Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Unpleasant Topic

This blog post probably marks the last time I’ll address an unpleasant topic, and I apologize in advance. I feel that I have no choice. However, this issue keeps coming out, or bubbling up, whatever the case may be. I’m of course talking about farts. I don’t want to talk about farts, especially during the holidays. Trust me. As most of my readers know by now, I don’t even like the sound of the word. I tried to banish this four-letter word from my blog, but it keeps coming back. Why? These ubiquitous monstrosities of gaseous waste seemed to emerge everywhere and at anytime. Nothing is sacred in this world.

I’m sitting in the coffee shop enjoying a caffeinated beverage when suddenly someone decides to sit at a table next to me. Farts. I’m at the gym using a weight machine when a woman with a sheepish expression walks by. Farts. I’m washing my hands in a restaurant restroom when the stalls seem to erupt into a cacophony of evil. Farts, farts. I’m just trying to enjoy my bean burrito at Taco Bell. Farts. Two things in this life have always hindered my belief in a benevolent, providential God at the helm of everything: farts and mosquitoes. I’m addressing only the latter pestilence currently. These pernicious things taint what would otherwise be a beautiful and good world.

I think I read somewhere once that Leibniz predicated what he called "theodicy," or the problem of pain, on the mere presence of farts in the world, after spending an exorbitant amount of time at a local beer hall. He had just invented calculus, and needed some R&R time.  He was trying to enjoy a tall dark lager, much like me with my dark roast in Starbucks the other day, when the foul winds of fate turned his mind toward the problem of evil. The best of all possible worlds, he reasoned, would be devoid of farts. When Voltaire developed the character Dr. Pangloss to poke fun at Leibniz in his Candide, the French writer, for all his penchant for sarcasm and wit, did not mention the true origins of Leibniz’s theodicy: farts. Truth is stranger than fiction!