After an honorable stint in public service Barack changed his name to first Benedict and then Baruch, and devoted himself to using words to bless.
I was puzzled by Rebbe Nachman (Hasidic sage and short story writer, Ukraine b.1772 d. 1810) because he extolled simplicity — he used to say “Ay! Prustik!” to his followers and “Prustik” really means simplicity in the sense in which say of somebody that he is “simple” — i.e. it is a hair’s breadth from “stupid” — but himself was smart and convoluted as a ram’s horn, a proto-post-modern Kafka weaving self-referential kabbalistic novellas in the shtetl.
How? Why? Why would somebody so complicated be so in favor of simplicity? And it has, you know as the kids like to say, a political dimension. Because he founded a little guru cult which believes all sorts of simple stuff — that Nachman himself is the Messiah, basically magic, that he had secret books with secret messages. No better than Dan Brown fascist-traditionalist hoo-ha. So it’s, so to speak, a bummer. All that intelligence just to start another dopey cult. What good is it?
Baruch said: Do you think he was just a sad tormented guy, that his intelligence brought him no comfort, so out of kindness he advocated stupidity.
No, I don’t think that. I said to Baruch. That’s a soap opera. That’s boring. That’s stupid. I don’t believe life is so boring.
Barack smiled — a winning smile! Right. So then we have to say that he bound the wing of the bird in order to make the bird enjoy it even more when it flew free!
Like Bach, he said. At his best Bach gets more and more dissonant and you can’t wait for it to resolve. But get this. The old Lutheran maestro never resolves, or at his best he does not resolve in rest. He resolves in motion. As if an airplane plummeting to earth pulls out of a dive but doesn’t land, but just lands on top of a much bigger, faster airplane.
I get it.
What do you think of Philip K. Dick he asked me later that evening, after coffee?
Great science fiction writer, great gnostic. He took the cheesey stage machinery of pulp science fiction and used it in the service of deep ideas about reality and man’s place in an absurd universe.
You’re being a little simple said Benedictus. Maybe he was able to do that because those Gnostic Heresiarchs were doing cheesey science fiction all along.
I don’t agree! I said. I think those heresiarchs were bending the wing, and Philip K. Dick let that wing finally fly free!
I loved my idea! I loved my President!
You got it he said as he helped me into my car. I was really drunk. I had had interesting conversations, met a major celebrity, and drunk martinis, wine, and port. Do you know what you call that?
I did not.
A Philip K-Denza.