Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Meaning of Life

Over the years I have opened many, many query letters from people who have found the meaning of life, or the one true answer, or however you want to put it. I think Christmas brought out the crazies, because literally 3/4's of today's queries were what I just said. Let me now impart to you the secret to ultimate happiness:

(1) Find G-d.
(2) Do good stuff.
(3) Don't do bad stuff.
(4) Appreciate the things you have, even if one of them is cancer or something.

Oh wait, that's the message of every single religion ever. My bad. Nothing to see here. Move along.

23 comments:

Cathy in AK said...

Makes me think of that little warning label on take-out coffee cups, "Caution! Contents hot!" Well, duh.

jjdebenedictis said...

I'm laughing my butt off at your last sentence in particular. Thanks for a great post! :-D

Anonymous said...

Or as Kathy Griffin said in her Emmy acceptance speech:

A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now.

Think she could get a book deal?

Anonymous said...

LOL I'm starting to feel better and better about my book now...

Kathy Griffin is my new hero :D

BuffySquirrel said...

Hmm, appreciate cancer? In some aesthetic sense, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you all need to go through some bad stuff to understand. Trite, yes. But it will happen to you, too. Trust me.

Chro said...

You forgot the 5th and most important part of achieving happiness.

5) Buy this book.

NoExpertsNeeded said...

If I looked hard enough, I'm sure I'd find your "Dear Author" rejection letter among the others that serve as wallpaper in my office. I'm (somewhat) ok with my own 'meaning of life' book getting rejected...I get it. But your post, very funny and valid, did indeed raise my hopes for our society.

Although awful for you, I'm glad to learn that 3/4 of your queries were on the 'meaning'. What would it say about society if 3/4 of the letters were on "How to Save Ms. Spears?" Or will that lot come in today's mail...Great post!

Austin said...

Unfortunately, those religions do get a bit dicey on the specifics... But who needs G-d when you can get celebrity gossip?

X said...

"Hmm, appreciate cancer? In some aesthetic sense, perhaps?"

Because dying of cancer is SOO beautiful. Everything cold, choking on your own blood. Your flesh turns grey. Can't move your arms. Writhing, mumbling, eyes don't close. Agony, inexpressible anguish. Craping yourself. Ah! The love!

Prem said...

And yet, they're still not marketing as broad as they could. Lost me and others in the Dawkins crowd with point 1.

Anonymous said...

Responding to anonymous 11:49 -- I have been through plenty of bad stuff, and fervently subscribe to all four points of "the meaning," but I bet I still don't want to read the books these people are proposing. That's because mature moral understanding on the part of the author is not sufficient to make a good book. Writing an exceptionally good story that conveys "the meaning" is just as hard as writing any other sort of exceptionally good story. If these people think their insights are so original that the world needs them personally to convey said insights in the form of juvenile literature -- there's a good change that they think the insights alone are enough to make their work worth reading.

lormarie.com said...

Well, I guess the meaning of life books can get a bit boring. But then I'd have to wonder. How is it that the likes of Joel Osteen manages to sell millions of copies?

X said...

Can I presume to offer my own insight? I know it may seem arrogant for me to appoint myself as a one-man decision council, but I can summarize the meaing of life in one sentence, and I think it's original. I haven't heard anybody else say it, and all my reasoning points in this direction.

Evolution is the meaning of life.

Now before you spit all over the screen, let me try to explain. All of us who feel that our lives are meaningful believe we're making the world a better place. Evolution can be summarized as the process of improvement. We more or less define goodness as the greatest freedom for the most people. We liberate ourselves with simple truth and understanding. Education is the path to enlightenment, but I don't mean school. I'm digressing here, so let me put a cap on myself. If you want to tell a story about the meaning of life, your characters need to change for the better, unless it's a tragedy, then you're demonstrating the meaning of life by anti-thesis.

The Rejecter said...

I'm not letting this turn into a G-d vs. atheism debate of any implied sort. I was just commenting on the types of query letters I get.

Kim Stagliano said...

What? No "Just think happy thoughts?" You must have missed a few envelopes under the desk.

I really like Kathy Griffin as a comedian And that speech? Crazy funny in a straight to hell kind of way. She's an original even if most of her body and face is now plastic.

Happy New Year!

KS

BuffySquirrel said...

Yeah, I don't think any of us are entitled to tell others they haven't suffered enough yet....

Still, the Victorians did think there was an aesthetic in the deaths of children *pukes*.

Anonymous said...

Re:

--I'm not letting this turn into a G-d vs. atheism debate of any implied sort. I was just commenting on the types of query letters I get.--

Sure. Of course. Right. That's why you wrote that precious last sentence of your post in the first place.

PUH-LEEZE.

Posting a falsely ingenuous (and blatantly ignorant) slam on religion, then playing dumb and/or innocent about what furor such arrogance is likely to cause, is more than dishonest...it's insulting to your readers' intelligence.

Of course you intended it, exactly as you wrote it. Come clean and admit it. You can't lose: the people who agree with you--and who have no understanding of faith of any kind--will stick around. The people who have faith, and whose faith you have insulted, will go elsewhere...

...which no doubt is what you wanted in the first place.

So pat yourself on the back. You reduced your query pile and your unwanted readership, all in one fell swoop. But don't pretend you didn't intend to do both from the beginning!

The Rejecter said...

Anon 8:64,

Kay.

The point of the post, which apparently everyone got but you, was that a lot of people have the normal midlife/medical crisis thing and search for meaning in their lives, and sometimes they think they have not only found meaning, but legitimately think it is something new and the message should be spread everywhere for everyone, when in fact they could hear it at any church, synagogue, mosque, or apartment that's used for covenant meetings when it's cold outside (Wiccans - like you've never been to a meeting in an apartment).

Then they write a book about it. And it's not a good book.

The example that prompted me to write this particular post was a guy who decided his life was bullshit, and sat on a beach chair for 40 days (I noted the biblical implications of the number) until he realized that he needed to be nicer to people and appreciate the things he had. I'm sure he must have gotten that message somewhere else in his life, but just not listened to it until he had experienced a crippling amount of sun exposure.

The Rejecter said...

PS. Sorry, that should be coven. It's been awhile seen I was invited to one.

HyperActive Anonymous said...

ok despite everyone's else's objections, that made me LOL. I mean seriously, people, we're not stupid. I think we can figure out the "meaning" for ourselves :D

ORION said...

The meaning of life is to feed my cats...At least that's what Touloose says...

Anonymous said...

anon 8:46

how funny; I took the last line as pro-religion.