"Midrash" by John Child (November 2015)

This puzzle started when I was browsing a web site called something like "Jokes only smart people will understand" [GB adds: like this one, perhaps?] The unanswerable nature of the question in this quip made me think of a Zen koan, and because I am a crossword addict, I tried to split it out. It worked, but only with the question mark. I decided that was OK, since quip puzzles are "out" these days, and it would never make any mainstream outlet anyway.

The puzzle's title, "Mu," is a Zen word that I learned from reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance many years ago. It means, in Pirsig's explanation, "no thing," and is used when a question can't really be answered. It's also a symbol for refusal to see things in black and white. Moving the mind beyond yes/no or good/bad is important in Zen because it helps the practitioner see "real" reality.

BTW, the graphic on the puzzzle's main page has the following caption: "Apparently while trying to hear the sound of one hand clapping ..." For another take on "What's Mu?," click here.

I had fun doing this, and I hope you did too!

GB adds: We outsmarted ourselves with this clue for RAOUL: "Cuba's Castro." Were you thinking FIDEL? Bzzzz, wrong. Only problem, Fidel's brother spells his name Raśl. Not to worry, it's fixed easily enough ... John opted for a reference to Hunter S. Thompson [and could have thrown in Doonesbury for good measure]. However, the answer word is very meaningful to me, because of Of Blessed Memory ... try it, please, and be prepared to be moved.

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