On the eve of one of the great events in the semi-brief yet storied history of The Big Lebowski, i decided to dust off the old Dudeist priest ordination and ruminate on the profound simplicity of Dudeism, the Dude, taking it easy and the whole durned human comedy. The catalyst in question would be the current Lebowski Fest New York, which includes the largest lead cast reunion to date, the Blu-Ray release of the film and Jeff Bridges’ new album debut.
It’s hard to fathom the cultural phenomenon that has surfaced and perpetuated around The Big Lebowski, with numerous books, fests, documentaries, (in)action figures, clothing lines, websites and even a religion all coming to light within the 13 years since it’s 1998 theatrical release. The fact that the movie didn’t even draw water until subsequent midnight screenings, followed by it’s appearance on video & DVD makes it even more stupefyin’. But perhaps it’s not as hard to believe as you’d first think.
Much of the Dude’s dialogue is composed of mantras for the deeply casual, or as it’s stated in the Coen brothers’ original script, the ‘rumpled look and relaxed manner suggest a man in whom casualness runs deep.’ Aphorisms such as ‘just take it easy, man’, ‘ah, fuck it’ and the paramount ‘the Dude abides’ all provide the necessary means for, necessary means for navigating the strikes and gutters of daily existence, allowing you to roll your way into the semis. These mantras take root in some of the world’s oldest philosophies and religions, including Taoism and The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzo, which shares the ethos of just taking it easy and going with the proverbial flow. It now has a Dudeist interpretation for our time and place called, appropriately, The Dude De Ching.
As stated in the Dudeist version of the Tao (simply, ‘the way’), ‘Dudeness that can be known is not Dude’, a take on the original text ‘The Tao that can be known is not Tao.’ To really tie it together, in Genesis of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the account of Sodom and Gomorrah gave rise to the lore of the lamed-vavniks, 36 righteous people in each generation that were necessary to sustain the world. They could often appear to be humble fools and were unaware of the fact they were counted among the righteous, according to The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers. In the parlance of our times, they weren’t privy to all the new shit. They just were.
This is where the Dude’s way of life acts as a conduit for all these ancient ways of being; taking it easy for all the sinners – abiding. When your way of thinking becomes too uptight and the man barges in and pees on your fucking rug, you’ve gotta buck up and not drag that negative energy into the tournament. Pour a White Russian, practice Tai Chi, take a bath, do a j, put on some tapes of the Creedence, whale sounds or the ’87 league playoffs, drive around, hit the In N Out Burger or enjoy the occasional acid flashback while saying fuck it, let’s go bowling.
Rev. Oliver Benjamin, the Dudely Lama of The Church of the Latter-Day Dude, sums up Dudeism as such – “The idea is this: Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.”
I take comfort in that, as do the many thousands of other Dudeist priests and Achievers down through the generations and further on down the trail. I also happen to know that there’s a little Abide Guide on the way. This Dude does indeed abide. Parts, anyway. Say friend, ya got any more’a that good sarsaparilla?