Monday, June 29, 2009

The Invisible Jet

Civilization by Marco Brambilla from CRUSH on Vimeo.

Unable and powerless to circumvent my miseries, daunted, discouraged and unable to face reality, I sought refuge in God and gave myself utterly to God. All that I loved and cared for, my family, my home, perished before my eyes; finally, my body and my life; yet my soul was immortal and lived on. At the sound of trumpets, though I thought myself a good and pious man, I admit that, I feared the final judgment of the truly righteous and was much relieved when found myself ushered by heavenly beings of kind and gentle countenance upwards to brilliant vault of clouds, like a glorious roll of fabric, a place of great peace and solace, the inner lining of which seemed cool, quiet and tasteful.

Every one in heaven is in a state of beatitude. There are, of course, degrees of beatitude, each fitting, each infinite and incomparable in its own way, but some beatitudes are clearly greater than others, just as one infinity can be greater than another.

The simplest beatitude is the entry level one; everyone feels really great that they made it in to heaven. This feeling is pretty much identical to getting into the college of one’s choice; the feeling, however, never diminishes and you never have to hear about how someone else got into Harvard.

The next degree of beatitude can be compared to the afterglow from getting amazing oral sex from someone really famous, someone you’ve fantasized about, but never thought you would actually meet because they were too good for you, or died in Ford’s theatre. This is the good kind of oral sex, the kind that is big, wet, Boston Marathon of unrelenting pleasure, the kind with lots of involuntary motions and expressions, the kind where your face is sore and wet afterwards from crying and you go around for days afterwards with a soft, stupid pleased expression and giggle when poked. Only, of course, this never ends.

The following degree of beatitude can be described as simultaneously winning the lottery, the Olympics, the all the Nobel Awards and Academy Awards simultaneously, and then having a Bruce Willis-style shootout with an all-star team of terrorists, which you win while saving the Earth and destroying the Death Star. This is basically a “fuck yeah!” that never ends on a rocket powered hang glider that shoots past the event horizon of total awesome.

There are, of course, infinite levels of beatitude, so there is no way to describe them all. I was gifted with a degree of beatitude roughly equivalent to the most incredible ski vacation imaginable, with infinite skill and agility on staggering slopes of perfect beauty on a snowy planet made entirely of cocaine.

Everyone in heaven accepts being there, even if, like me, they doubted for a second. “Smug” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I mean, fuck, we’re in heaven! How fucking cool is that, huh? It pretty much obliterates every shitty, humiliating, painful moment in one’s life. I mean, you just think of your old yearbook, and it appears, but you never even open it, because you just start laughing.

I came across an another angel. She was more beautiful than any shampoo ad or ad for any feminine product for a beautiful, mortal, decaying body. She was listening to a pair of slender headphones that were white. I asked her telepathically what she was listening to. She let me listen. It was the sound of the damned, the sound of flesh searing, ripping and popping, the sound of people being baked alive, screams of absolute horror, panic and dismay and, worst of all, some terrible unnamable realization, some common note on which they harmonized in agony. It sounded like a remastered track of the Holocaust, put through the Hindenburg, with a low bass rumble from Nagasaki with samples from every awful thing that man has ever done. It was the most beautiful and heavenly music I had ever heard, as though Bach had had access to Black people and cocaine. As I looked into the eyes of this beautiful angel, I wept. The tears turned into matching doves and flew away. She said, “let's go get ice cream” and we flew away to get ice cream at one of heaven's many ice cream parlors, but then we thought of God's infinite goodness and it was sweeter and more satisfying than any ice cream.

There isn’t a lot of catching up in Heaven. Heaven is when you realize that your Mom or your Dad, your child, your best friend or loved one is doing all right, just by themselves, just by being themselves and you can’t add anything to that. They are perfect. You don’t need to write them a letter, or pay them a call. They are, like yourself, perfect and fulfilled. Unless they are burning in infinite torment in hell. But that fact cannot bother you. Not here. Not now. It’s one of the things you have to experience in heaven to understand, just like its amazing cloud topiary.

There is an open bar, of course, but there is no point in drinking. Once you are in heaven, you are already happier than the most incredible drunk that would kill ten Martin Amises. The booze goes down like water, it passes through us like rain through mist.

Wonder Woman and her invisible jet are here. And Wonder Woman no longer has to wear clothes.

Heaven like a huge airport with infinite clean white terminals and everyone is waiting for the same plane. That plane is God. Even here it is uncertain when He will arrive. It is always possible he may be delayed (delay is not an imperfection). It may even be possible that He does not exist. This does not alter the reality of the fact we are waiting.

Deep down, everyone in heaven imagines the same thing. That they may, in fact, be completely alone here. That every other soul they encounter is an illusion, an extra. That only they were saved, were truly righteous. That they were so righteous, they loved everyone and everything, even though they were not worthy of that love. That they themselves are God, and that creation, the fall of man and salvation are just some imagined story, some thought experiment or let’s pretend game that they have created for their own delight, to show their infinite omnipotence.

