Tuesday, July 04, 2006
The Twilight Zone
"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call 'The Twilight Zone'."
It's Independence Day today, and I was going to drop a note about America and independence, blah, blah, blah. I'll let others do that. No, let's discuss something far more interesting than the Independence Day of the world's only superpower.
There's a Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci Fi Channel. It started last night, and I have to tell you, I'm a junkie. The Twilight Zone is one of the best American vehicles ever made. It was on CBS from 1959 to 1964, and it truly has stood the test of time. One of these days I need to buy all the DVDs. But it's almost more fun to see the episodes when they come on serendipitously, on Memorial Day, New Year's Day, or the Fourth of July. Not all of them are good of course, but there are several classics that I could watch a thousand times. "Eye of the Beholder," "Time Enough at Last,""A Nice Place to Visit," "The Dummy," "Mr. Bevis," "Where is Everybody," "To Serve Man," and of course, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" with Bill Shatner.
Speaking of Bill Shatner, listen to some of the actors who appeared on The Twilight Zone during its heyday: Robert Redford, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, Jams Coburn, Robert Duvall, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Bill Bixby, Buster Keaton, Mickey Rooney, John Carradine, Peter Falk, Jack Klugman, Burgess Meredith, Roddy McDowell, Telly Savalas, Carol Burnett, Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, and Art Carney. Pretty cool - it's fun to see their young faces in black and white in these old episodes.
The beauty of The Twilight Zone is its ability to turn reality on its head and make you see things in a completely different, and sometimes very creepy, light. In this episode I just watched, "A Nice Place to Visit," a criminal is shot and killed trying to escape from the police with his stolen loot. A "guardian angel" appears to him in a white suit and offers him anything he wants. He is mistrusting at first, he even tries to shoot his guardian angel with the gun that he somehow manages to take with him after death. Eventually he takes the guardian angel up on his offer: he gets a huge house with nice furniture, new duds, all the money he wants, babes, all the food he wants, anything. He's a gambler, so at the casino, he starts playing cards, and he wins every time. He charms the panties off of all the beautiful women he wants. The guy can't lose.
He knows he led a terrible life and wonders what he did to deserve this, to get into Heaven. He figures that the bad life he led, one of crime, theft, and hurting people must have been outweighed by some kind, good act of his during his life. He wants to find out what it was, so he and the guardian angel go to the Hall of Records to find out what he did to make it into Heaven. They read his record and it's full of bad acts, criminal acts, which he began committing as a very young child. He finally figures that if no one is asking any questions, neither should he.
Eventually, our criminal friend starts to become dissatisfied with his situation. Unfulfilled. He craves excitement. He becomes completely and utterly bored with his success. With winning at everything. It's no fun to win when there is no risk of losing, he says. It's no fun to have all the money you want, when it just comes to you for free and you don't have to work for it, or steal it yourself. He is being given everything on a silver platter, and he can't stand it. Our thief gets antsy. He calls his guardian angel on the phone that has been supplied for him and tells the angel that he can't stand it anymore. He doesn't think he fits in where he is, and if he has to stay there another day, he's going to go crazy.
He tells the guardian angel, "I don't like this place. I don't fit in here -- in Heaven. Someone must have screwed up and made a mistake. I want you to take me to that other place."
And the guardian angel, in an angry voice says, "Heaven??! What made you think that you were in Heaven? You ARE in that other place!"
And the angel starts laughing. Hard.
I love it.
And it gets me thinking. Everyone talks about Heaven, Allah, God, hell, Satan, punishment, glory, resurrection, being saved, being born again, becoming a martyr, waiting for the Messiah. . . . People kill and get killed over this shit every single day. Wars are fought over it. People are dying to become martyrs so that they can get into Heaven and finally get a taste of that good old something something with their 70 virgins. They want to take as many innocent people with them as possible to achieve God's greatest glory. Christians are no exception. They fought the Crusades to convert Muslims to their own way of religious thinking, taking thousands of people to their graves in the process. Even today, they have missions in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to convert people to Christianity. A religious Battle Royale has been going in the world on since the Middle Ages.
And what's the pay-off? To get into Heaven of course. And avoid The Other Place - Hell. No one wants to go to Hell. It's supposed to be very.... hellish. Lots of fire, brimstone, death, burning of flesh, torture, demons, just not the kind of place you really want to spend the afterlife. So the world is full of holier-than-thou "enlightened" people trying to spread their own self-serving brand of faith to convince you that you need to throw away some of your money, or perhaps your own physical body, because that is the only way that you are going get your metaphysical ass through the pearly gates of Heaven.
(Cue heavenly music and Allelujahs here)
But what if? What if there is no Hell to go to? What if....
WE ARE ALREADY IN THAT OTHER PLACE!
What if this IS Hell? What if the daily poverty, disease, killing, and suffering we see every single day is precisely the very Hell that we are trying to avoid? What if there is some law of the universe that requires us to be reincarnated and keep being born into this sorry, miserable place, until we learn what we have to learn, and progress past the point where we are looking to smack the guy next to us in the face for looking at us funny. Or for being better looking than us. Or having more money. Or a prettier wife.
What if we are stuck here, life after sorry life, until every single person's mentality changes and we all start thinking in a completely different way about existence and reality. That in the grand scheme of life, we are not the most important. The collective is. No one is better than anyone else. No one is more deserving than anyone else. We are all the same.
The next time you cut someone off in traffic or flip off somebody for taking the last cookie, think how far the human race is from that kind of thought process. And think that maybe, just maybe, you ALREADY are in that Other Place, and you are destined to keep returning to it, over and over, until you learn, grow, and evolve into what you are supposed to be. Something better and more significant than the petty, selfish plasma bag that you are now. Think about it.
On this, Independence Day 2006, T. has made an entry on his blog. An entry from another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. An entry that is just a short visit, a quick detour, a pit stop in.... The Twilight Zone.