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You have no doubt noticed that spiritual and religious writing is almost without exception Highly Serious. The standard-brand monotheistic holy books, mainstream metaphysics, Eastern wisdom, channeled "wisdom," books on philosophy and meditation—hardly a smile in any of it, never a giggle. "This is Deep Thought," the earnest and learned ones seem to be telling us. "Our Religion Is Nothing To Laugh At."
Why not? What on earth (or in the various heavens and hells) is so holy that we can't make fun of it?
That's why I started Finding new goddesses. What are Found goddesses? They're made-up deities, goddesses who cope with issues not even dreamed of in ancient Greece or India or the northern lands. Please note that I did not invent Found goddesses. Morgan Grey and Julia Penelope coined the idea in 1988 for their wonderful little book, Found Goddesses. Their first Found goddess was Asphalta: "Hail, Asphalta, full of grace:/ Help me find a parking space."
The Found goddesses are the new ones, the ones we make up to help us deal with modern life. The ancient and classical goddesses can help us with love and abundance and revenge, but whom do you ask for a good haircut or a good used car? To find a decent apartment to rent? What goddess is responsible for air conditioning? Which goddess do you go shopping with? The first goddess I found was Caloria, the triple goddess of potluck. I also Found three Crone goddesses (Auntie Gravity, Hormonia, and Naustalgica) and twenty-odd computer divinities (goddesses, their consorts, a brother, and a power animal named Mouse).
My intention in writing Finding New Goddesses was to bring playfulness to our spiritual lives. The book is full of parody, puns, awful verse, and some really strange literary and cinematic allusions. Don't take it too seriously. Just have a laugh or two. Because this month's blog is about the GLAWS editing panel, I decided to post some of the chattier goddesses here. Mimsy Borogove is probably the most prolix. We've all heard inane celebrity interviews and read novels that begin with an author finding a mysterious manuscript hidden in a box. I wrote the first version of Panglossolalia in the 1980s for a multi-level marketing company for which I was writing marketing "literature." They had a vitamin line called "Dr.'s Signature." For some reason, they were not amused by my parody. More recently, I turned this Found Goddess into a political parody that I posted on Feminism and Religion during the Republican primaries. We're all reading magazines and online zines, but now I'm wondering if I should add blogs to Opera or Find a new bloggish goddess. Finally, Agenda presides over all those meetings we go to in person. Maybe she should learn to use Skype??
Mimsy Borogove: The Muse of Attitude
Editor’s note: The following interview was found in a trunk in the attic of an obscure mathematician. The trunk, which was left on the doorstep of the present Editor by a Mysterious Stranger, contains a number of poems written in an outlandish language which the present Editor is determined to translate and publish in multiple volumes (just like some of our favorite mystery writers).
FNG. Ms. Borogove, you say you’re a Muse. Why aren’t you a Goddess like the rest of the Ladies in this book?
Mimsy Borogove. That is Miss Borogove to you. I don’t hold with those modern honorifics.
FNG. So sorry.
Mimsy Borogove. Quite right. I am a Goddess. I am a specialized Goddess. I am made of finer stuff than your every-day deities and I am Privy to the Secrets of the Universe. I know, for example, how slithy the toves actually were, and I saw what the momeraths were doing. No, no, no, don’t ask. Outgrabing does not make a pretty picture. And when a night becomes brillig, well, let’s just say that it’s best to remain indoors with the curtains firmly shut. Many Goddesses are prosaic, donchew know, whilst I am prosodic. I know The Rules.
FNG. What are you the Muse of?
Mimsy Borogove. I rule All The Finer Things In Modern Life. Disco. Limericks. Thick romance novels and made-for-TV movies that run on and on and on. Laugh-In and daytime drama. Astrology. Christian pop rock. Why, you must know that I inspire the lot of them! And, let me modestly admit (though I never like to brag), it is I that was invoked of old by the likes of Virgil and John Milton. Well, let me think a moment. Ah, yes. Here it is.
Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree,
sing o heavenly muse of arms and the man.
Let us sing a somewhat loftier strain and regain the blissful seat,
of goodness so wondrous, sing o Queen of Heaven, o heavenly muse….
I rather like that “heavenly muse” part, don’t you?
FNG. Er…yes. You have an impressive track record. What can you tell us of your history? [Note: Mimsy has confused and conflated Paradise Lost, the Aeneid, and Virgil’s Eclogues. These three works contain invocations to the Muse, to be sure, but we can be certain that Mimsy was not the Muse who inspired Milton and Virgil!]
