In memory of George Carlin (1937-2008), that Prometheus who stole comedy-fire from frowning heaven, and brought it to earth, relieving humans, if for only an hour, of their suffering, wherever God would not or could not. In one of his stand-up routines he once said:
When it comes to believing in God, I really, really tried, but, the more you look around, the more you realize something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. This is not good work. If this is the best that God can do, I’m not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the resume of a Supreme Being.
In Aeschylus’ ancient play, Prometheus Bound, I hear George Carlin’s voice. In the play, Prometheus says:
I knew what I was doing.
I helped myself to misery. . . .
Now it’s my turn for misery.
Sorrow wanders about the world
touching on each of us, and each in turn.
Carlin never gave me the impression of being an especially happy man. He seemed world-weary. But it appears that he took his private sorrow, and the hardness and injustices of life, and turned them, like Prometheus, into an eloquent, caustic, and powerful protest against the world of suffering and ignorance–and against the gods.