It was in the Fall of '08 that Ired Dustafo, the great and wise seer, was discovered in a floe of ice in the Himalayas by a coach on vacation, and after sufficient time by the fire, was returned to the land of the living wearing his clothes. Long had been Ired's years in a state of suspended animation, but soon his meditations and contemplations in the remote spaces of the wilderness resumed. At long last, when his conversations with the spirits of nature and God craved the confirmation of human listeners, he descended from the heights to a village below, and there rented a room for barter of his knowledge and his sweat.
Then the teacher became a pupil of the times which had passed, and indeed he learned what had transpired during his absence through the recollections of those he met. Moreover, Ired discovered the present state of man through the television in his lodging, and so alarmed was he by all he saw and heard that he set sail at once aboard a freighter bound for California, and once arrived there was received as a visiting dignitary at UCLA, where he spoke and wrote, and was soon considered by the students to be “the coolest dude on campus.”
Yet despite his popularity among the co-eds, the professors quickly came to dismiss his ruminations on the follies of man, particularly tenure, the tax code, and March Madness. Still, the Master persisted, such was his resolve, and prior to being ejected from campus by campus police, he, Ired the wise, gave one final audience in front of the campus library. Here, as he bid adieu to the exhilarating impertinence of youth, agents closed in...
April Fools Day began uneventfully enough. They gathered around him in front of the library, and he bade them to sit. And they sat on the lawn and waited for him to ascend the cubist statue of Plato. And the Master stood on Plato’s square head and said: “Who would be first?”
And a philosophy major asked, “How did you become so wise?”
And the Master said, “Experience, my son. Next question.”
And a new student asked, “Are you against belonging to a house like TTT, oh great one?”
And the Master said, “Do you mean Theta Theta Theta or Testosterone, Testosterone, Testosterone? Your traditions are good, but see that they be not mocked. I know not of the house you speak, but no matter what Greek letters emblazon the portals of your fraternity row, no house should, ere the rising sun, become a school for Greek love and toga parties. Or if they are, then should the whereabouts of those prior brothers or sisters be tracked to see which old members still flip patties and attend AA meetings. And do you know what AA means?”
Then a junior without a major said: “What about partying, pop?”
And the Master said: “I have seen you prize action, and to disdain those who would spend their time at study. But I say to you, where is this action? You talk of tweets and posts, of music, and cavorting in pleasure and drunkenness. Is this what you mean? But is not the sparrow who builds a nest in a tree more active? Or the nerd at study? I think you mean a dulling of spirit. I think you mean to put out of thought all worries and fears, and your own insecurities. And I say to you, rather embrace them. Let them be your soul’s fuel and your body’s challenge. You are young, yes, but do not be foolish. Invite those nerds to your party, and gather around them to learn from them. Heed their words, and laugh not. For thoughts are the beginnings of actions. And ideas that change the world can get you hired by Google.”
And a football jock said: “What about sports?”
And the Master said: “He who would bat, roll, hit, kick, pitch, bounce, or otherwise propel balls should know that there is more to life. The exercise of the body is good, but when the mind has atrophied it is an ugly thing to behold. Then can one’s soul no longer commune with nature. Then will the victim end up in old age with only a television set, a bag of Fritos, and no passport to the great Mystery beyond. You talk about your favorite players, read about them, and argue over who is being traded for who and for how much. You think you know what the score is, whatever the sport. But do you? Do you not see that your inane obsession makes sport of other areas of your lives? Take sex. Is this not a sport to you? It is certainly popular with you. The issues that sell out first among the sporting magazines, I'm told, are the swimsuit issues. You speak of scoring, with the image of playing the field, or of moving in for the kill and quickly moving on. Your illegitimate birth and abortion statistics are your scores here. Politics is another spectator sport. No matter what the office, do you not get elected by playing the game? And if you tell the Truth are you not considered an underdog? Yet if you are a convincing liar you are more than likely the odds-on favorite. For politics is a game on the Hill, with drinks on the House…in brief, it is a shell game played by blind people betting with your money.”
Then a music major asked, “What do you think about today’s lyrics?”
And the Master replied, “It is a mystery. Certain song phrases seem to have meaning, but when they are linked into stanzas they lose all relation to sanity and reason. The philosophy expressed appears at first to be one of prizing anarchy and dissolution, but upon repetition it becomes clearer and clearer that the true motivation is a hedonistic nihilism propelled by lazy cliches, and a vapidity which cannot break even the surface tension of wisdom...much like pond scum. Yet if the words are mumbled, slurred, or otherwise covered sufficiently, I like it.”
And a senior asked, “Is love for real?”
And the Master responded, “The major problem with love is that because of your high divorce rates, you have come to realize that you can probably fall in love with just about anything and anybody. So now it has become harder to fall in love, even over a candlelight dinner. Unless, of course, it's too dark to see what's going on.”
And an English Lit major asked: “What do I do about the neighbors above me? They have parties even on weeknights, and play their Halestorm CDs until three in the morning. I can’t sleep or study. My grades are even suffering. Don’t tell me to call the police, either, ‘cause the girl next to me does that and they always manage to cut their stereo off just in time.”
