Sunday, April 08, 2007


I was driving by the local community college, bar, and grill, and my eyes were taken to their extremely large, highly animated electronic sign announcing, in letters large enough for Godzilla to have written in kindergarten, QUICKBOOKS. They're going to teach students how to master Quickbooks. They're also going to teach them accelerated Excel. Those boys in the software world have always been good at names. From Eudora being named for a short story in the engineers' college textbooks (but which they didn't read) to software makers calling themselves Richochet (gun games) , Black Isle, and Oblivion (role playing games), they've been experts at the art of naming, if not branding.

So, if the Quickbooks is another example like Eudora, where the people behind the name were only half-informed, what is the secrete exegesis of it? Well, there is, of course, the problem that no book is quick. It sure isn't quick to write one. If it's quick to read one, it probably isn't a book, after all, but a pamphlet. Then again, it is, I suppose, a relative term. A week spent reading War and Peace is quick, while a week spent reading Hop on Pop may not be (three links, there: you absolutely have to click on "on" and "Pop" to understand).

"Quick" also means "alive," though. You may "cut me to the quick," if you work for Diebold (or Die Hardest). I can end up exposing the quick, when I bite my fingernails. Can I have a living book? Can I have a book that is perceptive, organic, dynamic, or one that grows? If I have one that grows, can it mature, dodder, and die ("Growth for its own sake is the ideology of the cancer cell," Edward Abbey said, but it was reiterated and expanded by F. Kaid Benfield et al.)? If so, I suppose that's Wikipedia, which is well on its way to droooling down its shirt and mourning the fact that it doesn't get around anymore.

Speaking of names and their selling power, though, perhaps no title has been as successful in drawing in readers who have no business there than that masterpiece of Egyptian and Tibetan branding, the Book of the Dead. What, you ask, do I mean the Necronomicon? Why yes, I do. Next to "The Necropolis" (very 3-D one), it has to be the biggest branding success in history. Along with "The Catacombs" and other terms that had to walk through a hundred penny novels before being redefined, "Book of the Dead" is a great example for "QuickBooks" to aspire to.

You see, I got tricked into reading the Egyptian one. It's about preparing corpses. I've also been to my share of necropoli. They're graveyards. I've even been in catacombs. They're graveyards.

So, let's suppose, instead, a new type of Quick Book -- a book for living. What would such a thing say? "Eat, sleep, reproduce (optional), cease?" Would it say, "Know yourself, for time is running out?" Would it say, "Serve, and know that service is freedom?" Would it say, "Abide?" Would it even say, "Worship your creator, for that is your purpose?" If you're of the atheistical and Beatles bent, would yours say, "Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans" or "All you need is love" or "The love you take is equal to the love you make?" I must say, if any of those were to be the case, even the authentically Orthodox one, I would be quite disappointed. Nor would I read a quickbook that said, "Close up thy Byron, open thy Goethe" (and, implicitly, "go do something passionate").

Thing is, life doesn't seem to need a book, as it happens without its own willingness and continues against any superimpositions like will. You might be tempted, then, to say, "Forget your quick books: living needs no guide." Well, Mr. Smartypants, the dead don't need no stinking book, neither. They're going to go right on being dead without anyone painting on their coffin lids. They can't see the pictures of beetles (or Beatles) and be inspired to hop up.

My long time reader will recognize that there is some barb coming, some moral, and it's going to be corny. My attentive reader, if I had one, would look at the calendar. Yes, I admit it. It's going to be cheap.


Ok. After I went by the commie college and bar & grill, I hooked onto a state highway (this was in pursuit of my mandatory feast for the day, which was a triple burger du fromage (link takes you directly to the direct thing that sent me to the restroom for hours after)), I saw a number of churches. I collect what I call "populist expressions of admonitory or exhortative religious sentiment" (sorry about the Southern slang, there), so I pay attention to marquees. I noticed, though, that the various churches, which are usually in competition with one another on these matters (and the best is an AME Church nearby, where the pastor has very literate and nice sayings) were in accord. Most had "He Lives" up.

The coincidence was nearly too much. First, QuickBooks, then "He Lives" various places. Naturally, I thought instantly of the old (1988) John Carpenter film, "They Live," which, I was told, had been misread by some of our Southern scholars as "they live" (with the second word an adjective rather than verb). It was a natural jump, especially since that movie is all about signs, too, and it features instructions for profitable living reduced to simple imperatives.

However, I thought that the proper meaning of "He Lives" was a great contrast with this absurd mental drift of mine. In fact, the two concepts exist like a metaphor. Metaphor, acorrding to my understanding, is the distance between the actual words and the implicit or virtual words used. The tension between them is the message of the metaphor, and metaphor is, in fact, the only way that the infinite is apprehensible. We see the shadowplay that Plato talked about, and we do not guess the forms outside. Instead, the real forms and their shadows differ from one another, and the difference is the apprehension of the real.


Ok, let's go back to something concrete: He Lives. This is the meaning. He Lives, and the way that He lives is eternal and not a process. It is organic, and yet it is essential. It is infinite, and yet it is perceptible. It is always the same, and yet it is each person's individual and particular salvation. The single sacrifice and passion takes away the "sins of the world" not as a series of particularized children on Santa's naughty list, but as a single forever event, an event that is always in the present because outside of time, and always particularized in the subsuming of all mankind into one suffering, rebellious, and misguided thing. The Quick Book is merely to be, not to live as a series of events or a line through time or a track through the waters, but to be a whole statement at all times. Mind you, there is nothing you can do to achieve this. You're already doing it. All you can do is be aware of it, to know what you say, and to mean, and you mean because He Lives eternally.