Eric Idle is probably the most American of the Pythons — and I am definitely including Terry Gilliam. Idle is really clever, but very often without substance. He is definitely part of the “silly” faction of Monty Python. But as is often the case, his silliness is linked to great profundity. A good example of that is “Galaxy Song,” which manages to be both scientific and ontological. I would have used the song today if I hadn’t used it for a previous Morning Music.
For the sense of spirituality that I’m going for this week, the better choice is “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Life of Brian. The lines that most affect me are, “If life seems jolly rotten; there’s something you’ve forgotten…” This touches on a question I ask myself a lot, “If existence were just pain, would it still be worth existing?” At one time, I would have said emphatically: no! But now I’m not so sure. If you want to think of it in a highly metaphorical sense, “God’s love” is existence itself. And if you want to go further, his even greater love is that existence ends.
I don’t think the song is a call for optimism. It is rather fatalistic, “Life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it…” I’m pretty sure that all of us are in terrible pain all the time. If you are depressed, you feel every little pain in your body. If you aren’t depressed, all that pain is still there — it just doesn’t bother you. It is a question of perspective — not that I’m saying we have a choice, because ultimately it is all just chemical reactions. For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.