Monday, July 12, 2010

Heaven and Hell

After a month-long unannounced hiatus and severe site-traffic atrophy, the Vagnino Monologues is back!

I have an epic post planned about my week-long trip to the Low Countries (Holland and Belgium), but first, a little theosophical musing. About death and what happens after it. Because while it's fun to blog about pet owls and bikini waxes, sometimes I feel the urge to think about things of substance, things with gravitas.

Before embarking to Europe, I wrote a lengthy paper about Don DeLillo's postmodern masterpiece
White Noise. All of the characters in the novel are obsessed with death -- one character even takes a risky experimental drug that is designed to alleviate the fear of death. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it -- aside from its philosophical headiness, it's very funny and a fast read.

So yeah, death. Truthfully? I think I think about it less than most folks. Of course I wonder what it will be like and am as shocked as anyone when someone unexpectedly dies and is just....not around anymore. I am more afraid of scenarios in which I know that I am going to die right before it happens. Not like with a terminal illness, but like in a plane crash or car accident or with a gun pointed at your head, where you are conscious and alert, but have to try to rationally process/reconcile your impending non-existence. That is terrifying.

Of course, I hope there is an afterlife. I like to think that heaven is a chic cocktail party with an open bar, great live music and neverending passed appetizers.

Or heaven might look like this:

(This was my favorite shoe store in Amsterdam. I almost wept when I walked in.)

Or if heaven isn't a shoe store or a fabulous cocktail party filled with friends and handsome strangers, I think it should be some sort of virtual reality-type situation where you get to relive all your favorite life moments. That would be pretty neat.

I'm a firm believer that hell involves travel gone awry. Some possibilities:

1) Hell is an airport (and not one with good duty-free shops and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant). Your flight never arrives and also you cannot leave. Your bags are lost. There is nothing to read except
Women's Health and Golf Digest. The drinking fountains are all broken and bottled water costs $3.25. You are forced to eat stale slices of sbarro and watch Today Show reruns with the sound turned off.

2) Hell is the Amtrak Waiting Area at Penn Station. The A/C is broken. The smell of urine is omnipresent. Your train is continually delayed. Bathroom is out of order and covered in yellow crime scene tape.

3) Hell is the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Fill in your own horrifying specifics.

Or maybe Sartre had it right, that hell is other people. But not all other people -- just the most annoying, obnoxious contestants/personalities from reality television. How would you like to spend eternity making conversation with the cast of
A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila?

I rest my case. (Also, does Tila Tequila look like a Bratz doll in that photo, or what?)

I guess the ultimate irony would be if heaven and hell are precisely the cliched stereotypes we associate with them -- angels and harps vs. fire and demons. So when you arrive, you're like, "Seriously? For reals? Ugh. I'd rather be in Port Authority with a man who sleeps next to a bag of his own trash. At least that's ORIGINAL."

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