Mimsy Borogove. Well, I no longer remember my mother’s name, though She was terribly big and important. I strongly suspect that my father was William F’Buckley. Very attitudinal gentleman, donchew know, and his vocabulary, well, certainly A Notch Above. One has heard, of course, of My nine sisters. They got the famous assignments—tragedy, comedy, the poetries, astronomy, dance. Whatever. I would have done, but Mum was saving me for The Better Things. And here I am now, donchew know, A Modern Muse For The Modern World! Isn’t it Unfortunate that one no longer hears from one’s trashy sisters. Oh, they have those tacky marble statues, and Clio got that award named after her (advertising, what kind of honor is that, I ask you), but I’ve got the Genuine Pizzazz.
FNG. Er, yes. I’ve heard that the word “museum” comes from “muse.” Can you comment on that?
Mimsy Borogove. I can tell you that musea—that’s the proper plural of museum, you realize—that musea preserve the culture of the age. Of all ages. And what is the most enculturated part of a museum? It’s the gift shop. We Muses always keep Our Priorities (and Our Gifts) Quite Firmly In Hand.
FNG. What projects are you currently working on?
Mimsy Borogove. Oh, I’ve quite moved away from the visual arts. These days, I’m looking over e-publishing. Quite the coming thing, what? One seems to have a great deal of time on one’s hands, and e-publishing gives one an entire new generation to hover over. F’Buckley alone knows whom one might inspire!
FNG. Mimsy Borogove, star of stage, screen, and several rather fascinating inner worlds, thank you for your time.
Mimsy Borogove. Delighted, I’m sure.
Panglossolalia: Goddess of the Infomercial
Good evening, worshipers and friends, and welcome to My garden. I’m so glad you could visit Me here. Isn’t it beautiful? I take such great care to cultivate My garden right here in the best of all possible worlds. Friends, Our movie, Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman, will begin in a minute. But first, this.
My dear friends, tonight I would like to talk to you about a product of vital importance to you all. And here it is. Dr. Lucre’s Whoopee Pack, the all-natural supplement for men and women approaching the Age of Anxiety. Friends, you know you live in the fast lane. You know you have to be supercharged to keep up. You can’t let life pass you by. Well, My friends, it’s not too late to grab your share.
Dr. Lucre, aloe farmer, free-fall enthusiast, and the world’s greatest authority, wants to share his secrets for a more highly satisfying life than you’ve ever known before. Let Me tell you a secret. There’s no need for those expensive blue pills when you’ve got Dr. Lucre’s Whoopee Pack. Try these supplements daily and see if you don’t get a charge. See if you don’t Feel Up and In Charge.
First—Highly Potent Multi-Mega-Vita-Vege-Chela-Enzy-Chlora-Mino-Min. No “mini” here, friends. No, indeed. This is a Maxi-Mega-Multi-Vita-Mineral to start your day—and your heart and your lungs, kidneys, and digestive system. And it keeps them going all day long! It contains every beneficial ingredient ever discovered, invented, synthesized, or genetically engineered by man. Multi-Mega-Vita-Vege-Chela-Enzy-Chlora-Mino-Min is safe and non-toxic. And it has no boring side effects!
Second—Stimulator, formulated especially for you from the smoothest old devil-may-care goat glands not already in use. Stimulator gets you up every day. Add Stimulator to your morning beverage, My friends, and you’ll glow all day. It’s guaranteed to make your life more interesting…and your social life much more adventuresome.
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Yes, it’s Dr. Lucre’s Whoopee Pack—formulated from the world’s purest ingredients for the world’s purest person. You. Friends, Dr. Lucre’s Whoopee Pack is available only from the Forced Life Genetic Engineering and Erector Set Company, headquartered in Burbank, California. To sample Dr. Lucre’s Whoopee Pack and our other rare and wonderful products, all you have to do is go to your phone right now. Just dial 1-800-WHOOPEE. Yes, that’s right. Simply dial 1-800-WHOOPEE. Friends, when you use Dr. Lucre’s Whoopee Pack, you, too, will find yourself in the best of all possible worlds. Nothing will ever be the same again.
My friends, I’m so glad We could get together for this little visit. And now, let’s sit back and enjoy Our movie.
