“So what do you do for a living?”

March 11, 2010 • 9:51 am

Related by Matthew Cobb:

In the Times Literary Supplement today (not on the website) there’s a review—by D. D. Guttenplan of The Nation—of Jonathan Wittenberg’s new book, The Silence of Dark Water. Wittenberg is a rabbi from the Masorti, and so is an arch-accommodationist from the other side. However, he has a good joke.  Wittenberg was at Loch Ness on holiday and was appalled by all the tourist trash: t shirts, pens etc.

Wittenberg tells the joke on himself: ” ‘So much stuff and no one’s even seen the creature!’ I complained. ‘So what do you do for a living?’ came the reply.”

8 thoughts on ““So what do you do for a living?”

  1. I’m dense. I had to read it twice to get it.

    …arch-accommodationist from the other side.

    An accommodationist from ‘our’ side is someone who says shut up to atheists trying to speak about religion. So what is an accommodationist from the other side? I thought all theists want atheists to shut up. Unless it means he wants theists to shut up about atheism.

    1. I was trying to condense my limited understanding of the Masorti movement, who seek to reconcile Judaism with science. I don’t suppose science wins! But apologies for any confusion. The Guttenplan review begins with a great Woody Allen joke – he was expelled from University for cheating in his metaphysics exam “I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me”.

  2. The shopkeeper should have told him “No, no, you are being far too literal, the Loch Ness Monster is merely a metaphor that limns our understanding and prompts exploration of our own depths. Only the most unsophisticated of tourists actually believes that the monster is “real” in some dry constricted empirical sense.”

    1. It is misleading to paint all Locknessists as if they were all Nessamentalists. An honest critique would engage the nessologies of today’s most sophisticated Nessologians as well. This the very thing the New Alocknessists refuse to do.

      1. We can build a rather robust Nessology by simply restricting ourselves to asking what the monster is not.

        Or, the cosmological argument for the Loch Ness Monster:

        Consider a point somewhere in the depths of the loch. There must be a point below that, and yet another point even deeper, so on ad infinitum. But we know the loch is not infinitely deep, so there must be an endpoint. There must be a First Depth, an Unundered Under, if you will.

        That Deepest Point is what we call Nessie.

    2. So are there LochNessMunsterists, who believe that the Monster can’t actually be described as existing or not existing, but is the Ground of all Lochs, Who (if you should say Who) doesn’t actually swim in the Loch, but permeates it transcendentally, not immanently, never actually disturbing its waters? We need have no argument with this Monster; it doesn’t, as Einstein famously remarked, play ducks and drakes on the Loch.

  3. Very subtle joke. It reminds me of a pro wrestling star who appeared before a congressional hearing.

    One suitably outraged Congressman demanded to know whether all pro wrestling matches weren’t simply elaborate ruses with the results predetermined well in advance.

    “You mean, like congressional hearings?” the wrestler replied.

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