This thought is thought by all those in heaven: it shines before them when they close their imaginary eyes, like a single point in space, a single distant star.

Monday, June 22, 2009

ผม เป็น คุณ อเมริกัน: "I'm an Amerigan"

-Welcome to the American Embassy.

-Permission to God Bless the USA, sir!

-Permission granted, son; here's a cold one: shotgun!


-What are you here for, son?

-I need to sign a document affirming that I am who I say I am and my God-given American birth, sir!

-Goddamn foreigners don't know an American on the ground. We are The Sky People. They know us by the crack of our thunder and what drops from the skies, be it food, bombs, guns, or Angelina Frickin' Jolie. That's why Jesus Christ gave us HIS USAF. You're a goddamn red blooded American son-of-a-gun if I ever saw one.

-Sir, yes, sir! Permission to put my feet up and talk in a loud voice, sir!

-Permission granted. At ease. Now listen here, son, I can tell just by looking at the way you didn't walk here that you're as American as Die Hard 4 on Blue-Ray DVD bought at Wal-Mart. I don't need to look up your skirts and see the whole DAR. This here's a formality, but just look into my eyes and tell me the myth, sing me the song of What It Means To Be An American.

-Yes, sir! It was late at night on a country road. We drank whisky and beer and looked at corn and listened to the radio. I danced on the open plains of the hood of a moving American car and made love in the backseat that was dark and vast like the Grand Canyon at night. My love was like a fire on a slave ship that sets the prisoners free and then burns and drowns them in the cold dark night. I woke up covered with scratches I couldn't remember and a tattoo inked in my veins that I couldn't read that said I would drive on this road with the sun in my eyes until the day I died, alone.

-Goddammit, son, if crying wasn't for pussies, I'd kiss you right now. Instead, here are two free coupons to Applebee's. They are proof of who you are and your American birthright. You can show them anywhere and be proud you're an American. But always remember: they are not valid with any other special or discount and have no cash value.

-Thank you, sir.

-You got anywheres to go right now? You can stay and sit a spell if you want to. It's a free country. Pull a chair, take in some Simpsons or Sean Hannity.

-No, sir, thank you, sir. An American's got to keep moving. It's where the frontier and the drive-thru is.

-Carry on, son, carry on.

Written in the US Embassy June 8th, in the Year of Our Lord 2008.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It is Impossible to Become Enlightened in Bangkok

It has been said [citation needed] by monks that it is impossible to become enlightened in Bangkok.


My friend Tim (ติ๋ม, a not uncommon girl's name) is probably an good instantiation of why Bangkok can be a hellish place to live: people in LA drive narcissistically; Tim drives sociopathically, seeing the narrow spaces between lanes and cars like psychopath with a steak knife sees spaces between a living person's ribs: a place to go, a place where something can be inserted rapidly and without hesitation, because it'sfor me. this time Tim is squawking on the cell phone in a voice that sounds like bawling, like stepping on a baby, sometimes while showing me pictures on the same cell phone. She's complains about her boyfriend, but I'm not sure which one or why, because there are two of them on the phone, neither of which, it turns out, was the one introduced to me as her boyfriend the other day.

Tim is (to put it quite clearly) built so that her shape approaches constant mean curvature; her boyfriends seem like really attractive nice guys; there is some unspeakable explanation for this, but my mind refuses to consider it and it eludes me.

Tim asks if I want to go the mountains with her for a few days: she needs a break. Like myself, Tim is unemployed, so this is quite understandable. I ask what's there. She says rocks, goats. I ask her what she'll do there. She says look at rocks, goats, make food, barbecue, look at goats at night. Anything she wants, really. I tell her how great that sounds. I tell her that unfortunately, I am leaving the country on Monday, and never, ever coming back again. She shows me a picture of her friend. Cute, I say. She's not that cute.

I notice that in some of the photos Tim is wearing an unusually shapeless outfit in bed. Was she in the hospital? Yes, she replies enthusiastically. Then Tim shows me pictures of her friends visiting her in the hospital. Apparently she had an operation. To remove something. From her head. From inside her head? I ask. Yes, apparently from inside. She cannot translate the word for what it was. "Ask your Mom," she says.

I ask if she was scared. She said yes, because she saw ghosts. What did they look like? She said they looked exactly like the ghosts in in every Asian horror movie you've ever seen. Except for the one with the hair dryer. That one looked like “Baywatch.”

Good thing. That they got that thing. Out of her head.

After driving through a completely unrelated parking garage, we arrive at the Emporium. The Emporium turns out to be a mall, a kleptocratic upscalery, a sort of Valhalla for vain, rich people. Here I narrowly escape watching Seven Poundsby simply blurting out the ending. After that close call, survival instinct takes over and I casually ask when we're getting back. When I want to, seems to be her answer.

A man by the escalator offers Tim a flyer. She takes it and throws it away as she gets on the escalator. I laugh. I've been laughing a lot. Like every time the car seemed like it was about to crush a living thing.

Tim drops by a weight loss clinic that is apparently set a few years in the future. The illuminated pictures seem to suggest that once you complete the program, you will be able to fit into all sorts of plastic bondage gear, that seem to have bluetooth built into them for some reason.

