People used to joke, grimly, about an alternate universe in which Al Gore won the US presidency, as some argue he actually did. We project, as cynics, an essentially optimistic stance: that life would have been better. Most religions have some notion of a supplemental, or surrogate world, be it the Resurrection’s earthly heaven, reincarnation’s lenient sequel, or purgatory’s questionable case of mono. Scientists have their own way of poking around this, using quantum physics to describe parallel universes, of anti-matter as our simultaneous shadow. This seems to be the only place where science and religion hold hands, like embarrassed school children; that is, in the fantasy of a “quotidian elsewhere” whose familiarity, promoted into profundity, absolves one from having to live differently.
Our bare-footed Paul wore sandals during practice runs across the street, which finally answers why did the chicken cross the road? To fake it. Bowie looks hunky dory, why so many poses? Before self-immolating to a crisp, or adorning Rage Against the Machine’s blurry ethos, Thích Quảng Đức offered he was “closing [his] eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha,” which is beautiful if you think about it, that the drawn curtain of one’s eyelids could end the bad movie of one’s life. That Kurt Cobain addresses Buddha as “Boddah” in his suicide letter may not be mere misspelling, if you believe that the latter was in fact the former’s imaginary childhood friend. I’d like to think the Nevermind baby stayed submerged in some corporate Atlantis—selling out and growing up, evolving gills for aquatic life, getting his tiny pecker sucked—but in ours, this life, the only version we have, his mother had to quickly bring him back up. Look at that smile.