Materialists know |  Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume


Material things anchor one in life much more firmly than purists would like to believe.
We seem to face an enemy who, no matter how many times we win, will best us in the end. He has so many allies: time, disease, boredom, stupidity, religious quackery, and bad habits. Maybe, as Dr. Dannyboy has postulated, all these things, including disease and our relationship with time, are merely bad habits. If so, an ultimate victory is possible. For individuals, if not for the mass. And maybe evolution—playful, adventurous, unpredictable, infuriatingly slow (by our standards of time) evolution—will rescue us eventually, according to a master plan.

Meanwhile, we are beleaguered. We hold the pass. The fragile hold the pass precariously, hiding behind boulders of ego and dogma. The heroic hold the pass a bit more tenaciously, gracefully acknowledging their follies and absurdities, but insisting, nevertheless, on heroism. Instead of shrinking, the hero moves ever toward life. Life is largely material, and there is no small heroism in the full and open enjoyment of material things. The accumulation of material things is shallow and vain, but to have a genuine relationship with such things is to have a relationship with life and, by extension, a relationship with the divine.

To physically overcome death—is that not the goal?—we must think unthinkable thoughts and ask unanswerable questions. Yet we must not lose ourselves in abstract vapors of philosophy. Death has his concrete allies, we must enlist ours. Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.

The solution to the ultimate problem may prove to be elemental and quite practical. Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have known all along that it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek.

~ Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume