Sunday, March 18, 2007

Truth and illusion and Crawpappy's and the thousand dollar pizza

Brian Schwartz headshot by Brian Schwartz

Someone wrote, what is illusion? How can such a concept have meaning? If you see it, you see it. How can it be illusion? And an esteemed friend sent me a story about a $1000 pizza, topped with lobster, creme fraiche and a mountain of caviar. Let me meander around the two.

I'm nearsighted. If I'm walking down the crowded street and see in the distance a fellow eating a slice of pizza topped with ricotta cheese and olives and think, that's caviar and creme fraiche he's eating, he's scarfing a slice of that $1000 pizza... that's an illusion. If I march into that New York City restaurant and eat that $1000 pizza and think, I'm a better person because I ordered that pizza, I will earn respect that's valuable and worth having when the world finds out I ate that pizza... well, that's an illusion of a different sort. But the rich, salty taste that fills my mouth as I eat the pizza I wasted my money on -- that's not an illusion. It's real. It's a taste.

And the taste of life I had last night, sitting in my favorite bar, and more than a little depressed because for weeks I had eagerly anticipated that St. Paddy's Day pullulating hive of activity and instead walked in on a room that was somnolent and silent, the taste of life I had when finally around ten at night the crowds came pouring in, the joy of life I had when finally surrounded by crowds and crowds of loud, sweaty smiling and very happy people — that's no illusion. And I thought about how rare and infinitely complex and beautiful it all was, all those long and dissimilar histories and experiences and lifetimes that shaped and molded all those people at the bar, and the whole universe converging to allow it, when the vast majority of conceivable universes would blow every molecule apart in an instant, or shred it and scatter it between a thousand dimensions... the glory and benevolence of God, some say, or, as others say, a glorious accident. But in any event a miracle, truly glorious and complex and incredible and worthy of awe, worthy of kneeling down before in wonder. Maya, maya, it's just too rare and incredible and full of shining joy to be dismissed as mere illusion. It's the real deal, the million dollar pizza. And if this is just illusion, hey, give me another slice!!

Brian at Crawpappy's

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