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S. K. and J. Lo


By David Butler


The Montréal Review, August 2011





Soren Kierkegaard had a mad, crush on Jennifer Lopez. He loved everything about her: the sensuous, slightly parted lips; the halo sheen of her hair; the nail polish artistry, her restrained perkiness, with the hint of galvanic passion beneath the surface. But the J. Lo feature that had the power to drive the Dane beyond the bounds of reason - was that splendorous, magnificent, holy of holies: her tush. For Kierkegaard, the culo of J. Lo was a glimpse into the embodied perfection of the infinite. The existentialist in him did worry that his derriere worship might be a cruel illusion, a disguised version of the false god of Idealism, which he abhorred in all of its many sly manifestations. But when he imagined resting his weary head on that perfectly formed orb, as soft as the finest down pillow, the existence of the ideal realm became too palpable, too present to be mistaken for a Cartesian ghost or Hegelian abstraction.

But what hope did he have to get with J Lo? They were so different. He, the tormented and despised Danish theologian haunted by a patriarchal, irrational and indifferent God. She, the New Yorican graduate of a relatively progressive Catholic school system that had abandoned excessive corporeal punishment and preached a gospel of love and forgiveness. He, who was still a virgin after two hundred years. She, who had gotten around some. The Dane was a teetotaler, who enjoyed herring and onions. J. Lo loved Bacardi and coke, rice and beans and platanos. W hat did Kierkegaard have to offer her: signed copies of his greatest hits, Fear and Trembling and Sickness unto Death; heartfelt renditions of Danish love songs, sung in his frail tenor? Who was he kidding, her husband, Marc Anthony, was a great romantic crooner of sultry boleros and seductive balladas; material he could never pull off convincingly in Danish.

The philosopher was heartsick but what could he do? His friends and colleagues were all white, decrepit Europeans. They couldn't help him; he really needed advice from someone with street creds. Miguel de Unamuno, the Spanish philosopher, was the best choice he had. He was Hispanic and a Catholic, or had he been excommunicated? True, he was white, but at least he was swarthy. Unamuno had peaked in Philosophy circles about 1910, and was never a big player in the New York, or the LA Hip Hop scene, but he was rumored to carry a knife and he looked very suave in a Guyabera. Miguel agreed to help.

"SK, mi amigo, this won't be easy", Unamuno told him. "You are not exactly a Ben Afflick type. In fact, you are mad ugly bro, and that red hair that stands up like a rooster's comb, won't remind her of no P Ditty, either. Your best bet is to try the Cyrano routine, woo her with your words. You have a deep rap homes. Work your magic and the girl will be begging you for it."

Kierkegaard liked the plan and he sent J. Lo a verse E Mail.

To: J Lo
From: The Danish Quixote
Subject: Poem in Praise of Your Bounty

As I stare into the chasm of nothingness;
Poised to leap into the abyss;
Only the plenitude of your A Posteriori,
Restores my faith in Being.

A few weeks later, he received a response from her Website.

To: Danish Quixote
From: The Jennifer Lopez Official Website
Subject: Your Recent E Mail

Hi Danish,

OMG, great to hear from you J. Lo loves poetry. Hope you like our web site. Did you see the great sale we are having on T- shirts, including our photo shape junior tees with front and rear views of J Lo? And don't forget to sign up for our mailing list for SPECIAL OFFERS and a chance to win a free tour of J. Los favorite Bronx Bodegas.


The Website Friends of Jennifer Lopez

This was not the letter he was hoping for and it plunged him into a state of deep despair. Was he condemned to never touch or gaze on the sumptuous culo of his beloved? He would rather face the chasm of Nothingness; leap into the abyss. Never! He was the Knight of Faith suicide was not an option. He chose treatment instead. The medication and ten sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy made a big difference. Therapy gave him some practical angst- coping strategies, and the Prozac improved his mood considerably. He could see now that his obsession with J Lo and her culo was a symptom of his depression caused by a poor self-image. He needed to work on his self-esteem, and what better way than through finding some meaningful, productive work. A job, a new career, something to do that could restore his sense of accomplishment. But what opportunities were there in this labor market for a two hundred year old Danish philosopher?

