The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett is a story about old heroes (Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde) giving back to the Gods what the first hero stole. That they are old heroes means they have experience doing what it is that they do — loot, kill, plunder and ravish — without getting killed.
And he’s going to meet the gods because he doesn’t like how they treat humans. They let men grow old and die.
Which brings me to the point of this post — humour. Anything worth doing, is worth doing in a way that makes you laugh.
For it is humour that makes you write a post at 2.14 am after getting drunk with colleagues and gossiping about those co-workers foolish enough to leave the table early.
*Aside: The only way to ensure you are not talked about at a work gathering is to be there.
Which of course brings me to the topic of friends. I have found it best to be around people who inspire you and open new worlds to you — be they of compassion, of faith or of humour.
Be kind to the others and help them with their homework. But if you find one person who wears an armour of humour and profundity (one without the other is an ill-matched outfit) to face the world, you have found your gem. Your hill to die for. And it is a worthy hill.
A person who knows how profound humour is knows the difference between style and fashion.**
Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, has done it most brilliantly.
Charlie Brown stays awake in bed at night and asks, “What is my purpose in this world. Why am I here?” A voice answers back saying, “Why? Where else should you be?”
Because as death says:
***THE HEAVENS CHANGE
WHAT TODAY LOOKS LIKE A MIGHTY HUNTER MAY LOOK LIKE A TEACUP IN A HUNDRED YEARS.
‘That doesn’t seem fair’ [You might say]
NO ONE SAYS IT HAS TO BE. BUT THERE ARE OTHER STARS…
The poems you remember from school are most likely to be the funny ones. It doesn’t mean they are irreverent. Or not romantic:
while you and i
have lips and voices
which are for kissing
and to sing with,
who cares if some
one-eyed son of a bitch
invents an instrument
to measure spring with ?
– e e cummings
Since life, like any epic poem worth noting must have a common thread, it is the achingly funny futility of our existence.
pity this busy monster,manunkind,
not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim(death and life safely beyond)
plays with the bigness of his littleness
-electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange;lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen until unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born-pity poor flesh
and trees,poor stars and stones,but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical
ultraomnipotence. We doctors know
a hopeless case if-listen:there’s a hell
of a good universe next door;let’s go
— e e cummings
Even heartache is funny after a while. All that sighing and moaning, and the black clothes.
Love has gone a-rocketing.
That is not the worst;
I could do without the thing,
And not be the first.
Joy has gone the way it came.
That is nothing new;
I could get along the same-
Many people do.
Dig for me the narrow bed.
Now I am bereft.
All my pretty hates are dead,
And what have I left?
— Dorothy Parker
I laugh at most people, especially those I love most. I imagine my 80-year-old grandfather to be a kind of living legend, dressed in a loin cloth, going to give the Gods a piece of his mind. Actually, that’s most likely to be my grandmother. And after its all done, you’ll find her standing on a mound of bloody bodies with the most angelic smile, saying, “What? What did I do? I don’t believe in violence. You can ask anyone. I won the Guides badge for the most peaceful girl in Girgaum.”
So I leave to you Bob Dylan, not to say he is not a genius, and even Leonard Cohen. ****But give me a Terry Pratchett afterworld, so I can laugh eternally.
* This brilliant observation was made by Gitanjali after a particularly remorseless session of office gossip.
**Fashion is when you wear lycra trousers with slits on the side with a tight tee-shirt that says “Attitude”. Style is when you choose a symmetrical block print that echoes Mughal architectural motifs dyed in vegetable dyes using indigenous methods that have survived centuries. Or dress like a librarian, because demanding for books on time is hot.
*** Terry Pratchett’s Death ALWAYS TALKS LIKE THIS. He doesn’t mean to, but it is expected of him.
**** Nirvana song Pennyroyal Tea: Give me Leonard Cohen afterworld/ So I can sigh eternally.