Pratfalls in the Divine Comedy

Oil painting, Court Jester, Keying Up

KEYING UP – a court jester fortifies his wit with a little brandy – Oil painting by William Merritt Chase – 1875

Regrets – I Had None

When I was a young man, I told my mother that I had no regrets—that everything I had done or failed to do to that point only added to the sum total of me, which sum, in my opinion, seemed to be tallying up just fine. It turns out though, 40 some years later, that I had already accumulated many regrets by then. I just didn’t know it yet.

Now that I’m washed up on the shores of an uncertain dotage, ill-provisioned and with dim prospects, all those early and unseen regrets are coming due like markers to a loan-shark.

Now, I understand perfectly all the places where I went wrong. I know where I didn’t apply myself as I ought, when I skated or took the path of least resistance or effort, where I caved to idle self-indulgence, and where I wasted monumental effort on things that were bound never to pay dividends. I knew what I was doing when I did it, and I understood there would be consequences.

Those things don’t bother me so much. I made trade-offs, as everyone does, based on the way I valued things at the time. That I have changed those valuations in the intervening years may make my decisions lamentable, but it does not make the consequences unfair. I got what I asked for . . . up to a point.

Karma I Get – It’s The Book of Job That Has Me Mystified

My problem is that now I think I’m well past that point. I’m past Karma, past just deserts, past what I bargained for, and well into the uncharted realm of cosmic retribution. I can say, without irony, ‘I don’t know what I did to deserve this.’

Maybe it’s that I made disparaging comments about the so-called Law of Attraction. Maybe it’s that I sprinkle my prayers with profanity and vulgarisms. Maybe it’s that I think Kim Kardashian, who seems to have replaced Paris Hilton on the altar of American celebrity worship, is a waste of otherwise usable oxygen. Maybe it’s because I believe that professional wrestling is more entertaining and realistic than any episode in any city of the Real Housewives—ever. Maybe it’s because I think the Republican presumptive nominee for President is a crackpot and ignoramus, so I’m probably going to vote for the lessor of two evils, who may also be a crackpot and ignoramus. Maybe it’s because, although I profess to be a devout Catholic, I keep writing books and posting blog entries that seem to contradict that position. I don’t know.

Whatever is going on puts me in mind of the Book of Job. I don’t get the Book of Job, but neither can I deny that it is a fascinating study in the fundamental unfairness of things. Job is a victim. He doesn’t start out that way. Initially at least, he has the world by the tail. His God, however, who is also my God, by the way, is a capricious bully who hangs his loyal servant up for sport and wagers with Satan that the poor slob won’t cave. What kind of bullshit is that? Even when Job passes the test and God restores his former status and fortune, Job never really finds out what it was all about. It doesn’t matter to him. God is God, he says in effect, and God can do whatever God pleases without having to answer to mere mortals. (If you want a more entertaining spin on this, please consider reading my latest novel, A Cup of Pending, which examines Job from a more humorous angle.)

Court Jesters: Make Fun of the King and Drink at Work

I have to tell you that this is a completely unsatisfactory ending for me. I’d like it better if Job learned something useful from the exchange, even if he only learned that occasionally God will screw you up for for His own amusement.

Believe it or not, this would make more sense to me than what I’ve managed to cypher out about the Book of Job on my own. I mean, if an angel were to appear to me as if in a dream, and say, in effect, the court of heaven needs a jester and God would like for me to take the job, I would accept the position and even feel a little honored. Doing pratfalls in the Divine Comedy would be way more gratifying than whatever it is I’m doing now, which seems to count for nothing. Maybe I am the court jester. Maybe I’m providing entertainment for a fickle universe with a mean streak. Problem is, just like with Job, no one asked and, so far at least, no one’s bothered to explain.

If you enjoyed this post, even a little, if you found it instructive, even a little, please consider sharing it with your friends by clicking on one or all of the social media buttons below. You will help me grow my audience, and maybe garner yourself some positive Karma in the bargain. Okay, I know. Who am I kidding? If you actually read the post, you already know that positive Karma does not attach to my shit. You could still do me a solid. The choice is entirely yours. Just don’t expect any kind of reward.


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