"To wake up and discover you are still a child and have what the child wanted, dream and reality together."

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Reading Minds

Image result for mind reading image

- I'd like to ask you something I think about more than probably is good for me. Do you think people can sometimes read each other's minds?
- My so-called wife and I used to do it regularly.
- And do you think it was inspired guessing, or some direct communication?
- My thought touching hers, her thought touching mine.
- Yes. Whatever those words mean.
- There's actually a way to look at it that is somewhere between the two alternatives.
- And that is?
- The theory Niels Bohr came up with to explain how using one experimental apparatus guiding photons we see waves, using another experimental apparatus we see particles. He said that we with our experimental apparatus were co-creators with nature of the object we saw: the wave, or the particle. Both were equally real.
- So you think that you and your wife had been living closely together in the same world that was drawn upon to compose your separate perceptions, and that was why, with your much different characters, you could know each other's thoughts?
- A bit of communing, a bit of guessing. It's a theory. Rather a dangerous one.
- Why?
- Because people don't have faith; faith being reason's determination of the limits of reason, that there is another world out there. If science shows us that sometimes we see waves, sometimes we see particles when we look at the progress of photons, maybe we are right to think our social roles or physical differences lock us into operating different and inconsistent apparatuses.
- We can't help seeing the world differently.
- Yes. And if we don't "have faith" in that other world behind the fact we observe of different worlds being seen by different apparatuses, the best we can do is tolerate each other with mutual incomprehension.
- Then you are arguing that you did, in fact, communicate with your wife on a level prior to thought?
- Alright, yes. But that level was something ordinary, was our shared everyday life.

Further Reading:
It's All Good

Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Wonderful Family!

Image result for family icon

My family? You really want to know? Ok, I'll tell you, but this is absolutely my least favorite subject.

First, I don't think you'll be able to understand without being Jewish. Or you will, you'll understand if you understand the Bible's first books and the monstrous out of nowhere violence and deceptions they are filled with.

You ask if it's about money, this war I have with my family. Money moving from them to me. No.

My brothers never gave me one dollar. Nor did I ever give them any money.

Do I really have to go into details? People pay too much attention to money. My problem you'll say is that I don't. Fine. I'll do it. For you. My mother, for a short period, long long ago, decades, did give me money to pay for a place to live when her new husband didn't want me around. But that money came out of an investment fund, run by a friend of the family, and all the money in that fund was eventually lost due to the cheating of said family friend. (He vanished from L.A., only to reappear as a professor of business at Harvard where knowledge how to steal and get away with it is highly valued.) My mother lost 100,000 dollars. And made a point of telling me that the small amount of money she gave me (to pay for the cheapest one room apartment in the neighborhood) at the time would have been lost anyway. I didn't deplete family assets by so much as a cent.

The problem is different. Much of it is as you suggest, resentment.

But that's not it really, not the cause of the total disaster of my family. The attack began with my brothers taking charge of my father's estate when he died, not even bothering to tell me he died (I was in Europe), then by their putting my mother's property in their names (excluding mine) before she died.

All this, they explained to me in writing when I asked, was because I was in Europe and not there. Since I was not there they were entitled to use their position for themselves. They didn't consider me a member of the family (the words of my younger brother). The older said it was right to take the family property because of that small amount of money (maybe 5,000-10,000 dollars) my mother used to get me out of sight when she remarried. I told this older brother what my mother said about that money as lost in any case; he didn't respond.

When my mother died, she left me in her will no property, but 10,000 dollars. This my younger brother as executor of the will refused to pay. He claimed there was no money, or maybe a few thousand, and if I caused trouble he'd pay the entire estate as fees to his corporate lawyer to fight me. I wouldn't go along, and he claimed he did pay the entire estate to his lawyer to fight me.

Did I mention that the year before my mother died, I was visiting her when she got sick, went to the hospital, then got really sick. When she got out of the hospital she asked me if I wanted to stay longer and cook for her and do errands: she was going to hire a nurse, and I would save her money if I wanted to do it. I said yes.

Do you really want to hear this? (Reading optional from this point.)