Opera: Goddess of Magazines and Newsletters
There may be only one Opus (and long may he live on that far, far side of normalcy), but Opera is multiplicitous, multibiquitous, and multilingual. Provoker of writers and artists of rankest talent, She stands astride the mound of niche publishing, boundless reams of paper streaming at Her feet, mighty pen thrust aloft in one inky hand, bound volumes clutched to her capacious breast, and proudly wearing the triple crown of subscription label, microfiche, and URL. Friend to all who can read (plus the masses who just look at pictures), Opera is much beloved by the ladies who host TV talk shows, by hobbyists of every interest and persuasion, and by every enthusiast who thinks it is his obligation to share his brain with the world. Opera’s highest priestesses are Diana Vreeland and Helen Gurley Brown, Her highest Priests, Stan Lee and Henry Luce, Her artist, Norman Rockwell, Her court jester, Alfred E. Newman.
Yes, Opera is the true populist goddess, as old as the 18th century Spectator, as intrusive as National Geographic, as fresh as tomorrow’s teen ’zine. And how did She get where She is today? ’Tis an oft-told tale. . . .
“Friend, art ye cuneiform bricks dry yet?” “They are, Hammurabi, and thou mayst post thy wisdom upon ye ziggurat here for all to read.”
“Friend, what hast thee here?” “Why, ’tis called a press of printing.” “Zounds! Let us now cast abroad every speche that ys spoken, ek out of olde bokes, and in good feyth cometh al this newe science that men lerne.”
“Friend, what goodly machinery hast thee here?” “Why, i’faith, ’tis a printing press.” “Then let us print an magazine!” “Aye, and unto the last syllable of recorded time, let us print a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” “Aye, ’tis sure to sell.”
“Say, friend, what’ve we got here?” “Why, it’s the new, improved offset press!” “Well, ya know what they say, The movin’ finger writes, and havin’ writ moves on, nor all yur piety nor wit c’n lure it back t’ cancel half a line.” “Not anymore, friend! Just flip thishere switch an’ she’ll print up as many copies as anyone c’n poss’bly want!”
“You guys got a walkup Xerox?” “Sure do, son.” “Wow! I can, I can print a million of these. Just let ’em get out and I’ll be rich and famous!” “Now, hold on, son. Hold on. First, you gotta fold every one of these, just so. Then you stick on your address labels, this side up, and make sure they’re in the right place. Then you have to sort ’em all by ZIP code and tie each bundle together with these big rubber bands. Then you take ’em to the bulk mail window. And you’ve got your bulk mail permit, right?”
“OK, womyn, we’re ready to launch. We’ve got our URL, we’ve got our site, we’ve got our e-mailing list, we’ve got all our contributors lined up. This software is so advanced, it’s gonna be a snap to put this ’zine out. All we have to do is Copy and Paste and hit Send. It’ll be totally bitchin’ easy, just you wait and see.”
All hail to Opera. Not only does She know the questions, but She also has all the answers.
Agenda: Goddess of Meetings
I Found Agenda when the First Officer of the Covenant of the Goddess chapter I belonged to said to me, “You better come to this meeting.” That sounded, as they say, like an invitation I couldn’t refuse. So I went to another meeting.
Presiding at every possible meeting and wearing Her red suit and power heels, Agenda stands eternally at ease behind Her Golden Lectern. Her high priestess is Miss Manners, Her high priest is Dilbert. Working the room are Her johns—the vestryman John T. (Dress for Success) Malloy and John (Megatrends) Naisbitt. Among Her worshippers we will always find, on one side, Mary Kay and her beautiful friends and, on the other side, Bill and his thirsty friends.
Attend! She is calling us to order. “Greetings,” She says. “My name is Agenda and I’m a Goddess.” “Hi, Agenda,” Her worshippers reply. And another meeting is officially under way.
We go to so many meetings. Board meetings that last for all eternity, council meetings that will put the most unregenerate insomniac to sleep, committee meetings more partisan than any civil war. Meetings of service clubs and unions and hobbyists and professional organizations. Networking meetings and PTA meetings. Assemblies, convocations, conventions, expos, reunions, gatherings, and get-togethers. In any given meeting, it happens that some attendees have something they feel compelled to express and that most of the other attendees would rather be somewhere else. Here’s a heartfelt invocation for those of us who have something better to do than listen to idiots:
Hail, Agenda, social rover,
Help us get this meeting over.
[Note: I wrote this in 2002, when I was still going to a lot of meetings. I no longer belong to COG, which is an excellent organization, and have belonged to numerous networking organizations. My friend Angelo, with whom I frequently go to the theater, keeps saying I need a twelve-step program for theater tickets.]
Can you tell Finding New Goddesses is one of my favorite books? I keep having fun with the blessed Verbena and Finding new girls. (I also Found one god.) BUY THIS BOOK. I have lots of copies, so if you want to read about Our Lady of Guilt (all mothers) and her daughter Libida Loca or Mimsy Borogove, the modern muse and want a signed copy of the book, send me an email