Friday Funhouse 17: Purgatorio


Fun is in Da House!!  And so are you.

You might be wondering how I’m fixing to follow my last melancholy post with yet another dose of scheduled stupidity while retaining some sense of continuity.  Fear not, my understandably skeptical friends.  I’m confident that I can radically change my tone while further exploring similar subject matter.  I can be quite versatile that way.

More than once whilst in the throes of morbid self-pity, I’ve imagined myself poised to perform a final act of melodramatic pathos only to be distracted by the nagging voices of my parents reminding me of the Catholic concept of Purgatory.  Here’s how defines this vague afterlife interim of penance: The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified”. It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned”.  The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven. 

Let’s ignore for a moment the stupefyingly contradictory nonsense of that last line alleging that we must suffer “temporal punishment” (what??) for sins “already forgiven”.  Like any authors of moralist cosmologies, the scribes behind the Catechism are willing to employ considerable mental gymnastics to imbue the universe with our human proclivities for guilt and retribution.  But Purgatory — Dante’s beloved cosmic waiting room with back issues of Redbook and Car & Driver strewn about the dusty end tables — strikes me as having more in common with a belief in reincarnation than initially meets the eye.  What if all of us already have pulled that trigger (or stepped in front of that bus or ate that gas station burrito) only to find ourselves right back where we were before the performance of that not-so-fateful act experiencing an afterlife that is disappointingly identical to the life we were trying to abandon?  In other words, this is it.  Escape, even that which we imagine will accompany the deaths of our physical bodies, is an illusion.  Perhaps heaven and hell are just dangled before us like a carrot and a stick to keep us feeling like there is hope and purpose while we go on and on and on being exactly who we’ve always been ad infinitum.  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, Curmudgeon without end.  Amen.

Were this to be true, it’s still not a reason to despair.  The implication of my little theory presented above is that we are none-the-wiser every time we die and then immediately pick right up where we left off.  And if this still sounds like a drag, just think about all of those confused babies who find themselves floating around in some nondescript region called Limbo because their damn parents were too confidently cosmopolitan to deign get their offspring to a baptismal fount?  Speechless, spastic babies just drifting aimlessly through space, drooling and bumping into one another like colicky billiard balls.  Now don’t you feel ashamed for having found your comparatively stimulating lot in life and death so unfair?

Depressing waiting rooms and floating babies.  It took many learned men a very long time to perfect this hilariously moronic metaphysical farce and their hard work paid off because its influence remains as strong as ever in the 21st century.

Here’s the upshot of what I’m trying to get at here: everything is funny, without exception, whether you feel like you’re in on the joke or not.  Those who insist that misery is a virtue are nothing more than unwitting comedians (what they call “straight men” in the biz).  In just a moment, I’ll let the brilliant Patton Oswalt further expand on this theme but in the meantime, I will leave those who are still unconvinced of the value of living with what ought to be reason enough to keep fighting the good fight — there are dogs here:


‘Nuff said.

Take it away, Patton:


23 thoughts on “Friday Funhouse 17: Purgatorio

  1. As we know, the Universe is absurd, and comedy is some part temporal displacement of the absurd, therefore given enough time, the Universe should become one big joke. Perhaps you’ve simply discovered this before all of us, laughing to the grave, today, tomorrow or, if medical breakthroughs hold true, when the Universe itself last laughs. (I’ve eaten way more than is my legal responsibility of my share of LeanCuisine.)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Paul, I love your visionary spiritualism.

    Here’s Blake again. Interestingly, he wrote his Heaven and Hell as a feedback to a book by a Swedish philosopher who had a very simplified version of the afterlife – the good go to Heaven, whereas the bad are down in Hell.

    Being a non-conformist and no-church goer (read: without annoying religious rules to get in the way), he refused to accept that the world is all good or bad, all black or white. Life was, he thought, more complex than that. So, he basically questioned the whole idea imposed by the Church. Don’t we all, we wondered, have a bit of good and a bit of bad inside us? And isn’t that after all a good thing?

    As for Dante’s Inferno….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Temporal punishment,” eh? I suppose that’s why we always refer to the DMV as purgatory. Your take on the Sisyphus-esque endless cycle of shit is depressing in just the right kind of way, at least for this reader.

    Sad to say, I’ll probably be floating around with all of those babies. Now, that truly sounds like hell; other people’s kids suck way worse than mine.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never been a Bob’s Burgers guy. I got all up in Rick and Morty during my parental leave, and I wanted to hear a lot more of him on the Hive Mind / Assimilation episode. I feel like I see too many real-tiny cameos, not enough of the good stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow. Near-identical plot arcs for us. I watched Pickle Rick on a whim (we must have had it on some lame on-demand feature with Sling… it’s gone now… fleeting is the nature of streaming entertainment). After that, I promptly bought seasons one and two to digest over that last month of leave. WORTH IT! However, I also feel like a Johnny-come-lately with that one. In fact, I kind of convinced myself that it looked really stupid, was far inferior to MY Adult Swim preferences in college (Space Ghost, Brak Show, Sealab, ATHF). Oddly enough, my brother in-law is currently doing the same thing (making fun of wubba lubba dub dub without realizing Rick uses it ironically), so I’m trying to help him see the light.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Rick & Morty and Bob’s Burgers notwithstanding, Adult Swim simply was better back in the day due to the classics you listed. While ATHF is by far my favorite of all those, whenever I’m able to catch an old episode of The Brak Show, I find that I laugh uncontrollably for reasons beyond my comprehension.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Brak Show humor is so stupid. Our laughing hysterically, as Rick would say, defies all logic. Half of the time it’s simply the way he delivers lines. Reminds me of Bobcat Goldthwaite.

        Curmudgeon, where do you live? AZ? I for damn sure would like to meet up for a beer and smoke and a chat at some point before I die.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. New Mexico. And I agree that such a meet up needs to occur before one or the other of us gives up the ghost. However, if the stupidity outlined in the post beneath which we’re commenting turns out to be true, then our time remaining for doing such a thing is infinite.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I generally try to pick out one or two parts of each post I like best and muse lyrically upon them in some expounding way in the comment box, but this time I just have to resubmit the whole thing in quotes:

    Okay, I won’t actually do that, but I could. Your transition from one of the deepest, most heartfelt compositions I’ve ever had the pleasure of absorbing, to a Funhouse for the Ages, with an unreasonably perfect amount of zen sapience entwined, was astounding. Plus you made me laugh out loud at “speechless, spastic babies just drifting aimlessly through space, drooling and bumping into one another like colicky billiard balls” while I finished my gas station burrito. And you included the dog.

    It’s like you wrote this for me.

    Patton Oswalt was brilliant, as you said, but in the scheme of things, he should be opening for you.

    Excellent post, my brother.

    Never leave town again. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! We do have a place, in town, called El Delicioso Burrito that is, actually, a Mexican food place inside of a Valero gas station. It’s a town favorite; very authentic. We eat gas station burritos all the time. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s