I became a good cook, as I told you, cooking elaborate 3 course meals out of cookbooks, salads with 10 vegetables and dressings with 15 ingredients, etc. My mother got better. But all was not well. My brother who lived in the same New Jersey resort town didn't like me being there. One day, my mother asked which of her possessions I wanted when she died. I answered I didn't want anything. Except maybe my piano, which was at my brother's house at that time. This piano I played when I was a kid. My mother had told me hundreds of times it was meant to remain mine. Except not any more! She explained she had given it to my brother, in addition to the beach side luxury condominium she lived in. I said the piano was not hers to give away. She called my brother. My brother said, call the police. She did. I left before they arrived. I was lucky, in having met the previous week at Starbucks (of course) a woman who'd just thrown out her drug addict husband. She took me in. But two days later, when I was at the public library looking for a ticket back to Europe, someone taps me on the shoulder. Guess who? The police. Come outside with us, Mr Miller, we have something we want to talk to you about. / What's that?

We'll tell you outside.

Outside, they told me I'd been accused of maybe wanting to destroy the world. They said they'd talked to my brother, who'd told them I was mysterious, even he couldn't say anything certain about me. I wandered around Europe and didn't do anything. Apparently the day before, when I'd returned to my mother's place to get my bicycle the manager got angry when I went out the front door with it - construction had blocked the side door - and called the police saying the building believed I was dangerous and didn't know what I would do. (This manager was a friend of my brother whose business, in a few months, was to be found moved into the building's ground floor.) 

Now, in spite of all this (which didn't end there) when I was back in New Jersey the next year, visiting the woman who'd invited me in after she'd thrown out her husband, I tried to see my brother to talk things over. He refused, absolutely.

I called my older brother, a doctor in Maine, - my younger brother is an architect - and talked to his secretary. I was going by train to Los Angeles on a 5 day ticket. I could go up to Maine to see him on the same ticket and then go on to L.A. I went to Maine. When I got there he wouldn't see me. The next morning, after hanging around a restaurant most of the night, I got back on the train.

In LA I told the story to more than a few people. Many offered to call my younger brother, the executor of the estate. Two did, and both were told he "wasn't interested in me any more". Two lawyers also called. Also 2 rabbis. My brother told the second rabbi that he was tired of me. The rabbi was shocked. This, he asked, was his brother he was talking about? Full brother? Raised by the same mother and father in the same house? Yes.

So, what is it all about?

They resent me, the way I live, yes, but that's not it. I didn't do anything to them or cost them anything. And both brothers are rich.

I take them at their words. They say they are not interested, and they aren't. Money is to be had. They took the money.

