In the year 2022 CE, Paffy Dogstar paid a visit to Soplatotle, the Greek flossopher.* Soplatotle was specialized in the analysis of obtuse modern misery, and Paffy needed advise on how to proceed as an aspiring rockstar after a lifetime of fruitless efforts. The historic encounter took place somewhere in the Arizona desert.
Paffy approached Soplatotle, who was sitting on his pedestal, and asked him, “Soplatotle, why am I being rejected by record labels, production companies, booking agencies, art galleries, art biennials, art manuals, lit mags, nut megs, and magpies?”
Soplatotle raised one of his marble eyebrows, a very subtle facial movement barely visible to the untrained eye; Paffy, as untrained as he was, did not pick up on it. Soplatotle reflected for a moment, then responded, “Listen, Paffy, let me ask you this: do you believe the sky is blue and the sun is golden-yellow, and the sun is in it?”
“In the sky, doghead! Where else?”
“Yes, Soplatotle,” replied Paffy, somewhat confused.
“But Paffy, when the sky is overcast, do you still believe the sky is blue?”
“No, I don’t.”
“So you are saying that the sky is not blue when it’s overcast, although you know that, essentially, it is.”
“Uhm, yes. That’s what I’m saying.”
“Now, my dearest Paffy, do you believe you have talent as a rockstar, doodler, author of wearisome tales, in short, as a total Renaissance mess?”
“I do, Soplatotle.”
“But when you are rejected, do you no longer believe in your talent?”
“That is correct.”
“So Paffy, you are saying that you don’t have talent when you are rejected, even though you know that, essentially, you have talent?”
At this point Paffy was fumigating a little, prompting him to flatulate, causing for an exceptionally large cloud to form below his lightning bolt-shaped tail with Christmas decorations still dangling from it. And with a slight growl in his voice he retorted, “Yes, Soplatotle, because rejected versus selected equals no versus yes, equals night versus day, equals death versus life, equals –“
“Nonsense!” Interrupted Soplatotle, “One day you will break in half if you keep thinking in these opposites. Opposites are each other’s cause and effect and drive people onto the hamster wheel, spinning endlessly without ever finding peace. The only path to freedom is failure. And failure can only be achieved by getting off the hamster wheel.”
“But Soplatotle, why do all the successful rockstars, doodlers, and bestselling wearisome tale tellers look so happy?”
“Think about the blue sky and the overcast sky. What you see is not necessarily what it is. On the contrary, fame is known to do more harm than good. It brings material well-being, but always at the price of something more valuable than money.”
“Soplatotle, I understand and respect what you are saying, but I just want to make a living with my art, not make a fortune.”
“No. Well, if I would make a fortune I wouldn’t refuse it.”
“Paffy, I think you already answered the question of why am I being rejected yourself. It’s as simple as it is. I repeat, you are asking for it if you jump in the ring and play the game. If you stay out of it you won’t be rejected. So be wise and stay away from it. Love, beauty, and joy are right here around you, not anywhere remote, let alone in some perverse dream. Stop being a slave of this obtuse modern misery.”
“Is that your answer, Soplatotle? I could have come up with that.”
“Well, then why didn’t you?”
Paffy let his head drop, perhaps due to the weight of the Santa Claus hat still on it, and he had more doubts than ever before. But, he thought, the old wise dude has a point. Where am I headed? Why don’t I stop and look at where I am, appreciate who I am, and what I have?
He looked around himself. The desert seemed endless, with no visible horizon, like a photographer’s seamless backdrop. Dark, ominous clouds were filling the sky. Suddenly, a number of lightning bolts flashed above his head, followed by a series of deafening thunderclaps.
“Is this the wrath of God?” he asked Soplatotle, who was looking on sullenly.
“Don’t worry, Paffy. It’s just the sun trying to break through the clouds with a sledgehammer.”
In that very moment one giant lightning bolt struck the old wise man and broke him in half. The two Soplatotle halves crashed to the ground, leaving nothing but two piles of rubble, and leaving the pedestal with his name on it without a reason to be. But his mouth was still intact, and miraculously it mumbled, ”And please get rid of those obnoxious Christmas ornaments. The Holidays are over! Next time let’s discuss the meaning of Christmas, and the meaning of Jesus Christ, for Christ’s sake.” Paffy could not hear the man’s words due to the umpteenth thunderclap rattling the sky, and due to his total astonishment.
All Paffy could think was, what striking symbolism! Soplatotle breaking in half! There is hope. Opposites definitely exist. Day versus night, life versus death, selected versus rejected. The man has fallen victim to his own error of judgement!
This epiphany led Paffy Dogstar to continue his voyage on the hamster wheel of life, effectively and repeatedly failing, but still in denial of the benefit of failure as a career objective…
* “We must floss our thoughts daily to remove any calcified ideas building up in the crevices” – Soplatotle
“Death versus life equals nonsense” – Soplatotle
6 thoughts on “On Obtuse Modern Misery”
Soplatotle is definitely a bit of a paradox. How did he become the wise man as opposed to the populace if he hadn’t followed some sort of career path? How would we have learned about him, and from him, if he hadn’t spread the word? And then he reaches the top, finds himself on a pedestal, and then snubs the very pedestal. Food for thought, that’s for sure. Fun food! Can’t wait for your next post!
Thanks for your comment, Giada. Soplatotle didn’t follow a career path, if not a reverse one. He lived an ascetic life and taught those who were willing to learn. We placed him on a pedestal (well, actually I did) to honor his humility and wisdom.
Liz, you never cease to amaze! We’ve long been aware of your skills and accomplishments as a painter and musician, but heretofore your talent as creative writer had been kept largely under wraps. This was a very enjoyable read. What else have you been hiding from us?
Thank you, Paul! Well, I have been hiding the next Paffy fable. I am working on it, but as befits a true RPTP (Reverse Personality with Tendency of Procrastination) like Paffy Dogstar, it may take a while…
No need to lose sleep over the demise of a broken, old sage on a pedestal.
Lightning Bolt will strike again in no time with a powerful reincarnation called : PlatarisOcra –
a pure form of Green Energy and Food for Thought.
Meanwhile Dogstar contemplates the existence of a tiny and joyful creature running Inside an ever-spinning Wheel of Life – (sleeping all day and playing all night ).
Become astute, escape Modern Misery! Go, Paffy, go!!
I agree, Susanne! Thanks for expressing your optimistic, yet somewhat cryptic view on the human condition and whatnot. And you are correct that Paffy Dogstar is stuck on an ever-spinning wheel, but it is a different wheel from the one you describe: It’s the Wheel of Parma, the constant cycle of burb, death, and re-burb. In my next blog post I will explain the concept in detail (with illustration!). So stay tuned! Lizz