Momus on Olympus

A Passage from Luminous Airplanes, or Things As They Were: A Hyperromance

I’ve recently learned where the name Momus comes from, by the way. Momus was the Greek god of mockery and criticism, who was exiled from Mount Olympus for calling Zeus violent and lustful (he was right, though). He also mocked Hephaestus, the smith of the gods, for having made mankind without doors in their chests, through which their souls could be seen. And in this too he was right. If only we could see into one another’s hearts through some little openable door, locked, maybe, but unlockable, if only we could know what was going on in there, think of all the hurt we might not do. But then on the other hand maybe it would make no difference, or maybe it would even be worse. Maybe we’d hurt each other for the pleasure of watching those little fires flicker and dim and eventually go out.

Or maybe—this is what I’m thinking, as I remember how my Bleak story continues—the use of those doors would be, not to see into each other’s hearts, but to know our own.

© 2008-2023 Paul La Farge. All rights reserved.