramatic effect," said the Modern. "A question has more weight when asked with older words."

"But clarity, my dear fellow, is the most important thing about a question."

"I thought it was the answer."

"Every question is an answer."

The Modern paused. "I'm not sure that makes sense."

"The better the question, the more one knows the answer already."

"Tell that to the scientists."

"There are a few in my line of work," the Clown replied.

The Modern peered at the sky and opened his umbrella. "I strikes me that life is full of clouds. Those clouds are caused by unanswered questions and a general sense of listlessness. If only one could have a store of sunshine somewhere that might be counted on."

The Clown grinned. "That's my job description!"

"Don't be a fool. No one laughs at clowns anymore."

"Well, call me a Jester then."

"Everybody jests nowadays, and no one does it very well."

The Clown mused. "It took him a thousand years, but Irony is finally king of the world. I liked it better when he was a servant in the palace of Romance. My profession was more distinguished and more enjoyable."

"But think of how Irony became king! The pen of Erasmus! The wit of Alexander Pope! The satire of Swift! They did a great work when they brought the rotten order of their ages into the broad light of Satire."

"I guess Swiftboating is older than we thought."

The Modern shook his head. "There you go again. That joke is too intellectual for the modern age. You need to work on honing your craft to suit the tastes of today's youth."

"Youth is only slightly less fleeting than taste."

"Now you sound like Shakespeare. People don't want Shakespeare! People don't want Clowns! People want a little cynicism mixed with their humor. It's the only way they keep sane in Earth's madhouse."

"Cynicism, like cyanide, can poison you," warned the Clown.

"Or it can bring you clarity which is the same virtue you were just praising to the skies."

"I never praise anything to the skies but God."

"Please keep God out of this. He's dead, remember?"

"There's a difference between being dead and playing dead. You're just playing."

"So you just think I'm just acting like God is dead."

"Like Shakespeare played Hamlet's dead dad, and the ghost of God haunts you worse than it did him."

The Modern tried to chuckle. "I don't believe in ghosts either."

"You say you don't, but what about invisible omnipresent deathly viruses?"

"That's different." 

"What about conspiracies hatched in Harvard, Silicon Valley, Texas, and a remote palace in Switzerland?"

"Leave my politics out of this."

"Or what about the invisible cheaters that you use to justify your own little black market morality?"

"Hey, the news is always uncovering those guys. Everybody is a cheater."

"That's sounds less like a finding, and more like a creed."

"My creed is no creed."

"Which leaves you with Greed!" the Clown laughed. 

The Modern shook his head. 

"Why don't you join the circus?" the Clown asked finally.

"Because I'm already in one," he replied. "It's called Earth."

"Then I feel sorry for you," said the Clown as he juggled a few planets. "At least I have an Audience." 

"Do you ever get booed?" the Modern asked perversely.

The Clown smiled. "I always get a response, and one day, I hope for wild applause from the one Man in the Balcony."

"Then keep your jokes. I'll keep telling the same Cosmic Joke."

"No one ever laughs at that one."

"Why not? It's the only joke worth telling."

"Actually it's not worth telling. It's not worth telling because there's no point in telling it." The Clown stopped juggling. "There isn't anybody listening, you see."

"So what? Do you perform for one man in a balcony?"

"It's Him or nobody."

The Modern looked in a mirror. "I'll just tell it to myself." 

The Clown shook his head. "Talking to oneself is the first sign of insanity."

The Modern didn't respond. Instead he began to ask himself all sorts of questions, questions that never answered. After what seemed hours, he stopped.

"There!" he said finally, turning to the Clown. "Don't you see how foolish you are?" 

The Clown smiled and wept all at once, but didn't answer.

The Modern grimaced. "Answer me!" he cried.

"I would be a fool to try."

"At least, sign in sign language what you can't say. Sometimes abstract symbols are better than words."

"It is a perverse generation that asks for a sign, and the only sign it will be given is the sign of Dorian Gray."

And with that the Clown laughed so loud that the Mirror shattered into a thousand little pieces, and then he walked on and left the Modern far, far behind.