The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Candy vs.Family: What do you really NEED?

I saw a movie the other night that really... caught me. Ever see it?

Party Monster, the trueish story of Michael Alig, club kid, party thrower extraordinaire. Maculay Culkin plays him with a Mary Martin Peter Pan voice and dangerously playful temperment.

I saw another movie on friday, that kinda got me similarly/differently. The new Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, that Tim Burton just put out. Tim Burton, it must be noted, was one of the few people I thanked in my bar mitzvah speech, back in the day.

Both movies are about drugs, what we do with them, what we use them for, and what they can't do for us.

Party Monster gave me a heart to imagine what religion could be like if we ever got it together. This kid becomes a party organizer, despite complete organizational incompetance, pathetic irresponsibility and no friends. His "best friend" hates him, and only gets close to him because of constant badgering, and offers of great parties. Through sheer force of will, and an indominable sense of play, he scores a huge club, The Limelight, and becomes the hottest thing in town, coming to national fame just because of his fabulousness.

How do monks and mystics get away with it? How do they get supported? Either because of community guilt, we have to support him, for he is holy, and our souls benefit, or community extacsy, what he does is awesome! surely, I give whatever I am asked so that this good time can endure.

Grace depends on what? Being pretty isn't nessesarily enough, we see how many beautiful people are hated for their beauty, because it somehow doesn't give over the party, just keeps it over here where you can't share in it. If you can be a part, if there's ahope that I can be beautiful with you, then any demands, financial, ideological or moral is just another opportunity to come closer to the Life of Worlds.

A concept in kabbalah/chassidus: The Tzaddik Chai Olamim. Identified with the pillar that holds up the world in the talmud, responsible for all satisfaction and nourishment-- maybe not responsible for, didn't nessesarily have to work for, but it's all recieved though. The Yesod of Yesod is identified with, not just the phallus, but the sensitive part within it, through which all orgasm is felt.

There's a party in the world, always. My favorite Zev Illowitz torah, one of them, why does G-d keep lowering the count of how many people are nessesary to make Sodom and Amorrah worth saving? Why stop at ten? Because ten is a party, a good party, and without a good party, there's nothing making a city worth keeping. It's been agreed, that before New York can be destroyed, it'll have to become lame first, as all the imaginative, creative pleasure culture is the first thing to go when a city becomes scared for it's life. That was the downfall of Berlin, Cordova, Rome, London... Once they got lame, it was over.

That party is thrown by the tzaddik, in his generation. The baal Ha Tanya brings down, and i can't imagine it's not an idea from the Zohar already, what makes a tzaddik better than other people? Just a love of pleasure. Ahavat Taanugim, this is what makes us demand more from ourselves and our God. Holy arrogance grows out of the love of pleasure that will not tolerate the lame. What's Avodah Zara? Zar, lashon strange, scattered (zaruah), awkward, uncomfortable. Lame service, paid despite the lack of real pleasure. Ever get involved with someone, only to realize, oh, half way into the sex act that you really didn't want to be there? a tzaddik would then say so, and either get up and leave, or find a way to genuine make it fun. A beinoni would just accept it, try not to hurt the poor girls feelings, and fake interest. A rasha would blame her for not being good enough.

Why aren't we all on the level of tzaddik? We're afraid we don't deserve it, aren't strong enough to handle it, couldn't appreciate it. Why do we get tired at parties so fast sometimes, why is it so hard to dance for too long, to Love for too long? We're afraid of pushing ourselves, and getting hurt. Or disapointing someone else.

The tzaddik is responsible for "feeding" everyone. If he doesn't, people, angels, and god will hold him responsible for pretending to be The One Who could "take care of it." Be careful what you commit to, we're taught, because then someone will expect it.

And be willing to do amazing things, to be amazing, impossible. The tzaddik does the impossible, or rather, adjusts what we believed was possible. Mostly through grace.

It is known that all prayer is received through grace, that is, charm, cuteness. Noah is not saved nessesarily because he deserved to be saved, says the talmud, just because he was cute. That's what made him "a tzaddik in his generation"

The baal Hatanya brings down, presumeably from the kitvei Ari, who might well be bringing down from the zohar, what makes a tzaddik different? Ahavas Taanugim, love of pleasures. That's all.

"What's the point of candy?", one of the four failed initiates into Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory asks. Five kids enter, all except for one through means and ways, each on their own path to "success," each being consumed and rejected by what they've mis-identified the Main Purpose of life. Money. Success. Intelligence. Sweetness.

They have all identified their God, their source of pleasure, and are all undone when what they expected to guide them just makes them too obnoxious to live.

