After Reading Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 Again (Poem)

bible

Introduction

This is probably the poem of mine that I am most proud of. It’s riddled with flaws, yes, but I think it has a little merit, too. Either way, I thought I’d like to share it here. I already posted it on my YouTube channel.

It’s my reading of Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 (in the Bible, if you don’t know what I’m going on about) in the light of my Epicurean mindset (as in Epicurus). Like all poems, this one is abandoned not “finished” (that is, I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked until I just stopped and never went back to it).

After Reading Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 Again
by Bryan A. J. Parry

The reason Nature seems to test mankind
With cold and stone-hard stares, and unmoved mind,
Is just to make him see what’s plainly true:
He’s like an animal, nay, is one too.
You don’t believe me? Why then, let’s just think.
As man is born, so is the beast, then blink
Your eyes, and both have died, caught in some snare,
Or else disfigured far beyond repair
So soon thereafter breathe the final breath,
Dispatched to earth, the source of life and death.
So man has no advantage o’er his brother,
As wretched death claims one, he claims the other.

Did I say “wretched”? Actually, it’s worse.
The brilliant mind of man can seem a curse;
Illumination, yes, but searing heat,
So awestruck man performs a wondrous feat:
He stoops, then squints, and fumbles in the gloom,
So hastening through his misery his doom.
But animals, whose brains are dim, live thus:
They flit, they drink, they eat: no sordid fuss.
A man of reason can’t conceal his mirth:
Poor man is heaven-bound, yet beast to earth!?
Kind Nature’s given beasts to simple pleasures.

If only man would use his mind: it measures
Out every thing that he could ever need.
They are: to flit, to drink, to love, to feed.
This recognition of kind Nature’s goal
Produces gladness, elevates man’s soul;
The joy and pleasure transcend mortal frame:
This soaring spirit ills can never tame.

 

featured image edited from http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jMyo8OMjLcI/TbbH-mcqRhI/AAAAAAAAA2U/lRaYT6u5_9k/s1600/kjv1611.jpg

© Bryan A. J. Parry

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RIP Robin Williams: A Personal Tribute by Bryan Parry

[This post contains some language that may be deemed offensive]

RobinWilliams_article-2535891-1A80FA3A00000578-643_634x583

Hairy, bipedal, primate, Robin Williams, passed away on Monday. The ex-actor (dead, remember) and 1998 Academy Award Winner died from an apparent suicide. No longer will we hear him scream his catchphrase Goood Morning Vietnaaaaam! – because his contractual obligations on that film expired more than 25 years ago, and he is dead (See previous parenthetical comment).

My wife’s first reaction: “Nooo! Why not Brad Pitt instead…?” [1] Why not Brad Pitt, indeed: the question on everyone’s lips. My wife loved Robin Williams so much: he was her idol, second only to Patrick Swayze… “All my favourite people are dying… since I met you”, my wife eyed me suspiciously at breakfast as we heard news of Williams’s demise. Swayze’s death was long-coming and, although sad, completely expected. But when Swayze finally gave up the ghost (see what I did there? Also, note: the only thing funnier than a pun is a pun explained or pointed out), my wife didn’t let me get any sex for six months. Perhaps mentally picturing a dead man every time she let me have my wicked way was just a turn off for her. I’m terrified the same may happen now that Robin Williams is gone: what were you thinking, Robin!?

Robin-Williams-movie-poster-9pk-set-1

Robin Williams’s films helped define my childhood

But quite apart the imminent loss of nookie, I am genuinely in shock and very upset. How can you feel this for someone you’ve never met, never said “hi” to – this numbness and the sense that nothing is real or meaningful anymore? Robin Williams was 63, and I, a mere 29 (chronologically speaking, although psychically my Wii Fit says I am 43), I have never known a world without him. Sure, I’ve never known a world without A. Robinson from Crosby-on-Eden in Carlisle, either [2], but the difference is I grew up with Robin Williams. His films bled into my mind and helped form my outlook on life – for better or worse(!) He was like a kindly uncle you’d see once a year, and who’d never fail to bring a smile to your face. Indeed, me being a member of Generation Y, Robin Williams and his films practically raised me as my parents couldn’t frankly be bothered to adequately balance work commitments with nurturing their sole sprog.

Bicentennial_man_film_posterThe eerie thing is this: the week leading up to his death, me and the wife randomly decided to binge on Robin Williams. We had a Robin Williams-athon: two and sometimes three of his films, every day, for a week. It’s like we almost knew what was coming as we drunk him in… it’s certainly difficult to deny that this constitutes overwhelming evidence for ESP. During this Robin Williams-athon, we rediscovered some films we’d forgotten about, and I broke down in tears at the conclusion of Bicentennial Man, having one of my periodic existential crises. I consoled myself with the knowledge that the film was based on a story by brainy sci-fi heavyweight Isaac Asimov, and that therefore it was intellectually valid to cry at a Robin Williams flick: truth be told, you made me cry so many times, you hairy, stout, hook-nosed, wonderful bastard!