And the Master smiled and said, “Would that you had a stereo of your own, with Boze speakers and a two hundred amp powerplant. Then you could play some nice classical music for them in the morning. I think, after sunrise, you would not violate any laws, would you? I would suggest a Beethoven Symphony, followed by Chopin’s Funeral March...and then maybe some polkas, a couple Swedish yodeling medleys, and a rendition of ‘Una Paloma Blanca’ by Slim Whitman. When the police come to your door you can make a contribution to the Policeman’s Benevolent Fund.”
And a freshman asked, “Why is it I can’t concentrate in class?”
And the Master replied, “You are unique because you have developed extremely short attention spans. Only a hummingbird’s is shorter. You will find that this is a direct result of the advent of the 30 second TV commercial. Searching the fossil records, you will also discover that prehistoric man may have taken as long as three months on a single cave drawing. Yet today you pride yourselves on how many subway cars you can vandalize in three minutes. Indeed, without the aid of music videos and special effects you become bored in exactly 64 seconds. I understand that last year it was 67 seconds. So I predict that when the countdown reaches zero someone will launch their missiles the moment their iPod battery dies. Luckily, that only happens about once a year, I'm told, with heavy use.”
Then a psychology student asked: “How will we find jobs?”
And the Master replied, “I do not know. But all work is sacred if you do your best...even flipping hydrogenated fifty cow patties. So do not disparage whatever is given for you to do. And while you continue to seek employment in your realm of excellence, never assume a job is beneath you. For work is not a right but a sacrament. It is not a drudgery but a duty to God and to your fellow man. Do you job, I say, exceeding that which is expected, and your strength will rise to meet your dream. Then your dream, like the eagle, will beat its wings in a freedom song, and will carry you all the way from McDonalds...to Dennys.”
And a PH-D candidate said, “I’m trying to come up with a PH D thesis. Any advice?”
And the Master responded, “How about explaining why some people circle your mall’s parking lot looking for the closest space to park while others are already inside and making their purchases?”
And a future teacher asked: “Will Johnny ever learn to read?”
And the Master said, “For many years it is said that your grade school system has failed in its purpose. In many cases would that Johnny hadn’t gone to school at all. Then he might not have learned how to use a gun there.”
And a communications student asked, "Is there anything good on TV?"
And the Master responded with another question: "What if you gave up your TV...would this not be good? I think it would, for you are asking the wrong question.
"Look in the mirror, I say. Stare at your reflection, and ask the character staring back at you if it is real. Splash cold water into the face in the mirror if you must, to get your answer. For it is time to create your OWN experiences and your OWN ratings, while the Neilsen family squanders their time and neglects their responsibilities in favor of munching cheese doodles and never saying a word to each other except ‘Pass me the remote’."
And a criminal justice student asked: “What about violence on the streets?”
And the Master said, “What of the rules for the street gangs, and the sport they play? Is not everything is a game to them too? My children, think of it like this: if you walk around a corner and you confronted by a punk with a gun, and he asks why he should not kill you, what do you say? Do you say Because I’m a good person? Yet what is good? Do you know?...Or maybe you would say Because it’s wrong. But again, what is that? Who are you to determine what is right or wrong for anyone, especially if your parents never even taught you phonics?...Because God condemns it? What God? Science? Science is just numbers. A billion billion dying suns in an infinite universe of incredible cold and distance. I predict you will all be faced soon by that kid---maybe even the same kid---and he will want to know how to live his life, and you will not be able to give him the answers I did! The gun will be pointing at your belly very soon, but you do not believe me because you are too busy thinking Who are you to judge me? Here is the dilemma, for although saying something is wrong will offend those who are doing that wrong, not to say it is the same thing as saying nothing is right. ...Right?”
And a science major asked: “What do you think about the future?”
And the Master answered, saying: “The future is only a dream which will never exist. Though it terrorize, confound, or distract you, it holds no power other than that which you give it. He who would be consumed by fears of the future is like the traveler who peers through a glass and so stumbles on the rocks at his feet. But I say, be consumed with now, for the present moment is all you will ever have. And if you use your every moment to its fullest, then will your future moments be all the more pleasant...as you remember the good old days.”
And a janitor asked, “How can I get outta here?”
And the Master, taking pity, said, “Projecting yourself from your body is very difficult to achieve, as you may have suspected, especially if your name is Madonna. While many people hate their bodies, they have yet to master this skill. Simply loathing what you look like will not work in most instances. You have to be able to do it with your eyes closed. Once you learn to do this, however, all that remains is really despising where you are.”
And a Humanities student asked, “Master, tell us of life’s meaning.”
And the Master smiled and said, “The actual meaning I cannot tell you in words, else you go mad, shave your head, and attack the Pope.”
And a physics student asked, "Have you ever heard of the Twins Paradox?"
And the Master nodded, saying, "If two sets of identical twins are dating and one of them has amnesia, then not only won’t he know which twin he’s dating...he won’t know which twin he is."
And a librarian on break asked, "When Kim Jong-un launches a missile toward us, will students still get sports scores on the evening news?"
And the Master nodded, saying, "If it happens in March, or on Superbowl Sunday."
And a history major said, “I don’t want to be a teacher, so I’m thinking of dropping out and becoming a stand-up comic. Any advice?”
And the Master laughed and said, “What a job, inspiring belly laughs from mankind’s long record of atrocities and scandals! And yet man’s waring parallels his follies, so your material has been centuries in the making. Just be certain not to roam randomly from subject to subject like most comics are want to do. And when you are finished don’t patronize the audience by telling them how great they have been. This they already know.”