As if it were now my own ritual, I appear yearly from outer space to observe, at a sacred site on planet earth, where the devotees of Nobel Laureates gather to celebrate their twin gods. This account is an extraterrestrial point of view, summarizing participant observation over the past years, of this recently birthed religion, on a little rock of 238 square miles, (in the Antillean archipelago, on this terrestrial ball), a place formerly known as Iyanola, “The Land of the Iguanas.”
Our celestial database reveals that since 1993, in the Common Era, according to the earthlings’ reckoning of time, a new cult has emerged upon this petite rock. In much the same way as other belief systems do, these inhabitants have created the Sacred in their own image and likeness. In this instance, their gods have emerged from amongst themselves. It is a theological conundrum; for it would appear that the deity is neither strictly monotheist nor polytheist or neither full god nor full man, but a “Human Twin-God.” Even for an alien mind, the relationship is multi-complex, for the gods seem to have grown intimately apart over time.
Their semi-identical twins or twin soul deity which is both visible and invisible was incarnated and manifested, under the same star and place on January 23, but on different calendar years. Thus, the weeklong celebration, popularly known as Nobel Laureate Week, takes place around that date, annually. The god-men or Nobel Laureates are represented by the natural symbols of the Twin Pitons.
The ritual begins in earnest, in the first month of their calendar year, a time when the faithful, in comfort pilgrimage from far and near, assemble at their most holy shrine, the “Nobel Intellectual Centre”, better known as NIC Conference Room, to commemorate the nativity and works of their biune god.
The celebrants are of a certain socioeconomic class and most have more degrees than thermometers. They are true Homo Sapiens because they know that they know. Yes, they are learned and conceivably the erudite gentry of that society. At that lofty occasion the gathering is visited, in person, by one of the twin gods, a true and visible manifestation of the divine. However, the other element of the dizygotic twin is forever conspicuous by his nonattendance. The eclipsed or truant god is frequently referred to as deceased or the late. The added epitaph ‘Deceased’ is likely because he is on a long rest in quest of immortality.
It seems as if one of the gods reveals himself while the other simultaneously conceals himself. Perhaps that’s part of the ineffable mystery or an existential dilemma? The concealed god seems to have been the first and original manifestation of the Nobel Laureate phenomenon, but he went away and is either tardy or in hiding. It seems that the human on earth is a mortal god, while the departed god is an immortal human.
The god who reveals himself sits in a self-imposed silence, true to the notion that ‘he who speaks does not know and he who knows does not speak’. More so, since silence is said to be the first language of god, the session is marked by the presence of his silence and by the silence of his presence throughout the celebration. Perhaps, in silence, the gods become more eloquent or it’s celestial language (is it?). To his cohorts, his presence is the ultimate present.
This celebration of excellence, as it is dubbed, begins with the entrance of a priestess or domestic goddess and her entourage. She is referred to as the GG or Dame, who is also a representative of an absentee sovereign (HRH). On her arrival, all and sundry stand including the Nobel Twin God who, perhaps, is bound or imprisoned by that Law of Reverence—even the gods must obey the Law of the Land. Then, a National Anthem is sung, by most, without body movement and with much veneration. After that, the Goddess or High Priestess takes her reserved seat before everyone else, who could do the same. One is not sure where to place Her in the order of the hierarchy, for sometimes she seems a tad below or above the gods, but certainly not equal. Consistent with every belief system, the union and nature of the gods are always lost in mystery.
Regardless of her rank, only after the Goddess occupies her throne can the celebration begin in earnest. Those presiding at the altar are reputable orators and gifted with great articulacy and platitude, their deliveries including a good deal of name dropping, tributes and gloating, as if the Gods are impressed by much speaking and can be bought with eloquence. It is noteworthy that amongst those present, a selected few, the chosen, were called by special invitation from the accessible god Himself to a Stockholm Banquet, a sort of ‘epiphany’. Since then, many have come, seeking social cachet by clinging unto the sacred garment of the God of Rhymes.
