That which machines have wrought, machines must sell,
As that ancient prophet Veblen foretold,
And you'd do well to remember that,
Lest God grow cranky, said Marguerite,
And turn your twitter down, or even off.
But then an idea struck my thinking
With the force of a marlin attacking bait.
A pyramid distribution, it whispered.
What's that? I whispered back. Speak louder!
A hierarchy of distributorships,
Said the voice, more loudly, is set up.
The size of distributorship you receive
Is a function of how much you can invest.
The product flows down the pyramid
And the proceeds will flow right back up.
At the apex is the Prophet of the Lord,
And at the base are the masses of losers
Onto which bales of sackcloth descend.
It's a proven get-rich quick technique.
The streets of great Nineveh are littered
With dietary supplement containers
That skidded down the sides of pyramids.
Donations, true, bring steady income,
But sackcloth's another profit centre
That only total fools would overlook.
It's a perfect opportunity, friend,
To do God's work and make extra bucks.
I like that idea, I informed the voice,
I like it a lot, and I think it will work.
As my fame increased I began to attract
The multitudes of spiritual seekers,
Backslid sinners and mere dilettantes
Who drift from evangelist to evangelist
In search of any relief from tedium.
And each night more came to hear me speak,
Which I began to find an irritation
Since often I really had nothing to say
Beyond those few words the fish had taught.
Really all they needed to do was buy
Books and videos and three ring binders
Crammed with cartoons and simple sentences
That fully outlined my foolproof program,
Pay me and take it away as homework;
I'll send a truck around with sackcloth.
But of the many who came to hear me speak,
Many of them did not go away again
But instead did choose to follow me around
And style themselves as my loyal disciples.
These I did my best to dissuade,
Inventing absurd dietary laws
And clearly preposterous prohibitions.
Thus I drove away one immense mob,
Equal in numbers to the population
Of Greater Metropolitan Nineveh,
With the suggestion there could be no salvation
Unless they subsisted only on locusts.
I couldn't take that, said Marguerite,
Not even ground up in blender drinks
Mixed together with orange juice and yeast.
You'd need to hold me down, force-feed me
Against the press of my hot, rising gorge,
Salvation or not, if lunch was a locust.
I could have used my ditty, but did not.
Instead, I told them that to eat the locust
Was manifestly the right thing to do,
And also it is good, nutritious food,
And listed, like the more vocal cricket,
Among those the Lord permits us to eat.
This advice was enough to send away
Many who, like you, were too squeamish,
Sent them off to find an easier path,
Off to find a better approach to God,
An enlightenment with a better menu.
Yet for each who'd leave, another stayed,
Not only stayed, but stayed to hear more
Helpful soteriological hints
On which apostles own exclusive rights,
Available only from Godhead's prophets.
So I told them to eat their locusts raw,
Without sauces or other seasonings,
And another mob thereupon departed,
For while the meats of the Assyrian locust
Will possess a delicate flavour when cooked,
Eaten raw the flesh is rather bitter
And brittle, chitinous exoskeletons
Are hard to chew, still harder to digest.
Yet for each who would leave, another would stay.
I told them they must eat their locusts alive,
That one could hunt locust only in months
Whose names in Turkish lack the letter 'R",
That one may not ever use explosives
On members of the family Locustidae
In order to facilitate their capture
As they lie stunned, insensate on the ground,
That one must always eat a locust whole,
No matter how large and energetic
The particular insect in question,
And that one must consider the consumption
Of the females, of the larvae and the cripples
And the ones with horizontal red strips
Running along the dark, dorsal thorax
Absolutely taboo and unsporting.
And with each new, more absurd commandment,
Half again the once devout would depart.
But so constrained are my wits and so populous
Is Greater Metropolitan Nineveh,
That when my small locust-lore was exhausted,
There did still remain a vast multitude,
And each of those faithful who still remained
Was evidently an absolute fool.
One had only to observe the great mob
Go berserk in search of communal feast,
Locusts having become rare, if not extinct,
In the city's immediate vicinity,
To be assured that if all these brains
Were collected together, mashed and distilled,
Not a single gram of sense would be left
To dilute the dull liquour thus produced,
Fit only to be bottled up and sold
As light beer to gullible mountain folk.
Liber Jonae Contents