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Harlan Reminds Us Of The Joke

In Harlan Ellison’s new book, in an afterword to the short story “Goodbye To All That,” he makes mention of a certain joke. I had to look it up, and so, I now share it here.

Come to think of it, I cannot remember the last time anybody told me a joke. More’s the pity. Thanks, Harlan.

There was a man who became obsessed with finding the meaning of life. He read many books, traveled the world, and sought out many teachers, but none of their explanations satisfied him. Finally, he heard of a very holy hermit who lived in a cave high in the Himalayas and was said by many to be the only man who truly understood the meaning of life. At once the man set out to find this holy teacher, and, after many adventures, he finally arrived at a cave high on a steep and forbidding mountain, where he saw an old man seated in the lotus position.

He asked the old man, “Honored sir, I’ve been told that you alone understand the meaning of life. Please be so kind as to share this secret with me.”

The old man answered, “Life . . . is a fountain.”

Perplexed, the man repeated, “Life is a fountain?”

And the old man answered, “You mean . . . life isn’t a fountain?”

photo Pip R. Lagenta

Published in Passing It Along


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