Round Vast Empty Dark

First venture into William H. Gass. Randomly picked up “A Temple of Texts”; started reading an essay entitled “Sacred Texts”. I need to keep going through the list inside my brain of “authors I probably should have read already but never got round to it” because I got a winner on this one.

And God decided to write the world. He wrote the words round vast empty dark. They made a line He liked. He wrote the word vast in triplicate because He wanted the world to be very, very vast. He wrote the word empty twice because he wanted the world to be mostly empty, so that one might turn tens of thousands of its pages and find them all blank and black. The word black he doubled for the same reason. There was no point in writing the word round more than once, because whatever was round (and surely round was round) could not become any rounder. Then he wrote revolve so there might be a place for time, but nothing did, for there was nothing but a vast emptiness, as He had decreed; moreover, had that vast dark empriness turned, no one would have noticed. God had thought He could write down whatever He wished. But the Creator was corrected by his creation. God had thought he was omnipotent until He began to write.

God remembered, being omniscient, how Plato’s Demiurge would one day do it. When the Demiurge was confronted by the problem of creating the lower parts of the human soul, he realized he had better ooutsource that aspect of the job (as we say now), because the lower parts of the soul called for imperfection, and imperfection was exactly what was beyond the Demiurge’s abilities. Instructed by the future, then, God wrote host of angelic scriveners in His very long hand. Let them do the writing which is damnably hard, God silently, inside Himself, said; I’ll just publish.

God had created the scriveners for a not entirely laudable purpose. It made Him less responsible for all the divinely inspired balderdash they’d fill the earth with, but the glut had grown embarrassing. Not all of these fellows had Chrysostom’s golden throat. He thought about tossing the lot out of heaven and into some fiery pit, but he remembered in time that there was no heaven in His system, only in theirs, and no hell in His either. Go roast you tongue in you own lies, He said, stroking the beard some said He had, letting the no-longer-holy host be swallowed up in the fog of their own illusions. I’ll catechize the four I can count on.

round vast empty dark