Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Melt, Snail, Melt! A Psalm Curse

Recently, I’ve been writing about the cursing psalms. Then I read this quote on the portal page of MYTH*ING LINKS:
Almost all of us are gasping for more time. We are starving. And all of the devices and techniques that our inventive culture offers only increase the yearning for time - like the food of Hell that makes the eater hungrier. Our cell phones, computers, fax machines, and the countless other inventions that "save time" only starve us more and more... We are paying for these things with our time, with our lives, which is our time. - Jacob Needleman, in Time and the Soul, page 63
This reminded me of the famous curse line from psalm 58: “As a snail melts, let them pass away.”

The line is famous for being more than a little peculiar, if not completely senseless. But it made sense to the psalm writer. Supposedly, Mesopotamian people of that time believed that snails create slime trails by liquefying a bit of their own bodies. In order to move along, a snail had to melt itself. It used itself up until there was nothing left (which nicely explained why gardens are littered with empty snail shells.) So the curse is: may your actions be self-consuming, eating you up until you vanish.

Not bad, eh?

But as spiritual teachers have been pointing out literally for ages, this is exactly what human obsessions entail.

Common snailIn modern America we cry out for time, and become addicted to technology that destroys time under the guise of giving it to us. Once we could peacefully wait an hour or a day to phone again if a person we called did not answer. Now we are impatient, even insulted, if we must wait a few seconds or our messages are not immediately returned. An hour, a full day, has been compressed, lost, become seconds.

Those biblical curse-writers! They sure knew their human foibles.

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