Brother Todd:
QMA Design + Build
Brother Garth:
Lincoln Medical Partners

Friday, July 17, 2015

Chronometricals & Horologicals

Image result for ships chronometer

- Novels of ideas: the ideas are reaching, but never get there. They aren't good enough.
- Are they better in philosophy?
- No. But philosophy is at least so clearly off. Inapplicable. Useless.
- Literature has only bad ideas, philosophy is useless.
- Do you know why I like talking with you?
- I have good ideas?
- Your ideas are funny.
- Laughable funny, or funny strange?
- Laughable funny. But strange too sometimes.
- And laughable is good? Ideas that get somewhere, even if it is only a laugh?
- No, not if it is only a laugh. I've been doing some reading...
- Let me guess: novels of ideas?
- Right. "Pierre", by Melville. And Musil's "The Man Without Qualities".
- Which theme are you following: brother-sister love, or is it nihilism?
- Alright, yes. The connection between the books is widely known.  
- Do you think that the ideas of Melville and Musil are bad?
- I do. But bad can be good. 
- When bad teaches.
- Yes. Teaches how to recognize bad.
- And what mistakes have you learned from these novels?
- You and for all I know the whole world anticipate me in seeing the nihilism and incest. But I've found something else.
- And that is?
- Remember the philosophic pamphlet that Pierre finds left behind in a hired coach, "Chronometricals And Horologicals"? God and society have different times. God's timekeeping is Chronometric, its timekeeper is set to Greenwich time no matter where in the world it is taken. Society's timekeeper is the Horological, set to local time, with different times corresponding to the different longitudes. Trying tell time in society by god's time brings you to ruin. Better to compromise. This is an absolutely commonplace idea, though the timekeeper analogy is amusing. My idea is that the novel goes much beyond this statement of compromise, and presents all possible combinations of compromise or its lack dealing with god and society. First of the combinations is compromise both god and society, each adulterating the purity of the other. Don't give everything away, but do a little charity, and be sure you don't harm. A commonplace, as I said. Saying Yes to both god and world. Second, you can also say No to both. Be unconventional and defiant of society, take a stand as an accuser of god. Be a nihilist and existentialist. And third is one more possibility: or do you already know this too?
- Let's see.
- Incest, brother-sister love. We're not talking about sexual acts, though physical attraction is involved.  Love is in the service of god, and here is love. Added to which is society and the world, the special brother-sister kind of society that is outside the world. To have a brother is proverbially to be born with a friend, is to be born into a natural society. A society whole and irrefutable.
- Saying Yes to god and society works out very bad if you don't compromise. And if you do compromise it is not much to get exited about. But if the society in which you love is the natural society of brother-sister, there no need for compromise.
- So you're ahead of me there too.  Pierre seems crazy because he practices at different times all the combinations of compromise or not of god and society. He is a doomed idealist and he is a nihilist and existentialist. He compromises the truth for the sake of social convention and he practices an uncompromised love of his sister. Well? Is that a good idea or not?
- I like it. But what do you plan on doing with this combinatoric analysis given that you've decided that philosophy and novels have only bad ideas? Do you hope I use it?
- Use it and be funny. Musil is funny but in the wrong way. He takes an ironic attitude to his ideas. He works them out precisely but knows they are limited. In his big novel he writes:
He is a man without qualities...There are millions of them nowadays...What he thinks of anything will always depend on some possible context -- nothing is, to him, what it is; everything is subject to change, in flux, part of a whole, of an infinite number of wholes presumably adding up to a super-whole that, however, he knows nothing about. So every answer he gives is only a partial answer, every feeling only an opinion, and he never cares what something is, only 'how' it is...

For Musil, that is the human being in society. For what we are in god, what is our "soul", another passage from the novel; much longer, but worth it:

This is a word that has already appeared frequently, though not precisely in the clearest of connections. For instance, as that which the present time has lost or that which cannot be combined with civilization. As that which is stirred, not only into repugnance, by a murderer...As a love of metaphor and simile with many people. And so on. 
Of all the peculiarities that this word “soul” has, however, the oddest is that young people cannot pronounce it without laughing. Even Diotima and Arnheim were shy of using it without qualification; for that someone has a great, noble, cowardly, daring or base soul is something that can just about be asserted, but to say outright “my soul” is something that one cannot bring oneself to do. It is distinctly a word for older people; and this can only be understood by assuming that there is something that makes itself more and more felt in the course of life, something for which one urgently needs a name, without finding it, until in the end one reluctantly makes use of that which was originally spurned. 
And how then is one to describe it? One can stand still or move on as one will, the essential is not what lies straight before one, what one sees, hears, wants, takes hold of, and masters. It lies ahead, a horizon, a semicircle; but the ends of this semicircle are joined by a sinew, and the plane of this sinew goes right through the middle of the world. In front, face and hands look out of it; the sensations and striving run along ahead of it; and no one doubts that what we do there is always reasonable or at least impassioned. That is, circumstances external to us demand our actions of us in a way that is comprehensible to everyone; or if, involved in passion, we do something incomprehensible, that, after all, is still something with a way and a nature of its own. But however completely understandable and self-contained it all seems, it is accompanied by an obscure feeling that it is merely half the story. There is something the matter with the equilibrium, and man advances in order not to sway, like a tightrope walker. And as he advance through life, leaving behind him what he ha lived through, a wall is formed by what is still to be lived and what has been lived, and in the end his path resembles that of a worm in the wood, which can twist any way it likes, even turning backwards, but always leaves an empty space behind it. And this dreadful feeling of a blind space, a space cut off behind all the fullness, this half that is always still lacking even although everything has become a whole, is what finally causes one to notice what one calls the soul. 
One thinks it, feels it, has premonitions of it all the time, naturally, in the most various kinds of surrogates and according to one’s temperament. In youth it is a distinct feeling of uncertainty, in everything one does, as to whether whatever it is is really the right thing. In old age it is amazement at how little one has done of all that one actually intended. In between it is the comfort of being a hell of a chap, efficient, and a good sort too, even though not everything one does can be justified in every detail; or that after all the world isn’t what it ought to be, either, so that in the end all that one has done wrong still amounts to a fair enough compromise; and finally some people even think, away out beyond everything, of a God who has the missing piece of themselves in His pocket. Only love occupies a special position in all this; for it is in this exceptional case that the second half grows on. The loved person seems to stand where otherwise there is always something missing. The souls unite, as it were, dos a dos, so making themselves superfluous. This why after the passing of their one great youthful love most people no longer feel the absence of the soul, so that this so-called foolishness fulfills a meritorious social function.

