07 June 2008

Gods on the Wrong Side of the Tracks

So, what does happen to gods once people stop believing in them ...

The apartment is cluttered, crowded. Take out food containers are piled in one corner. The place smells of stale sweat, smoke, and mold. A big guy in t-shirt and sweats with the look of a former athlete who has gained weight and lost muscle, sits on a stool, puffing a cigarette. His name is Zeus.

“These gods today are pathetic. They don’t even know how to intimidate,” spit out Zeus
“Well, they’ve learned their lesson,” said Guan-Yu, formerly employed as the Daoist god of war and now dressed in t-shirt and jeans.
“What lesson?” If looks could hurl thunderbolts, Guan-Yu would have been singed.
“That you can ‘poof.’ Disappear. Become nothing. People can turn you into a myth, a curiosity of literature, without so much as a backwards glance. Suddenly you’re trapped in high school lockers. Poof.”
Zeus let loose with a string of profanities that made the pictures rattle.

“Why do you have to be so crass?” asked Ek-Chuah, the former Mayan god of business and chocolate, a god still uneasy around the more violent gods even after centuries in their company.
“Of course I’m crass,” spit Zeus. “I didn’t have to be gentle. I relied on force and intimidation. I threw lightning bolts.”
“Now he just smokes,” said Loki, the former Norse god of mischief.
Zeus let loose with another string of profanities. No one batted an eye.

“What if we don’t exist at all? It is one thing to be demoted, but what if we don’t even exist?” asked Soma, the Indian god of alcoholic beverage and supreme truth.
“Oh, here he goes with that crap again,” said Zeus.
“Well of course we exist,” said Ek-Chuah.
“You think that you exist. You might merely be a figment of imagination.”
“You’re drunk again,” Zeus said.
“Of course he’s drunk,” said Loki. “He was the god of drunk.”
“The god of truth. Truth. I did not invent the path to enlightenment, I just pointed the way,” and Soma sipped again. “Don’t you remember Descartes? ‘I think therefore I am?’”
“Oh that!” spat Zeus, who had been in a bad mood for about 1500 years. “I hate those philosophers. Who are you going to believe? A philosopher or a god?”
“You are not a god,” said Soma, blearily eyed.
“I used to be.”
“But you aren’t really one now.”
“Well, no, nobody was really a god after they’ve stopped being one,” said Loki, while Zeus fumed.

Thoth, the former Egyptian god of liberals arts, said, “It is so unfair to be lumped in with people like Dickens, Proust, and Faulkner. I never meant for my words to taken as literature. And I wasn’t even properly quoted. Those mystics who actually listened to me never did listen particularly well. I’d say a few things and they’d go off on some tangent, a riff on my throat clearing, and suddenly there were 5 stories falsely attributed to me. It is so demeaning to be judged by someone else’s intent, to find your pronouncements suddenly dismissed as poor poetry. It is like being told after the fact that you had farted in the wrong key.”

“Being mis-quoted is not so bad. I just hate not having money,” said Ek-Chuah, the former god of business. “It is so humiliating. Especially for me.”
“Money is not a problem for me,” said Soma.
“How do you get money?” asked Ek-Chuah.
“I borrow heavily from novelists. I mean, it’s only fair. They borrow heavily from us.”
Zeus hollered, “Damn Joseph Campbell. He would not loan me a dime.”
“I would have thought that he, of all people, would have been willing to loan money to a demoted god,” said Thoth.
“Let’s not start that argument again,” said Loki, the unemployed Norse god of mischief. “If you want money, you just have to invest.”
“Please! I don’t want to hear it!” Zeus said.
“But you need to hear it,” Loki said. “This is one of the advantages of immortality. Compound interest makes even the most measly investment turn into a fortune over a millennia.”
“Oh, sure,” Zeus said. “Like your sure-fire plan for world peace? The can’t lose investment?”

“The worst is to be a god of war,” said Guan Ya. “There are too many of us now, all unemployed.”
“It is not as though there aren’t still lots of wars,” said Loki cheerily.
“Actually, there has been a drop off, but you’re right. That’s not it,” said Guan Ya.
“So why are so many gods of war unemployed?”
“Now they all worship technology and big defense budgets. They don’t sacrifice to gods. They hire scientists and lobbyists.”

“I just miss being worshipped,” said Thoth sadly.
“They never really worshipped us anyway,” said Ek-Chuah. “They always just worshipped the fame and fortune they thought we might give them.”

With that, a gloom fell over the apartment. Soma belched. Zeus lit up another cigarette. Loki opened his “Investment Schemes for Deposed Gods” book. Ek-Chuah looked up and said, “So, does anyone know what Aphrodite and Astarte are doing tonight?”


exskindiver said...

What is Aphrodite doing? I hear she's running infomercials that promise to cure cellulite, acne, and tangled hair. She's given up on love and now just worries about her image. Sad, really. But hey, you have to expect a 3,000 year old woman to feel a little self-conscious about her looks.


Jennifer H said...

You're a clever, clever man.

I could use a millenium or two of compound interest. (But right now.)

Ron Davison said...

Very clever. Maybe I need to do a second post about the goddesses. But it just occurs to me - nobody every really stops believing in the goddesses, do they?