No Need To Look It Up
There simply must be an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer re-enacts Keir Dullea in "2001: A Space Odyssey." He lies on his back, on a bed of French Provincial, in a bright, cold light. He struggles to lift his forearm so as to point his pudgy forefinger at the black monolith that stands beyond his feet. He struggles to mutter a final "D'oh!", now the trigger-word for his reincarnation.
To be an old man is to be unable to shed the shadow of the black monolith. The monolith holds the Secret. It holds it to itself; its very shape signals impregnable opacity.
Sarcasm was the hallmark of the great, the unclassifiable, the one-and-only Mose Allison, percussive pianist and songwriter, who passed about six years ago now. But from time to time, especially towards the end, he abandoned the signature sarcasm for something deeper and more universal:
No one can say he's made the most of life.
No man can tell what comes with dying.
The Fires of Spring remain the toast of life.
Each man in time a crucifying...
Each man his time for crucifying.
The doctors and even the hospice workers no doubt soon will be authorized to prescribe hallucinogens, to ease the terror of transition. And so Homer and Mose, locked in a jiu-jitsu embrace, will flit across my screen, fighting for what the fancy people would call "ontological supremacy."