Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Silence for Sale

Playing in the background: Marsha Long, Angel Rhapsody

It's been a while since I picked on the DharmaCrafts catalog, that purveyor of fine merchandise handmade for your enlightenment pleasure and shipped to your door via FedEx. Partly that's because Joan bought me a fine string of cedar mala beads from this catalog for Christmas - a bargain at only $19.99, even if it won't get you nearly as far down the path of realization as will a 14k gold Mobius bracelet ($1,400.) But it's also because, frankly, it's too easy. I don't go looking for humor in situations that are already funny to begin with. I look for it in weird places like Catholic funerals and the debate over health care reform. I gotta say, I think Stephen Colbert must have the easiest job in all of comedy. "The jokes practically write themselves," one could say. Here's a brilliant rant about Sarah Palin and the "death panels", none of which is made up, except maybe the part about throwing magnets at the fridge.

Course I hadn't yet seen this month's DharmaCrafts, featuring a new! Improved! piece of merchandise that is a must-have for any serious sangha student: A CD of silence.

Well, okay, it's not called that. It's called an "end chime for meditation", and you can buy it here. To get an idea of what it's all about, I'm gonna quote you the product description verbatim:

No more watching the clock! This CD offers selectable silence up to 70 minutes. Then a low pitched Tibetan singing bowl is struck three times to signal the end of a silent meditation period. You can select the desired length of silence by selecting one of the eleven tracks. A bestseller!

A bestseller. Cripes. They not only sell these things, they sell a lot of them. I dunno if that should worry me, but it does. I mean, do they have copyright? Are they gonna get into a legal battle with John Cage's estate about the fair use of silence? Yes, I realize that only legal people ask questions like that, but it's worth mentioning all the same. And what about that singing bowl? Was it paid for its participation? Does it get royalties each time it's played on the radio? Did it consent to be used in this matter? Where's the disclosure form it signed? And don't give me that old tired story about a singing bowl not having any frick'n hands. That'll never fly in court.

In case a CD of silence isn't silly enough already, DharmaCrafts thoughtfully provides a track listing. Yes, you heard that right. Or rather, you didn't hear it. Here it is:

Lengths of Silence:
  • Track 1 — 70 minutes
  • Track 2 — 60 minutes
  • Track 3 — 50 minutes
  • Track 4 — 45 minutes
  • Track 5 — 40 minutes
  • Track 6 — 30 minutes
  • Track 7 — 25 minutes
  • Track 8 — 20 minutes
  • Track 9 — 15 minutes
  • Track 10 — 10 minutes
  • Track 11 — bowl strike
I mean, I'm really glad somebody's spelling this out for me because I'm just not sure I'm smart enough to get it for myself. I guess the good old days, where you just lit a stick of incense and stopped meditating when you couldn't smell it anymore (about 30 minutes) are just like gone the way of the Automat. I mean, can't you listen to a blank tape or something? Oh, wait, who knows what tapes are anymore? Hm, and blank CDs don't actually play, so -- starting to see the need for this. I must buy one immediately.

Lest you think for even a nanosecond that DharmaCrafts is alone in its purveying of spectacularly goofy merchandise, though, here's a Swarovski crystal pendant of Tweety Bird from the Danbury Mint. Uh, guys, Tweety's supposed to be yellow. I'm just sayin'.

By the way, has anybody else figured out that the "anti health care reform" people are spreading horror stories about "death panels" and "socialized medicine" not because they're against health care reform but because they want to bring down Obama, at whatever cost, whether it hurts other people or not? I'm just wondering.

1 comment:

Joan said...

I can provide independent verification re: the silent CD. I've seen it in the DharmaCrap catalog. You didn't mention if their website offered sample tracks from it. Maybe they're afraid of people pirating it and selling it from downtown kiosks along with knock-off Nag Champa incense and 100% polyester khatas.