CREDOS: Live to the lees — III

Something seems out of place, something doesn’t fit, and we think, there must be a way to put this puzzle together. Maybe there isn’t. Maybe the best we can hope for is the pleasure of tackling a hard problem.

I’ve spent my life in the theatre, so sometimes when I think about this a play comes to mind: Stephen Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”. It’s a mindless, funny romp of a musical comedy. And Sondheim knows that, even as we laugh, the part of our brain that has made us so successful on this planet is saying, “Yes, it’s funny. But what does it mean?” He knows that the problem-solver in us wants a useful moment; a flash of insight — at the very least, a handy moral. But Sondheim’s ahead of us. At the end of the play, as I remember, the chorus looks at us, almost with pity, and sings: “What is the moral? Must be a moral.” Then, they throw us a bone: “Moral tomorrow — Comedy Tonight!”

Maybe that’s us at the end of our lives. Maybe it’s more about having enjoyed it than understanding it. At the end when, as the Italians say, “la commedia è finita”— we’re lying there in our suite at the Worldwide Hotel, about to check out and thinking, so what was that all about? And at that moment, the door to the bedroom opens and the chorus dances into the room, singing: “What is the moral? Must be a moral. Moral tomorrow. Comedy tonight!” Maybe that assumption comes from the kind of problem-solving brain we have. — (Concluded)