The Gilgamesh Spiel

There was a Jewish community where on Purim instead of reading the book of esther they read the book of gilgamesh.

This isn’t exactly true, but something like it is true. You respect your father. And I respect my father. But they were very different men, your father, and my father. They were very different fathers and perforce they taught us something very different by respect.

And I think that how to teach people to respect themselves is a very difficult thing. People find it so easy to respect other people and ask other people for permission to think a thought, to go to the bathroom, to live to die, but if you ask them if they respect themselves they will get into a tizzy. Because what would it mean to ask yourself permission and be afraid you won’t get it?

It doesn’t make any sense but it happens all the time.

When people become so disrespectful of themselves that they are afraid to do anything they call the people who tell them that it is okay to live their lives, that they should respect themselves saints. They call them priests, they call them gods, they call them wizards. And they respect them like crazy. But they still don’t respect themselves.

Because respect is a mixture of love, hatred, and fear. And there is a real personality test, known to wizards — of course it is not really a test, not the way wizards use the word “test”, and wizards do not believe in personalities — at most they believe in the four humors and the horoscope and nowadays they believe in both of these less and less — as if the alphabet needs more letters, or we forgot how to pronounce the old letters so the poems that used to rhyme no longer rhyme — but there is a real “personality” “test” — and a person you know is just a mask and a test is like when you smash a cup hard to see if it will break — you can do the same thing with a mask — in fact if you don’t do it, what are you doing? do you even know it is a mask? — anyway (not literally *any* way, you know, but many ways) the real personality test is to see where the self-respect is missing.

Do you fail to love yourself? Then you need a new mother.

Do you fail to hate yourself? Then you need a new father.

Do you fail to fear yourself? Then you need a new monster.

Fahter, mother, monster hold hands and dance in a ring and each of the people in the community takes turns standing in the middle.

And that’s the Gilgamesh Spiel!


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