- He can't resist making a joke of the soul.
- Yes. But the wrong kind of joke, ironic, defensive. Musil said the problem wasn't that we were too reasonable and neglected the soul, but that we were not accurate enough in our examination of the soul. You've just read an accurate examination, no doubt. But what good is it? It is still partial. It makes a joke of the soul. It should be the other way around, the soul should make a joke of the world.
- Can it?
- Think of brother-sister love. Love is of god. If love is to be also in the world, not mere contemplation or religious experience, it has to be active. Something has to happen. The things brother and sister do can be physical, but better, they can be telling stories of what happened out in the world, told to and for each other once back in the private world of brother-sister love.
- And those stories are funny. Not ironic defensive funny, but relieved to be away from the world funny and back in your own private brother-sister society.
- Yes. What do you think?
- I'm not sure funny stories can support a novel of ideas or philosophic masterpiece. Are you going to try?
- I was going to suggest you did.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Same Eyes

Same Eyes

- Terrible, terrible. Last night I was at the conference on police killing of unarmed blacks, one per day this past year. Present were faculty from Black studies, Economics, Sociology, History, Asian Studies. The moderator praised the faculty participants for about 15 minutes, then got down to the business of complaining. Dark skinned people were being shot by the police, a million of them were in prisons, Los Angeles had the largest prison population of any city in the world and was planning on building more prisons. I looked on in contempt.
- Why were you there if you hate them so much?
- To learn from their mistakes.
- And what were they doing wrong aside from complimenting each other?
- What they were doing wrong was not distinguish themselves from the groups doing the killing and imprisoning of them. They were the losing group in a battle with the winning.
- What do you expect them to do?
- What they can't do. As long as they give their lectures, write their books, the corporate sponsors of the University will continue to deliver their pay and even pay them more if they make a name for themselves. They will get paid no matter what they say as long as they don't challenge a fundament assumption.
- Which is?
- That the relation of human beings to things is sacrosanct, more important than human beings to each other. As long as human relation to property is more important that human relation to humans, human beings will see each other as property, see each other as kinds of things and kill and imprison the kind of human things they have no better use for.
- Racial politics results from property being considered important than everything else?
- So I believe. When people have something real in common they not only are not classifiable by group, they are invisible to each other. I'll tell you what I mean with a story. In the early days when my wife Beatrix and I were together, she said to me, "I don't know whether I should tell you this, but when I look at you I see myself." I thought I understood what she meant: not that she was vain and the whole world was a reference to herself. No. She liked to challenge me with the demand, Tell me why you are with me? What do you want? What are you getting out of this affair? My answer was always the same: I felt at home with her, she was my equal.
- Equal in what?
- In spirit. In being willing to take on whatever the world threw at her, at being willing to take on me and my life without social standing, at least sometimes, when she wasn't running away or throwing me out. I didn't realize until last week, three years from last sight of her, what really led her to making her remark.
- Which was?
- I'd gone to the internet to watch a video Beatrix had made when she was in acting school. Suddenly it hit me: her eyes were like mine.
- So she literally saw herself when she looked at you.
- Yes. And it must have worked the same for me though I wasn't aware of it. I was only aware that she was my equal. She was with me in life. No matter how much we fought she knew I would return and I knew she would too.
- What is the application to police killing and jailing of blacks?
- There is no use complaining about gangs acting like gangs. To the extent a society is a society there has to be something in common, some real equality.
- We have to be able to see equality in each other's eyes.
- Yes. Otherwise we will identify each other in our differing relation to property. I've told you, right, I'm finished with the Internet.
- Finished with posting links, not obsessing over your wife.
- Every day I sent out titles and links to at least a 100 different stories to 10,000 social media connections. A million messages a day for three and a half years. That makes one billion messages I've caused to appear on computer screens. A half million visits to my site resulted. That's enough. I quit.
- About time since you got nothing out of it, no money, no fame. Why did you do it?
- I couldn't ask people to pay money earned by slavery to read stories telling them not to be slaves. I didn't want to establish a relation of property with them. And I didn't mind being invisible.
- You wanted them to see in your eyes their own.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Slavery On A Walk In Beverly Hills

