Saturday, May 31, 2014



The way it works is this: Claude receives instructions.  When Claude follows the instructions the quality of his life improves.  He becomes markedly more prone to the experience of actual happiness.  There may even be delicate evidence that he has made a meaningful contribution to the whole, though of course that can always be argued.

The instructions are remarkably non-mysterious.  They are really quite clear.  There is every reason to believe Claude might have an upright and successful life if he could just listen to the instructions, listen and obey and then hunker down to listen some more.

Instead Claude forgets the instructions.  Invariably.  Claude does the wrong thing.  It is not enough to say that Claude does the wrong thing.  Claude does the perfectly wrong thing.  Claude does the most wrong thing possible.  Catastrophe follows.  And Claude is always just downright astonished.

Later, Claude receives the instructions again.  He even practices them, for a very short time, during which his life improves.  Feeling better now, Claude takes the earliest opportunity to do the worst thing conceivable.  To his surprise, he finds that he feels like crap.  Not that this prevents him from choosing, with great care, the worst actions possible and then persevering in those actions.

Then, a breakthrough. Claude receives instructions!  They are the exact same instructions he has received umpteen times before, but they seem totally new to him.  He carefully writes them down -- so that he’ll never forget, never ever in his whole life -- marvelling at their unique clarity, in a series of notebooks wherein the the exact same instructions have been written and rewritten to an extent somewhere between possibly pathological and downright spooky.

“Why can’t life come with instructions?” many people lament, including Claude.  But the truth is that Claude is continually receiving instructions, Claude’s whole life is instructions, instructions he very carefully writes down and then ignores and then is astonished by and then forgets again.

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