It’s me–I’m back!
Did you miss me?
Well bugger off and read someone else’s blog then.
No, please stay!
All right, stop that! It’s silly. And a bit suspect, I think.
But really, after three weeks of final exams, stressful travel, exploits in NYC, and melting in the Florida heat, I’ve returned, and I’ve got things to tell you!
On today’s edition: Good Omens. They’re positive portents, they’re pleasant predictions, pleasing prophecies…I’ll stop. Really, I’m talking about the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s a funny little book. It looks like this…
…or like this…
…or, more often, some derivation of this
Anyway, I’m a writing major and a religious studies minor, so this book is more or less my bible. The irony is not lost on me. Given the season finale of Supernatural–shining in all its sacrilegious glory (my kind of glory to the tee), full of ***SPOILERS*** rebelling angels, apocalypses averted (twice), deals with devils, and new gods–I’ve had religion on the mind. Especially Christianity, especially relating to heaven, hell, angels, demons, God, Satan, and especially the apocalypse.
What with the rapture coming and going more or less unnoticed (see, I didn’t want to go to heaven on Saturday–I’d have missed Doctor Who), I’ve been thinking a lot about what a funny thing an apocalypse is. If you ask me, contradictions are more or less inherent in its nature. The foremost of which is best represented by a rather blasphemous opinion I hold: heaven sounds painfully boring. I quite like earth, thank you very much, despite–no, because of all its flaws. What’s the point of life (or afterlife as the case may be) if there are no problems to solve, no conflicts to resolve, no goals to work for or improvements to be made? What fun is any of it if it’s all perfect?
That’s what I think Good Omens is about. It’s about the pros and cons of life on earth, about the balance of power in a world which may be a giant chess board, or a complex Solitaire spread, or a disc riding on the backs of four elephants standing on the back of a turtle. Alright, probably not that last one. Good Omens is about right and wrong as opposed to Right and Wrong. It’s about prejudices realised and destinies averted. It’s about free will and whether free will was ever really all that free to begin with. It’s about mad old women who weren’t mad at all when you got right down to it, and it’s about very astute ducks.
And it’s brilliant.
Now, it doesn’t answer any of the Big Questions, really. We still don’t know the question of life, the universe, and everything, although I think Crowley and Aziraphale would have to agree that the answer is most certainly 42. (What is the atomic number of molybdenum? The critical angle of a rainbow? The wildcard character? I’m not even warm, am I? A Coldplay song? Now that can’t be right.) Good Omens does, however, make me smile. And I assume it’s made many other people smile, given how wildly popular it is. Either that, or I’m just reading it dead wrong.
I’m joking, of course. Good Omens is the sort of book that just can’t be read wrong. It’s also the sort of book that is about anything and everything, and possibly nothing at all, depending on how you look at it. (Although the bit about the ducks, that’s incontrovertible.)
So there it is, a book about the apocalypse that wasn’t. It seems we’ve seen quite a few of those in the last decade or two. And with another one due for next year, I think Good Omens is as relevant as ever. Or more so. It’s possibly the most relevant thing I’ve ever written about. (You see, writing about this novel is as close as I’ll ever come to actually having written it, which makes this entire entry rather a lot of wishful thinking.)
Wishful thinking. Dreaming. Questioning. I like to believe that’s the sort of thing we’re meant to do while we’re waiting for heaven or hell or the dark of a Death Cab for Cutie song or whatever it is that comes next. I like to believe that if there’s something or someone out there, up there, anywhere who expects anything of us, that someone/thing appreciates that we wonder, that we ponder, that we challenge superstition and supposition. Because Adam Young said it best: “I don’t see why it matters what is written. Not when it’s about people. It can always be crossed out.”