My idols growing up – not just “guys I liked a bit” –, and I swear I’m not kidding: Rik Mayall (died two months ago), Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, and Rolf – seriously. Unlike the last two, however, Robin Williams didn’t enjoy (allegedly) touching up prepubescent cock and/or vag. He was by all accounts a giving and kindly man. Yet he had his dark side that we’re all hearing so much about now. But I don’t want to dwell on that: Robin Williams brought me so much joy, and that’s how I’ll remember him.

(Oh, I also idolised John Cleese, but nothing much has happened to him (the odd divorce aside), so mentioning him would spoil the dramatic point I was making).

MorkMindy

Mork and Mindy: not a funny show

I remember as a young child in the late eighties watching re-runs of Mork and Mindy, the show that launched Williams’ career. Not because it was a good show – it wasn’t: we watched it because there were only four channels in those days and it was raining outside. But I thank God he did make that programme or else the vastly superior semi-remake Third Rock From The Sun would likely never have been made at all (I imagine). And without Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams probably never would have broken through in quite the way he did, and for that reason too, I’m thankful for Mork and Mindy.

Thank you, Mr. Williams.

  • Thank you for inventing Flying Rubber (Flubber): I had a great day out that one time my aunty-to-be took me to the cinema in order to transparently ingratiate herself to me such that I would consent to her marrying my uncle.
  • Thank you for being the foil in The Birdcage and giving us a delicate, beautiful performance.
  • Thank you for Jumanji: this film inspired many a daydream, may have helped instill a love of boardgames which lasts to the present day, and I also won a t-shirt from a Jumanji themed Twister ice cream competition, a win I enjoyed as I was suffering personally at the time.
  • Thank you for the tender loving father and for the cross-dressing slapstick in Mrs Doubtfire.
  • Thank you for The Fisher King: your depiction of Parry was moving and the blurring of reality and fantasy which you portrayed so well meant a lot to a teen obsessed with the nature of reality and concerned by his own failing mind.
  • Thank you for Good Will Hunting: it was the first film of yours I saw which impressed upon me your incredible talent.
  • I want to say thank you for Hook, but it never quite did it for me. Think it’s because I’ve always kind of been suspicious of Peter Pan (and had long since conflated Peter Pan and Michael Jackson sleepovers in my mind). But, yeah, okay, for my wife’s sake: Thank you for Hook!
  • Thank you for Big… no, wait, that was Tom Hanks. Never mind.
  • Indeed, Thank you for every single film you ever made. That includes the odd dud, because even they meant I got to spend more time with you.

So, thank you, Robin Williams (I know he can’t hear me because of the aforementioned being dead and all, but these sorts of things are always addressed to the person regardless of how little sense that makes), thank you so much for all the laughs, all the tears. You touched my heart so many times. No, I’m not one of those people who became a teacher because of the Dead Poet’s Society [3], but you made a difference to my life, you made my existence richer and more joyful. I miss you already.

RIP Robin Williams

RIP Robin Williams: 1951 – 2014

 

References & Notes

[1] Funny ‘cos it’s true.

[2] http://www.thephonebook.bt.com/publisha.content/en/search/residential/search.publisha?Surname=Robinson&Initial=&Street=&Location=WARWICK+BRIDGE++%7b+Carlisle+-+CUMBRIA%7d&OriginalLocation=Warwick&Range=xloc

[3] I am actually a teacher, but I became one because I love dreary form-filling and taking abuse from colleagues and students.

featured image from http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/01/08/article-2535891-1A80FA3A00000578-643_634x583.jpg

“Robin Williams’s films helped define my childhood” image from http://www.krock1057.ca/files/Robin-Williams-movie-poster-9pk-set-1.jpg

Bicentennial Man image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicentennial_Man_(film)#mediaviewer/File:Bicentennial_man_film_poster.jpg

Mork and Mindy image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e7/MorkMindy.jpg

Robin Williams with a cap image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_williams

© 2014 Bryan Ashley James Parry

Random Images 1

Every so often, I come across random images on the web. Funny or quirky stuff, the like of which I’ve never seen before. Fifteen years or so worth of randomness. Looking back through my old PC folders, I’ve just realised: that’s a hell of a lot of images!

So once a month, in order to (1) tickle / delight / disturb you, (2) give you an insight into my psyche, (3) post without actually bothering to do any work, I will post up a random image. No words, no fuss, just pure randomness.

