Monday, January 09, 2006

comic genius

Today I'm going for a drunken stroll.

I'll search the town for a rational man,

Pour him a drink from the bowl of my skull,

And turn him into a crazy fool.

#1146: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: drunk

I bought a bottle of wine yesterday, took it home and got drunk on it. This morning I'm suffering the consequences. I'm asking myself why the hell I did it. I was unhappy about some things in my life, frustrated over goals not achieved, feeling defeated. In a classic action, I turned to drink. Literally. This morning I turn to Rumi's sort of drunkenness and seek solace, perhaps even answers, there.

Today's quatrain appears in duplicate in Zara Houshmand's index and I've dealt with it already under seeing the mad light. I'll consider it again in light of my recent drunkenness.

It's a fantasy that I have, that this verse could "come true", that people might read Rumi and be transformed from rational men and women into crazy fools, into child-like, spontaneous, whacky, delirious creatures. The child-like quality of the crazy fool had already been advocated by Jesus:

Matthew 18:1-6 (KJV)

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

If this passage is genuinely representative of Jesus' style, then there is still a reward and punishment aspect to his preaching, a residue of the Old Testament style of imparting learning. For me, there is a progress evident in Rumi. The transformation does not take place through the temptation of good things to come (heaven) nor through the fear of reprisal (hell). It comes simply through exposure to a soul which, like Rumi's, is already drunk. It is almost as if this drunkenness is contagious, much like the effect in an auditorium when one person starts to giggle and laughter erupts all around.

The comic genius is perhaps the ultimate pedagogue and let's hope we can always appreciate his contributions. Here is a tribute from a living one to a dead one:

Michael Leunig on Spike Milligan @



At Tuesday, 10 January, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Coincidentally, I too downed a bottle this weekend; however, it was a small malt beverage (Bacardi Silver Black Cherry). Didn't get drunk, but my headache went away. Sometimes it's good to displace Apollo with Dionysus.

BTW, at my critique group last night there was a concensus that you are right about the line:

their own-- their wives'--their childrens' lives

so I'm gonna change it to that. Thanks!

At Tuesday, 10 January, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

Sounds like a great critique group.

Dionysus gets lots of space in my life, lol, it's more a case of letting Apollo have a go now and again. More accurately, I'm like most people with Apollo reigning in some aspects of my life and Dionysus in others.


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