He thought he had a pretty good sense of humor for a Phenomenologist. His books had lots of jokes but he was never sure if anyone understood them. The students never laughed during his lectures, but then again, no one laughed much in Copenhagen in those days. What did he have to lose? He would become a stand-up comic.

It was tough. Like everyone else, he started with the showcases, and he usually bombed. The Danish farmer's daughter jokes, featuring Kant and Schopenhauer as the traveling salesmen rarely went over, plus his delivery was torturously stiff. His odd looks and the accent were good for an occasional snicker but he finally caught a real break with this routine he wrote about the sacrifice of Isaac. A senile Abraham brings a fork instead of a knife for the sacrifice. Isaac's ram replacement doesn't show up for the slaughter and Yaweh has to settle for the boneless chicken breasts Sara had packed for what she thought was a father-son camping trip. Abraham, not the handiest guy around, can't figure out how to bind Isaac. It was corny stuff, but good enough to get him an agent, and a few paid gigs in Portland. The agent found him more steady work on the Jewish nursing home circuit, and he developed a small following on philosophy-themed cruises. But, the weeks on the road-mostly one night gigs- were getting to him. Stand-up was not a viable career choice for a man of his age.

His therapist suggested that he take up writing again but counseled him to stay away from the nihilistic, heavy-duty philosophy and try something lighter with a more positive tone. In less than a month, he finished his first self-help guide: Healthier Living with Ontological Dread. The book was a success and he quickly followed up with his best seller, Making Nothingness Your Best Friend. But no one could have anticipated the extraordinary impact of, From Fear and Trembling to Sexual Fulfillment and Successful Money Management. It was a blockbuster, mega-hit and it made Kierkegaard a celebrity.

When he heard that J. Lo would be joining American Idol as a judge, he hadn't thought about her in a long time, not since the early stand-up days, when the love sickness was still lurking. But all that craziness was gone now. Embarrassed by the memory of his excessive e-mail, which he assume she never read or certainly would not remember, he decided to send her a cordial, professional letter to introduce himself and congratulate her about the show. And just in case she had read and remembered his e-mail, she would see that he had gotten over her rejection, and was doing pretty well for a washed-up, decrepit philosopher, even without her web site tee shirts or the Bodega tour.

Two days later he got her hand-written reply on lavender scented stationary.

Dear Mr. Kierkegaard, or is it still Danish,

Que paso? When was it, a year ago, longer? You write me a sizzling hot love poem, clearly hoping to hook up, and after just one rejection, you wimp out? Pendejo! Some Danish Quixote, what happened to the Impossible Dream, the Eternal Quest? Then, you become this famous, book celebrity, and send me a lame, business note. Don't try to play me. You think I'm stupid or something? I know what A Posteriori means and if you ever hope to get to see mine stop with the games.

So professor, if you have the cojones for it, come over to my place, tomorrow. You must have heard Marc and I are getting divorced and he is out of the house, plus the kids are with la abuela. We will have lots of time to get to know each other, inch by inch. But I expect you to be ready to with some of that deep philosophical rap you used to have. Don't even try to get by with the chump, Mickey Mouse, self-help stuff you are peddling now.

Mr. Knight of Faith, I don't want to be crude, but to cut to the chase homey, Either/Or, shit or get off the pot!


Jennifer Lopez


Dear Ms. Lopez,

I am writing on behalf of my dear friend and colleague, Soren Kierkegaard. I regret to have to inform you that after reading your letter, he became so overwhelmed by joy and excitement he had a massive stroke and died almost immediately.

I know how shocked and saddened you must be to receive this tragic news. But please, do not blame yourself in any way for his demise. The man was almost two hundred years old, these things happen. I only know that your letter made his last moments very happy ones.

Jen, we have both suffered a great loss; perhaps we can be of some small comfort to each other. While I am not nearly as gifted a philosopher as the esteemed Kierkegaard, I too have confronted the dread, the despair and the meaninglessness of the universe in my humble prose. And like him, I have also longed to worship at the shrine of your posterior plenitude.

But unlike the dear, departed SK, J. Lo, I am street, Latino, and know how to get down and party! So, mi negrita, I am here for you, whenever.

And girl, you go be a killa on Idol!

Warm regards and sympathy,

Miguel de Unamuno


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