Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Hungry Ghost

Watching Louis C.K. perform is like watching an old lady fall and break her hip; you will laugh no matter how inappropriate or sad it might be.  The degree of pessimistic self-loathing in his work is nothing short of painfully hilarious.  When I saw Louis C.K. interviewed on television, I cried.  But the more I thought about his bit, I got the joke on a different level.

“When I read things like ‘the foundations of capitalism are shattering’ I'm like, maybe we need that. Maybe we need some time where we're walking around with a donkey with pots clanking on the sides, ya know…because everything is amazing right now and nobody's happy.”

In Eastern beliefs, the “hungry ghost” represents this idea.  Sometimes called Gaki or Preta, the pitiful creatures have enormous stomachs, tiny necks, and suffer from intense cravings that cannot be fulfilled.  Their torture stems not from what they lack, but from the pain that comes from clinging to material objects that do not fulfill desire.  Pretas wander, stuffing their faces with tasty treats like piles of human feces.  Many can’t swallow or they find the act of eating painful.  The ghosts survive on the fear of the living.  Think Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

The new car, Harley, job, cell phone, Gibson SG, flat screen, pill, house, spouse.  They are all hungry ghosts.  They never completely satisfy, only increase the craving for the next new car, Harley, job, cell phone, Gibson SG, flat screen, pill, house, spouse.

Living with Preta isn’t easy.  Take some time away from yours to indulge mine.  If this novel doesn’t raise the hair on the back of your neck, maybe you ARE Preta.  Here’s the link.  Click it.  Leave the donkey with clanking pots for another time.