The Asian American Literary Review just posted a long conversation between me & Timothy Liu. Here are some of its swerves:
TL: And your body at what age? Are you fourteen? Thirty-three? Sixty-five?
JH: Right. They decided you couldn’t carry your body because after a while heaven would be too full of shit. And so that was something that had to be negotiated.
TL: Do you know how the Mormons solved it? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I’m going to tell you. Your resurrected body is perfect, so it looks like your mortal body. But it’s different. First of all, it doesn’t have any blood flowing through it but what I’ll call resurrection fluid, whatever that is. A clear fluid, and you don’t shit because your body perfectly digests everything. There’s no waste. It’s completely used up, so you don’t have to worry about shit. Of course, I would say, if you’re omnipotent you should be able to shit if you wanted to. Because you’re all powerful. Otherwise you’re not all powerful. The resurrected body, is it composed of cells? Because if it is, the cells need to eat energy and shit. Every cell of our body shits. So how’s that? Are the cells also eating the energy perfectly and so there’s no piss? Obviously it’s a ridiculous question. The real answer is there’s no heaven. Or we could quote scripture and say, “God’s ways are not man’s ways.” They used to say in the Mormon church, “If you’re a little ant and you’re crawling on a globe, you can never experience the third dimension.” That’s why we can’t understand heaven. We’re on this earth like an ant on a globe and heaven is such a bigger idea, so these questions about our bodies—do we carry our shit up there—won’t finally matter. Your body will probably be a furnace. You could probably eat galaxies and stuff. [Laughs]
JH: Any attempts to rationalize it becomes a model for what do we value on earth. And so thinking out how heaven works and the economies of heaven and the need to have perfect economies and bodies which don’t produce waste is a way of thinking that we can achieve that somehow on earth. It’s something we should work toward: the perfectly efficient consumption of stuff. Which is impossible.
TL: Okay, I’m going to be indulgent now.
JH: Yes. I’m really interested in this question.
TL: First off, do you feel like if we met in third grade we would have been friends? Me and you? Tim and Joe?