What's the main thing Hashem demands? Stay interesting. The faliure of every dismantled society and subculture, no matter how devoted and brilliant, is being the same for too long.
Don't be too much a tzaddik, lest ye become stagnant and obnoxious, expecting the same old drug/god to work the same way forever. I heard Shalom Ahron Dym once say, why is the Torah always refered to in Lashon Toseph, addition, innovation? Because if it isn't new all the time, what good is it?

"Candy doesn't need a point. Candy just is." Says the little boy, so poor, his family can only afford one candy bar a year, which they give him for his birthday.

For his grace, his refusal to demand anything from the ride besides the ride, he is given the keys to the Kingdom, the chocolate factory itself. And he refuses it, when told it can only come at the price of ever seeing his family again.

Family is kind of offered as the opposite of candy in both films. Dependable, contractive, warming and nutrtive, family is what Michael Alig reaches for at the end of Party Monster. Finally in prison for murder, Michael declares his plan to get marry his girlfriend, settle down and straighten out into what might actually be called sometimes "real" life.
Alas, she's overdosed and dead, too much chocolate, too much life.

Charlie's grandfathers give him different ranges of advice, clarifying the priorities that he, even in his infinite goodness, could not recognize. Chalie is ready to give up his Golden ticket for money to help his poor, impovershed family, his cynicalest Grand father tells him, why trade something so special and rare for something as common as money? Biglal Avos, only because of what we've learned from the ancestors, are we able to save so much time making the same mistakes, and while an Am ha-aretz, a limited-to-common sense person can be a fine chasid, he can't be a proper tzaddik, someone who actually does what's most right and correct, because he doesn't have access to The Things Experience Has Taught Before. He is nourished on endless cabbage soup, the opposite of chocolate in both price and effect.

Cabbage is drying, cheap, and doesn't go bad very much at all. It dispells parasites, and prepares the I for life and health, so that when the chocolate comes to blow your mind, you have a mind built up to blow.

I heard a wise man (Dr Mike Harris) once say, don't do psychedelics while you're too young, there's nothing to blow yet. Build a healthy ego first before you go knocking it down.
Willy Wonka ran from his oppresive dentist father (Christopher Lee!) fleeing his strict and righteous health advice, and grows up to eat nothing but candy. He is Free, his imagination and genius unfettered by the assumptions and impositions that family/cabbage makes about what is possible and what is healthy. And ultimately, he needs to come back to wholeness, only by re-integrating family and counsel into his life, first being taken by Charlie to reconcile with his father, who, it tear jerkingly turns out, has been watching his son grow and been keeping clippings charting Willy Wonka's success in neatly organized scrapbooks, and then, by sitting and feasting with Charlie's family, ultimatly becoming part of it.

Michael suffers from much the same freedom, the drugs, just a side effect of allowing his vision to expand infinitely. Polysexual, dressing and behaving with infinite creativity and openness, his mother is portrayed as an utterly vapid and irrelevant creature, just along for the parties and glamour, putting no check, offering no guidance to Michael ever, besides demanding drugs and limosines. No wonder he seems to be trying to build the funnest, most beautiful family ever, desperate for love and good times, brutally sensitive to heartbreaks and all manner of pain, furiously insulted when people keep dying on him.

Don't you feel like you've found the greatest, funnest family ever? If you haven't yet, I bless you to feel that way at once. Thank God for good Shabbos, good community, and the amazing torah, or candy, or whatever brings us together. I feel like better Torah brings better community into being, and i'm so greatful for all the love I keep finding. Be blessed to have the good supplies of both, and the sweetest balance ever.

Candy is no fun with no one to share it with, this is a big part of both stories. Even as Michael sits in prison, he calls the "best friend" who betrayed him to the authorities, and still talks to him about how much he loves and misses him. chocolate cannot be appreciated without a life of cabbage, and this is the secret, ultimately, of Torah and the Tzaddik. Hamayvin Yaavin, yeah?

Thanks again, you guys. Be blessed with a religion worth rocking and Welcome to the party that will not stop.


Anonymous BrooklynHabiru said...

an addiction to truth
to share with others
fine aloof
but better with brothers

to share the warmth of reflection
getting drunk on secrects of perfection

plumbing its depths
between breathing and drowning
a sip for a gasp
the eternal crowning

12:28 PM

Blogger Tamara said...

"Candy doesn't need a point. Candy just is."

There's a wonderful Zen Buddhist story about a monk who asks his students why they ride their bikes.

The first one says he does it because it's good exercise. The second says he does it because it's environmentally friendly.

The third one says he rides his bike to ride his bike. The monk throws himself at that student's feet and says "I want you to be my teacher!"

3:40 PM

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