Way back when art was still made (pieces of themselves which people called pictures and songs and poems and movies and so on), sometimes it was real Art, capable of healing—which is to say, once upon a time humankind felt things and vulnerability was considered a virtue, encouraged, even. If you can believe it. The trouble was, way back then, real Art was work, real hard work, and when it came to work most people were utterly artless. And so, we left the art to the artists—persons who didn’t mind getting their hands dirty, who didn’t mind a meager spiritual return—while we, ourselves, content to listen, to marvel from a distance at creation but take no part in it, began to consume the sights and sounds around us rather than hear or see them for what they were. Contentment being what it was—humans being human—we developed a tolerance. We became critics. Soon, there were more critics than there were artists, and no one could agree on anything. Everyone was a critic, especially the artists, because within everyone was a creative drive starving for inspiration.
Of all the earthly appetites, the indulgences of true Art were next to none. But it turned out we were gluttons. And we were proud. We were so very proud, taking in, giving back nothing, demanding more. In this regard, we can blame ourselves. Call it hubris. The Gods were always calling humanity out on that—a prime offense. A prime mover: we couldn’t help ourselves. Whenever real Art was made, we put it on a pedestal. We put it on display. We even pretended it was God, sometimes, not just offerings. We worshipped it. We sexualized it. We got off on it. We ate it up. We welcomed judgement.
The God who came appeared to humanity as a great big Tomato with a green toupee. It had been watching the Earth drama from on far, not unlike so many Earthlings numbing themselves with sensations all the rage. It was Biblical, the way we destroyed ourselves for want of understanding ourselves. Eden burned and everyone carried matches. And yet—from these ashes sprung the highest Art. Seeing us lust about in this way, the big Tomato grew to want a closer look. A taste. It got off on our scheming eloquence in the face of self-inflicted doom. Let it be said, this could have led only to our current state of social sobriety, now.
But, for a time, the big Tomato God grew friendly and bright, bordering on overripe, Its skin brimming sweet red, tearing as It spasmed in fruition. So long as we impressed the Tomato with our plight, all the fighting and backsliding and deceit in the world ceased. Suddenly, there was money in everybody’s pockets, and everybody went to bed at night with full bellies and a roof over their heads with clean drinking water on tap; and everybody was more tolerant and openminded and true to their word; and they chewed with their mouths closed, covered their mouths when they coughed; and people pulled up their pants, used their blinkers, bathed regularly, made sure women got theirs first; and there was general goodwill toward humankind.
But how critical, the God who came. In our defense, we had a lot less to make art about when people got along and looked out for one another instead of living lives devoted to gratifying themselves. Where was the tension? Where was the suspense? The double-cross? The sacrifice? The death?
The big Tomato grew harder and harder to please, unimpressed, peeved. It grew rotten, downright nasty! If the big Tomato had truly given, now it took away.
Life on Earth became increasingly dogmatic trying to please this great big Tomato we called God. For the sake of progress, we abandoned our Ideals. We sold out. We gave the Tomato what it wanted, never mind the cost. We rehashed old ideas; we tried to remember. We “recycled.” There were many names for what we did, all awful—and to no avail. In the end, we killed our Would-be God. We starved It, the great big Tomato that came down from the sky, for us. A bad movie was made about it, and remade, and made again, and…
Jimmy Huff is a writer and musician from the Missouri Ozarks, USA. His work has appeared in Third Flatiron Anthologies, Dirty Chai Magazine, Eastern Iowa Review, and other lovely places.
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