Above It All

Pope Sixtus is worried about other characters from Berthcut & Sons invading this space that was once exclusively his Papal State. He was not overjoyed over, but accepted, the appearance of the Sardine. He even likes him now. But the entrance of Dexter into their dialogue was too much for him. What’s to stop the characters from the books that Castle reads from showing up?

Sardine: We’re helpless to stop them.

Sixtus: In the 1400s, not anyone could join the conversation of intelligent men. The ignorant people were generally not unaware of their own ignorance and stayed clear of theology and philosophy. In today’s barbaric circumstances, people butt in whenever they feel like it. They don’t even want to add anything, just hearing the sound of their own voices justifies them. Like idiots in crowds who wave at the television cameras.

Sardine: You had the power of life and death back them. People were scared to violate social customs.

Sixtus: Maybe we could dwell on topics that either wouldn’t interest the characters, like Dexter or Gerard. Even better, we could talk about things above them.

Sardine: What do you mean “above”? How many angels you can get on the head of a pin?

Sixtus: Not that crap. I mean esoteric stuff. Some of Christ’s most difficult parables.

Sardine: Or Zen koans?

Sixtus: What the hell are they?

Sardine: Stories or anecdotes or images that the Zen Buddhists use for meditation exercises. Haven’t you heard the directive: “Listen to the sound of one hand clapping”?

Sixtus (silent for a moment): I don’t get it.

Sardine: Here’s a better example. It’s called “Cup of Tea”:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Sixtus: I can get my miter around that.

Sardine: Or we could go the way of the pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus: “The way up and the way down are the same.”

Sixtus: He’s a son-of-a-bitch. His belief in life being ever-present change is too much. If we believed him, the world would be nothing but chaos.

Sardine: He is very challenging. Personally, I’m a Lao Tzu guy.

Instant message from the Sardine’s Pun Pal: “So you’re throwing in the Tao.”

Sixtus: I like him, especially: “Nature does not hurry, but everything is accomplished.”

Sardine: Words to live by – only I don’t think you could.

Sixtus: I appreciate his message.

Sardine: But don’t or couldn’t practice it.

Sixtus: I’m a man of the Renaissance. I believe nature can be improved.

Sardine: Lao Tzu isn’t the man for the wielders of power. I thought you’d be a Confucius man.

Sixtus: We could repel others by talking St. Augustine’s moral imperatives.

Sardine: That might seal us off completely from the world as it now is.

Sixtus: True.

Sardine: Actually, I have a plan for the Sardine column that will reduce intrusions from the Logged-in Public, Joe T., Frank, and my other acquaintances.

Sixtus: You’re going to move permanently here?

Sardine: Don’t worry your Pontiff off. Instead of dialogues with the people at hand, I intend to converse with my favorite authors. It might include Heraclitus and Lao Tzu, but also writers like Kafka, Nietzsche, e e cummings, and many others.

Sixtus: They would want to do this?

Sardine: Their parts of the dialogue would be quotes from their works.

Sixtus: Won’t Frank Weathers kill himself? He needs to be in your column.

Sardine: I can’t eliminate him or the others completely. I don’t think the author of the column would let me go that far.

Sixtus: Good luck on that.

Sardine: Maybe you could have your Renaissance friends and enemies join you.

Sixtus: Not those bastards the Medici or Borgias.

Sardine: It might be interesting.

Sixtus: I’ll see what my nephew, Pope Julius II, thinks about it. Before any Borgias stuck their mugs in this blog, regardless, I’d have them go through metal detector and then be stripped searched.