Saturday, January 12, 2013

Iblis redux

Working with Iblis the Devil Child is a bit like working with Owen Meany, the focus of John Irving's novel A Prayer for Owen Meany. Like Owen, Iblis is loud, and he says whatever's on his mind-- a mind that contains no brakes to hold him back from saying some of the stupidest shit I've ever heard. In that sense, Iblis is totally unlike Owen Meany: the latter was, at the very least, smart and insightful.

"WHAT'S A MYTH? I FORGOT," Iblis said the other day while at my desk.

"It's usually a story involving gods and heroes, like Greek myths," I said.

"IS POKEMON A MYTH?" Iblis blared. My colleague across the aisle, and his three students, all began to snicker uncontrollably.

I sighed. "Does Pokémon offer moral lessons? A lot of myths teach lessons."


"It depends on the tradition," I replied. "The Greeks had a lot of gods; so do the Hindus." My little Indian student, Parvati (not her real name), nodded in confirmation. She's a Hindu.

"BUT THERE'S ONLY ONE GOD," Iblis declared, having forgotten that he had just asked how many gods there were not five seconds previously. His father is a Muslim. Counting to one is easy for monotheists.

"There are many gods," Parvati whispered challengingly, glaring at Iblis.

I made a boxing referee's separating gesture and closed the discussion, as much as I'd have liked to continue it: religion is one of my most beloved topics to chew over, but I knew that these two interlocutors were too immature to have a proper, civil exchange.