You know the story of Dionysus — that he was burnt to ashes — died essentially — but the goddess Wisdom rescued his heart. And this is true in our lives, we are constantly dying, but there is a heart or crumb of who is really us who gets rescued by wisdom — or perhaps wisdom counts as the ability to rescue our heart when we die. And start again.
Klaus was the family exchange student from Germany and he said a strange thing at my father’s birthday party. After the old man blew out the candles he said “Do you really believe in George Washington?’ “I do, but…what? And why do you bring him up now Klaus?”
Klaus: Americans believe that George Washington visits the birthday of every American in his spirit form but one must blow out candles or he will be burned.
Me: Americans don’t believe that. Where did you get that idea, Klaus?
And Klaus reveals that his father gave him mimeographed sheets about American culture including the George Washington idea as well as
Why American womens are quiet when they orgasm: they believe the sound of an orgasm feeds bear spirits who will return to kill their children
Why Americans carve a face into a squash on Halloween: the face is the face they will have at their moment of death, and a frightening one will repel Hell demons
Why American food is so bad: to propitiate their Balloon Deity, Ruzmatuzz
and similar falsehoods. “Ah.” said Klaus “My father deliberately lied to me to test his Theory of Exoticism.” Klaus’s father, Herr Professor Oberstein, had a theory of how countries misunderstood other countries by bringing their own fantasies to the table. So Germany had misunderstood the Jews, so Russia had misunderstood Finland, so the Greeks the Persians, and the Cro Magnon the Neanderthal back to beginningless time.
FWOOSH! That life with Klaus burned up, but I was able, like Athena with Dionysus, to pluck from it its heart: its heart for wisdom.
What is the fake tour book we bring with us when we go as tourists or exchange students in another person’s soul, so we never see what is really there, but only what the guidebook says will be there?
And when we visit our own?