Labor, the subjective essence of private property as exclusion of property, and capital, objective labor as exclusion of labor, constitute private property as its developed state of contradiction.*

- Karl Marx, right?
- Right. I'm not one much for him ordinarily. But the association of private property with slavery is about as fundamental and revolutionary** an idea as you can get. But maybe you don't like his language, his resolution of the problem in communism?
- I don't.
- What if it is correct that private property results in a state of slavery for those without property?
- Is that what you think?
- I think that property, when made the foundation of human relations, leads to a constant threat of being enslaved. Life and freedom are dependent on having property. If you continue to exist without property, it can only be as a slave, dependent for life and freedom on the will of those who allow you to be on their land, eat their food, or use their tools. And the ever-present potential loss of life or liberty creates the sense that slavery, in those lucky enough to escape it, is part of the human condition.
- Then we'll just have to live with the threat of being enslaved, because private property, the need to be in control of things that are around us, is human nature.
- Could be it is. Still, we don't have to make private property the foundation of our societies. When we do, we are sure, if we avoid outright slavery, to be stuck with hierarchy, each level giving up some freedom to the direction of the higher level.
- Private property creates hierarchy?
- Private property when made the foundation of society. It can be present without being made the foundation of society.
- How?
- By putting cooperation before private property. Cooperation sees other people are a resource to be protected, their lives and their ability to do things freely benefiting everyone, with everything accomplished providing more material to work with.***
- What if people are not willing to share what they produce?
- But why wouldn't they? A creative person wants to get rid of what's been finished and move on to the next project.
- You're assuming we don't need to use everything we make.
- Assuming, yes, we are not on the verge of death. Our current worship of money and property, our "Neo-Liberalism", is the product of, is an attempt to make sense of being at real risk of death and slavery when without money and property.
- And what about private property in cooperative society?
- It enters into society as a means of cooperation, when it turns out people cooperate better with their own house and own tools and within their own family.**** Anthropologists are discovering that both hierarchical societies and cooperative societies can be found at all times, often in contact with each other. Neither is the destined outcome of history. Hierarchy and cooperation appear to be divergent paths, depending on whether property is primary or secondary to their foundation.*****

Further reading: The Game Against The Game
* Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844


- What about Aristotle?
- What about him?
- He wrote that some human beings were born slaves, and some made slaves.
- Once slavery has been instituted, some 'by nature', those not disposed to violence, are going to be made slaves.
- Those with better nature. But that's not what he meant. Aristotle wrote that natural slaves are better off being slaves.
- Sure, in a slave society.
- Is there any other kind?
- Yes. We can be fairly sure of that. Anthropology and ethnography show* our first societies consistently had ranks reflecting achievement, but as ranks were not inherited they did not translate into slavery.
- Why not?
- Because in these societies generosity is prestigious. Achieved wealth in the form of food, shelter, tools is given away, not monopolized in families. Studies show that chimps too have rank societies, but ranking cannot be passed on by inheritance. Each generation has to acquire rank for itself. Humans though, developing from out of the earlier societies that rank by generosity, with the heightened foresight that language allows have learned to teach their descendants how to frighten outsiders into submission, and institutionalize slavery by monopolizing food, shelter, and tools. Slavery is not natural. It's our first, characteristically human, culture. 
- I've read that in Australia, dolphin mothers have been observed teaching tool use for hunting, not generally practiced in their group, only to their own offspring.
- Does the exclusivity establish social relations?
- Depends how you look at it. To favor family over outsiders is a social relation, in-group and out-group.
- But can we see the influence of foresight? A deliberate attempt to change social relations, rather than deepen existing relations?
- I don't know.
- To institute deliberately inherited social class division we need at minimum to imagine, define both classes, the frightening and the frightened.
- And the dolphins didn't have to do that.
- No.
- But why do you think making class inherited has to be deliberate?
- Partly because other species without our foresight didn't discover the behavior, partly because generosity was first. Generosity, when acted on is complete. Wanting a world where you and your ancestors and descendants have property, and others don't, requires acting, and then attention and adapting to results. Generosity can be by habit, not so imposing order on the world.**
- Maybe we just stumbled into it.
- But then why didn't other species? Our foundation myths tell the story of a fall, of evil appearing in our nature as a result of gaining knowledge.
- And evil is deliberately choosing what you know is wrong for the sake of rewards in a group.
- Yes. The anthropological and ethnographic evidence fits.***
* See The Creation Of Inequality, Flannery and Marcus, 2012
*** See Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse On The Arts And Sciences 


