Monday, January 10, 2011

His Zen Thing, Man

The itinerant 90's. I carried with me, from state to state, nation to nation, a copy of the Tao Te Ching. In hindsight it wasn't necessary, it was really one passage that hit home every time:
The Tao is like a bellows:
It is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
The more you talk of it, the less you understand.
Hold on to the center.
I take these words to heart, and consider them with the Gospel of John the finest examples of spiritual wisdom produced by our race. Because I'm qualified to make such assertions. Back off.

Something else on which I'm an authority, and I think readers will agree, is TRON. The main character in both films knows a little something about spiritual wisdom.

Zen hacker Kevin Flynn is unique in the annals of science fiction. Nowhere else can you find a guy so actively indifferent to his circumstances. Zapped into the computer? No problem. Improvise a solution and don't sweat the small stuff.

Trapped in the computer for twenty years? Pfft. Catch up on yoga. Grow a beard and wear white Zen-appropriate robes. Do the Yoda thing, man. Don't play by the so-called rules of the game and remove your self from the equation.

Of course, any resemblance to Jeff Lebowski is pure coincidence. Played by the same actor, true, but Jeff Bridges has played many kinds of dudes and Kevin Flynn just happens to be the top of the pig pile.

I went through my dude phases. I'm not an actor, in the theatrical sense. Usual stuff people do, stumbling around trying to grab onto something, anything that makes sense. Even came up with a word for myself: idiosyncretic. A funky portmanteau, I know. What do you expect from a blog called zeitheist? This is where language comes to be mangled. Like Stephen Hawking's theory of black holes, where information is sucked in and spit out in a state of violent rearrangement. That's this blog all over.

Idiosyncretic is what today people think of as the mashup, in spiritual rather than musical terms. Silly word, representative of piling up wisdom from every corner of every belief system you get your hands on. Sooner or later that pile starts to make sense and you realize that you own it. Takes some dude phases (and phrases) to do it, but you get there.


Flynn takes it all in stride. Whatever misfortune falls his way, he goes with the flow. Chips are down, he leaps to do the right thing. "You're messing with my Zen thing, man," but he goes to it. Things calm down. Flynn goes back to meditating, to "knock on the sky and listen to the sound." Not many sci-fi heroes talk like that.

Knock on the sky and listen to the sound. Probably sounds like a pile of mixed-up something. That's what is so weird about Kevin Flynn: he's not trying to tell you what you want to hear, not like every other hero you encounter. How many of them talk in such a way it makes you think?

How many people talk like that?

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