The most sacred part or high point of the ceremony is the monologue or keynote address, delivered by a designated devotee or prophet, on the works or epistles of the Noble Twins, credibly the sacred texts for these celebrants. The person of the moment deliberates on several topics such as, the Language of the Tribe, Industrialization by Invitation, the Theory of Economic Growth and so on, as if he/she were divinely inspired to read into the minds and works of the Gods and thereby interpret them. Amongst the great writings of the Gods, ‘Omeros’ and the ‘Agony of the Eight’ seem to be the Holy Grail of the god-intoxicated faithful. During that sacred period, the faithful are spellbound and transfixed as if it was a divine interlude. Noteworthy, as I alluded to above, the present God is stone silent throughout the monologue and also during the dialogue which ensues.
As if on exhibition, he maintains His transiency and distinguishes Himself from His devotees. But who could truly know the mind of God?
The oration and the discourse which follows seem very democratic, as anyone may interject by a show of hands and is acknowledged by a designated facilitator. But when all is said and done, more is said than done. It seems to this observer that the soul of this faith is contained mainly in the discussion. Furthermore, occasionally, one of the lectures is referred to as Memorial. One is not sure whether the celebrants are attempting to live out of what once was—history and memory—or out of their imagination and potential, what can be.
Most devotees draw close, ready to be informed but seem reluctant to perform. Unlike the religion of John Bunyan, who advocates for a pilgrim to progress, the soul of one’s religion must be the practical part. This new inactive intellectual creed seems more devoted to intellectual masturbatory activities rather than conative missions, perhaps to cushion the impact of living in the 21 century?
Nonetheless, they seem to be basking in the ecstasy of their release/intercourse, in spite of its futility. Conceivably, another earthling, William Butler Yeats may be up to something when he contends, “The best lack all possible conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
Oh, that the devotees would heed the teachings and honor the presence of their God of Letters, who wrote in one of his epistles or sacred texts:But once we lose the tribal duty of help, the Koudmen, we lose spirit, then a country . . . As we have lost the flight of pelicans. More than ecological disaster can happen to human nature it can lose ritual and custom. When charity declines into nostalgia we are all reduced. (The Flight of the pelicans, Derek Walcott, 1993)Or the words of the none-present God of Economics, who consistently contended that:If there was a choice between foreign investment and domestic capital, the latter should be preferred. In the absence of domestic capital, foreign investment should, given its scarcity and competing claims for its use, be encouraged and offered incentives provided that the net results are favorable to the domestic economy and contribute to the development of entrepreneurial, management and administrative skills, the relative lack of which has hitherto served as a constraint on development in the Caribbean.
Perhaps by heeding the voice of the Nobel Twin-Gods Iyanola, tenants can reverse the latest trend—more so, in the last decade and last calendar year—of these senseless, insensitive slaughters of their own fellowmen, by helping to reduce poverty, unemployment, glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, food shortage, and over-exploitation in the Land of the Iguanas. It seems as though some inhabitants are too self-absorbed and therefore unconscious that they too are vulnerable to those numb and dumb humans who have caused the iguanas to become an endangered species in the Land of the Iguanas. Furthermore, in the writings of their sacred text, ‘Ti Jean and His Brothers’, it is clearly observable that it was a commonsense, reasonable, and balanced Ti-Jean who outsmarted the Devil rather than the two extremes, the just muscular Gros-Jean and the only book smart Mi-Jean. That seems very insightful as no human has been recorded living off a diet of books.
At the climax of the protracted god-centered intercourse, they reverse the ritual by allowing the goddess to depart first, followed by the sacred procession, only to re-converge with less reverence, perhaps to fellowship and to get their reward from the active God of Letters. This is administered by the God himself who autographs his own works, but not without a fixed, sizable offering. Perhaps, it’s the time for giving to god what belongs to god. During this fellowship and money changing exercise, the earthlings partake in a specially prepared parting supper.
As a participant observer of this sacred ritual over the past years, against or in spite of the counsel of my esteemed extraterrestrial councilors, who warned against “becoming native”, I have been so seduced by the bliss of this infertile or semi-futile spiritual exercise that I am now hooked.
The truth is, I am becoming one of them.