Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Embarrassing Soul

So, I've got to do a little chore, related to something that really has nothing to do with anything else, neither blogging, nor work, nor friends nor family. I've got to do it, and I won't say why, but I'm finding it surprisingly difficult.

I have to make a list of two categories of things: things I like, and things I don't like. It's quite broad, there are no subcategories and no limits. They can include anything that can be described using a noun. The only stipulation is that the list has to be truthful. It has to be a list of things I actually like and dislike, not of things I think I ought to like and dislike.

That was the tricky part, the part I didn't quite understand when I agreed to do it.

Maybe part of the problem is that I find, now that I think about it, that I seem to like quite a few things that I think I ought not to like and I'm embarrassed slightly. Smoking, for example. And cheesy sci-fi TV. Admittedly, these aren't exactly soul-killing vices, but they seem to be things that I think I should not like someone I liked to like, if you see what I mean. But at the same time, I find that in actual practice, most of the people I know who like, for example, smoking and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are the people I actually like the best. Of course, there are plenty of things that fall into the category of perfectly respectable preferences; I actually do happen to like sacred polyphony, for example. Quite a lot. But at the same time, I am very fond of Grunge.

One likes to think of oneself as a noble soul, with lots of high-minded things going on between the ears. Sadly, I find I'm not only a member of the human species, but a child of my time and place. Yes, I was raised on classical music on the CBC, but was also very fond of a Saturday morning spent in front of the TV with a bowl of Fruit Loops and Speed Racer. Sure, I read Betjeman, and know the names of the other Metaphysical poets, but I also know all the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song and that knowledge will probably be the last to go.


I've just had a thought, maybe this makes me "complex". (Sure, keep telling yourself that; it worked so well for Sartre.)

I have read over and over some variation on the line, "God knows you better than you know yourself". Of course, we all would like to think it is not true, that we are full up to the nostrils with self-knowledge and insight into our own character, but this little task that looked so simple, seems to prove the truth of that rather irritating spiritual axiom.

I read somewhere, Peter Kreeft's book on the afterlife I think, that a great deal of the pain of purgatory is going to be the experience of finally knowing ourselves completely, in the way that God knows us and knowing exactly how we had failed in life to reach what we ought to have been. It will be the perfectly clear mirror from which we won't be allowed to flinch.

I can see how that might be uncomfortable.


Mark S. Abeln said...

This is an easy assignment. Have a very close friend write up the list for you, and like any ghostwritten book, sign your name to it.

Anonymous said...

Ooh what fun.

I like:
Veggie Booty
Noel Streatfield novels
80s pop music
reading about other textile arts and imagining learning how to do them
shopping on eBay
Kingsley Amis
Kate Bush
hot springs
googly eyes
tormenting telemarketers
WPA murals
Mongolian folk music
the Pogues
organizing my closet
looking pretty
my cats

I do not like:
Ernest Hemingway
Mexican culture
scary scary Spanish religious art
being pregnant
modern public art
going to the doctor
getting manicures
most Europeans
poor housekeeping
trying to get children to study

I could go on, but I'll spare you. - Karen