Jester Guru Chronicles, Part 4: The Cosmic Joke

“There is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream—a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought—a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities.” ~ Mark Twain

Life is a joke. Reality is a thought in free-fall holographically projected through space. It’s a big fat billowy dream of things seeming to be the case that are not even the case at all. It’s a series of illusory moments bleeding into other illusory moments that are all mocking the “here and now” in a dance of meaning in an otherwise meaningless universe.

Indeed, it’s a terribly absurd clash of meaning against meaninglessness, of finitude against infinity, of light against dark. And here we are: these little descendants of stars in stinky meat sacks trying to make sense of it all. Yes, life is a big joke, and a terribly told one at that.


But the question is: are you laughing at the joke or are you the butt-end? Are you caught in the throes of absurdity or have you let it all go with a trickster dance and a mighty laugh? Are you a drowning duck or are you the duck that has perfected the art of letting water roll off its back?

The good thing is: there is more than one way to skin Schrödinger’s cat. For example: I’m a quantum-mechanic dissecting the cosmos and exorcising the ghost in the atom with Occam forceps, Zeno skull-clamps, and a Planck-sized scalpel in superpostion with its own cut.

And I’m here to tell you that you’ve been duped. You’ve been bamboozled. You’ve been hoodwinked by political claptrap and religious codswallop. You’ve been overly spoon-fed. But, here’s the real kick in the pants: you’re doing it to yourself.

You’ve swallowed belief and sidestepped thinking for yourself. You’ve blindly revered parochial traditions. You’ve taken to heart too many hand-me-down philosophies. You’ve taken them too seriously. You’ve taken yourself too seriously. In short, you have not questioned things enough. Questioning should only ever be to the nth degree, lest we inadvertently become the playthings of charlatans and snake-oil salesmen.

Question everything. Question even this diatribe about questioning things. It’s the only way to guard against being the butt-end of the joke.

Like Aldous Huxley said, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Truth is not readily evident. Healthy transformation is not a given. It takes massive amounts of discipline, a riot of the heart against preconceived convention. One must be able to transform fear into courage and pain into strength and both into art. And then counterintuitively be able to laugh at it all.

Our small minds drive us toward stability, security, and pacification of the senses. But we need more variability, vulnerability, and provocation. We need bigger minds with simpler urges and the plasticity to handle the vicissitudes of change, because change, the only impermanent permanent, is the slap in the face that follows the cosmic joke.


We either honor it with laughter and high humor, or we dishonor it with stagnant ideals and stuck-in-the-muck religiosity. We live in a world of hungry ghosts that should not be fed. Rather, they should be transformed into something of substance, something that can feed itself.

Like Tom Robbins said, “We’re our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.”

This process begins first by admitting how we are victims, and then being proactive about how to become a hero, how to become a person with the capacity to laugh at the cosmic joke instead of a person crippled from being the butt-end of it. Let’s empower the victim. Let’s exorcise the ghost.

Let’s slay the dragon. Better yet, let’s hug the demon and transform it into an ally, a powerful muse that we can use as an inspiration to navigate through the joke. Let’s grow in fits of courage and self-liberation.

Let’s push through existential thresholds sharp enough to cut our souls, and then let’s regroup to lick our wounds, to seek the consolation of our comfort zone so that we can mend. Then we can do it all over again.

Like Anaïs Nin said, “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Indeed, the greatest of all arts is the art of healthy self-transformation. And the greatest method toward perfecting this art is questioning things to the nth degree.

Like the Buddha said, “He who asks a question is a fool for a minute. He who does not remains a fool forever.”

quote-a-serious-and-good-philosophical-work-could-be-written-consisting-entirely-of-jokes-ludwig-wittgenstein-200854So it is that I will continue to be a reminder of the contingency and arbitrariness of the human condition. I will continue to elude your conditioned notions of right and wrong.

I will forever refuse to correspond with your outdated notions of good and evil. I will continue to play pranks on you and laugh at your seriousness, not to make you feel embarrassed or stupid, but to show you ways that you can start being more humorous and less self-serious. There’s no certainty, only opportunity. Vi veri veniversum vivus vici: by the power of truth we, while living, shall conquer the universe.

In the end, your life is your message. Will it be a life of contained ownership, or liberated detachment? Will it be a life of remaining a victim to the violent philosophy of others, or a life of becoming a hero with the courage to create a philosophy of humor and love? Will it be a life of being the butt-end of the joke, or a life of laughing at the joke despite it?

High humor can be your saving grace, but first you must laugh, and laugh hard, at all the false gods and false men you’ve propped up around you to keep yourself safe and contained. Laugh at it all, because I assure you they are laughing at you.

Forget “I think therefore I am.” That’s old hat. Embrace “I think therefore I laugh.” That, my friends, is where the gold’s at.

Image source:

Laughing Buddhas
Wittgenstein quote

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.


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