On the way out, Tim falls upon a case of shiny things, nosing up to a display of gougeous horloges with an audible squeal of avarice which is not unlike the sound when doves cry and shit themselves. When she managed to pull herself away, the ghosts of her nose and her fingers hung on the glass.

It turns out that we are going to a grocery store. It's quite a fancy grocery store: it has actual cheese. Once you do the conversion rate, the food is quite affordably priced. For a Whole Foods. In Low Earth Orbit. I consider getting my Dad some nice ham for a sandwich, but then realized that this would make the retired physician about as happy as a carton of cigarettes and cost about the same.

Tim is apparently there to buy some juice and frozen carrots, that, for some reason, require the attention of the store manager what I presume is the juice sommelier. She tells me to go look around. She gives me her cell number. It's completely wrong. I giver her my number, because I can always destroy my phone later. I get around the corner, where there are tooth brushes and a blonde farung riding on his skateboard, when I realize that if I lose sight of Tim, she is never going to be able to explain where she is or where we should meet. So I go back to looking at all the famous, well-known brands of liquor they stock, like Black Velvet Whisky, Gibby's Gin, and El Oucho Tequila. Then I realize I don't drink anymore and go back to looking at Fanta. I had promised myself a Fanta earlier. It's 13.50 baht. What do you know, I thought, the old man was right: nothing costs 1 baht or less, but they slap pennies on it anyway.

Tim meanwhile, has successfully gotten the manager to open a bag of frozen carrots, to reveal that, to Tim's satisfaction, the bag of frozen carrots has frozen carrots in it, all meeting some unknown and private rubric. The juice is juicy enough. I ask Tim what flavor of Fanta I should get. She doesn't know. I pick one. Tim insists on buying it for me with a remarkably strong and consistent grip on the bottle.

I'd been having trouble buying things myself lately, the kind of trouble that only comes from a lifetime of shame and dread at not speaking Thai. I was doing better on this trip but that's only in comparison to a lifetime of shame and dread at not speaking Thai. Because, it's all very well until I actually try and say anything, because then, instead of communication, the result is sometimes an unforgettable look of shame and betrayal. Or this could just be in my head. And, except for people audibly talking about me, I suppose it is.

I let Tim stand in line at the checkout and went over to look at Staedtler pens: this is how you know you are perhaps spending too much on groceries: your grocery has it's own stationary store with 0.05 mm pigment liner pens. Now I had just bought a pen, for all of 50 cents, but it was a little thick. By my father's book, this meant I could not spend an additional dollar to buy another pen unless it was an emergency and I needed to sign something to save a human life. But I was sick of letting myself down, so I mustered up the courage to actually hand a pen to the cashier and hope no questions were to follow. I held my breath but thank god, no one has any manners anymore and nothing was said.

On the way out, there is a television crew and an off the rack looking pop band on stage full of good looking kids. Tim suddenly turns to me and says: wait here and runs off. I don't know where. This seems as good a time as any to deploy my Fanta and ask myself if I really have any idea where I am.

I once got lost in Bangkok when I was a kid. This seems to have left the indelible impression on my family that I can't be left anywhere in Bangkok for fifteen minutes without falling into some spontaneous jeopardy. Now I don't. Really believe that. Any more than. I believe. That people really care. About the fact. That I talk. Like an idiot. Like someone who has had. An operation. On their brain. No, I don't care about that. I can't anymore.

Tim actually reappears. All the frozen food we bought means we are actually going home. On the way, I ask Tim if she wants to go to America: she can have my room. My mom likes you, I said. This was true. Everyone thought that Tim was crazy. My father always thought that my mom was crazy. But Tim always knew the great places to eat. And she knew how to bargain.

She said she wanted to go to Austraila. I asked her if she liked it cold. She said she did. I said that Sydney sounded great. I wondered aloud of what the Austrailian people would make of her. Then I laughed aloud again.

It was only later in the dark of the evening, I considered how I really didn't mind being bossed around so much, or being dragged on unclear errands by Tim. I was a pretty boy and a nice one. That's where she got them.

Introduction: What is Naak Leuuap? นาค เหลือบ อะไร

Naak Leuuap นาค เหลือบ is a blog that will run at least one year from this date, updating every other Monday (GMT+7).

At the completion of its run I will have to take a break from publishing, as I will be ordaining as a Buddhist monk.

Naak Leuuap นาค เหลือบ is a quiet place in a tropical city where I will recount memoirs of my life on Mars and my adventures with my Master, as well as provide true and accurate descriptions of a completely fictional city as such will be useful for travelers and debut another completely new genre of fiction I have created, I call "Monster Poop Stories" while being treated for leprosy.

Naak Leuuap นาค เหลือบ is a terrible, anonymous confession, motivated by the many crimes that precipitated my flight from the US.

Naak Leuuap นาค เหลือบ is intended to be a play on words.

Naak Leuuap นาค เหลือบ is actually being written in Arlington, VA.