I’ll try to credit the source for each of these wonderful images, but seeing as I’ve saved them over a period of a decade and a half… I don’t exactly have the sources written down. But please let me know the source if you know the source so I can credit the source.

Here’s the first one for you. Every person I’ve ever showed it to has gone either, “Yeah… I don’t get it”, or, “Yeah… that’s not funny”. Well. You’re wrong.

Art_Expert

text © 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

In the Year of Our Lord

egghead-marvel

There are so many reasons to get the hump these days.

  • A seemingly never-ending recession, and economists who seem to be more interested in whether it is (1) a double-dip, (2) a “trip-dip”, or (3) merely an illusion, the result of a stray decimal point.
  • Human rights atrocities which seem destined to send us into another long and costly foreign war with no defined end goal or strategy.
  • Justin Bieber.

But no issue inflames passions to the same extent as the “common era” system of dating historical events

catedit

Wait, what!??!

What, sorry? That doesn’t inflame you? You don’t know what I’m talking about?

I am “of course” talking about the habit, now nigh-on universal amongst academics, of giving dates in the form of 2014CE, where CE means “Common Era”. This is opposed to the “usual” way of writing “AD” (which doesn’t mean “after death”, as some suppose: it means anno domini “in the year of our lord”).

Basically, academics have realised (because they’re so deep and insightful) that the system of dating things “BC” (before Christ) or “AD” comes from Christianity… and is therefore not really appropriate for objective, neutral, and politically correct purposes. Unfortunately, the genius solution (irony alert) they have adopted, of using CE and BCE (before Common Era), is… still derived from Christianity.

How’s that?

Because 2014 CE is… 2014 AD. And 1066 CE is… 1066 AD. And 54 BCE is… 54 BC. So, despite the cosmetic changes, they are still using the same dating system! It’s like calling a “shovel” a “spade”; it’s still the same thing. And yet these egg-heads parade their intelligence and flaunt their superiority by using their hokey (B)CE system. I’ve even been reprimanded for writing BC/AD instead of (B)CE in a university essay!

The funny thing is this: I’m an atheist. That’s right: I don’t even believe God exists(!) So the chances of me being a Christian, or pushing a Christian agenda, are almost nil. And yet I say: let’s keep the BC/AD system! Why change it? I mean, it works well, we know what we’re talking about when we say “2014 AD”, and who cares whether the acronyms really mean “before Christ” and “in the year of our Lord”? Are we renaming the days of the week because they are named after heathen Gods? [1] Wednesday: Woden’s Day; Thursday: Thor’s Day; and Monday: Moon day — and the moon’s not even a god, it’s just a big lump of rock!

We’re not French here, for heaven’s sake! (note: unless you are French, that is) So why should be go around binning stuff just because it doesn’t fit in with our ideology? Look: BC/AD works, everyone gets it, so why change it?

But you know what, if you are going to change it, let’s do it properly. Instead of this stupid (B)CE system — which is just the BC/AD system with a facelift — let’s make up a new system which is truly global, neutral, and objective.

Excited-Businessman
God, this is exciting! I know!

We need to pick an event that has global significance, not just significance “local” to any particular group — such as the birth of Jesus.

One of the most significant events in recorded human history, something that changed it all, something that literally made recorded human history possible: the invention of writing. Writing allowed poetry to be passed on over thousands of years, business accounts to be “cooked”, lewd graffiti to be scrawled in public toilets, and thousands of Hitler ‘taches to be drawn on countless page three girls up and down this green and pleasant land since c. 1965 AD/CE.

This glorious moment, the invention of writing, happened in around 3100 BC(E). So there we go: blammo! Welcome to the year 5114 WrE (Writing Era), A.K.A. 2014 CE/AD. Or anno, err, scriptorius… whatever.

Having said that, let’s not be wankers. Let’s just keep BC/AD, you stupid brilliantly stupidly intelligent egg-headed moronic genius dimwit boffs!

But having said that, if you do insist on changing, change to my system, for it is better, yea, and do yield unto me a monthly tithe for use of my system. Yea.

© 2014 Bryan A. J. Parry

References and Notes

[1] Oh God, I might just have planted the seed in their twisted, egg-headed heads! Oh wait, no I haven’t; nobody reads my blog. Huzzah!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22277955

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jeremywarner/100024327/nevermind-the-triple-dip-recession-the-double-dip-may-have-been-an-illusion-too/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/8737038/To-BC-or-BCE.html

featured image from http://comiclists.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/egghead-marvel.jpg

cat image edited from original at http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/06/06/c1/0606c15a9eda9e832f9ad6ba38d35f5b.jpg

excited man image from http://spiritualhealingsource.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Excited-Businessman.jpg