- I have this new idea. I was walking home from UCLA, passed the L.A. Country Club and had stepped onto the small pedestrian island at Beverly Triangle, the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvds....
- Where the Peninsula Hotel is...
- ...when someone squeezed in between me and the signal post. I looked up with astonished recognition: a provocatively dressed extremely well taken care of beautiful young woman, smiling broadly at me. Beside her a middle-aged man, not looking at her.
- An escort and her client. How did you know her? Do you have secrets I'm not aware of?
- My runaway wife told me how I looked when she looked at me looking at her: astonished recognition.
- Recognizing what?
- Something I appreciated.
- Your wife had been an escort for a while.
- So she hinted. In fact I had been thinking of her during my long walk. 
- You never get over her. What's there to appreciate in these women? 
- Thoughts of appreciation were circulating in my mind, along with conspiracy theories, economic and political, and how accumulation of property leads to a slave society.
- Nothing else?
- No. I thought that imagining people plotting against you left you powerless if you didn't have some model of why and how they were doing it, some way to analyze the situation that would suggest some action to take. And that might also be true on a basic level, and there was a logic to how accumulation of unused property in developed societies led into slavery.
- When accumulated property is inherited, monopoly ownership of property develops forcing those without property into slavery.
- But what if, besides this practical, historical likelihood, there is some inherent relation between the two practices?
- Like what?
- Accumulating unused property, not giving it away, keeping it to pass down to descendants continues the same practice of not sharing.
- Leaving them property is sharing with descendants.
- Life is not shared with those property is left to. 
- And?
- I think it might be important. In undeveloped societies the donor of accumulated property continues to live with recipients. In developed societies, the value of accumulating unused property, not giving it away, is in the power it represents, and power can be transferred freely and arbitrarily after death since no sharing of life is involved. With no mental dissonance unused property can be transferred to the oldest son while leaving the other sons and daughters totally disinherited. 
- The transition from unused accumulated property to slavery comes about not merely out of a practical chain of events, but because of an arbitrary division of people into inheriting and not inheriting, neither class based on shared life.
- Waiting for the light to change on that Beverly Hills corner I turned a face of astonished appreciation, reminded of my wife who was wised up to the conspiracy of relations of men to women. How men wanted to buy women, but at the same time wanted to imagine that the women they bought like them. 
- You're going to say they wanted to imagine the money they're paying as a bequest to a descendant.
- Right. The men want to see the beauty they think they are buying as really theirs.
- They want to be women?
- They want to possess the power of the woman's beauty, as they have acquired unused property for the sake of the power it represents.
- Then slavery, as a product of imagination, develops directly out of inheritance of unused property. 
- That's my bright idea. 
- Interests conspire to wage wars, they transfer wealth from the poor and middle class to themselves, they care nothing for the destruction of the environment and of human lives, not because they are crazy, but because slavery is a natural consequence of acquiring unused property. 
- Yes. 
- Women who professionally use men know exactly what they are doing, are experts in giving men the impression power is transferred with their beauty. You admire these women because they're wised up, but they don't do anything about the male conspiracy except take the money and run.
- They reveal a vulnerability.
- They're tougher than the men.
- I mean the men's weakness. If what appears to be their conspiratorial madness is actually continual dependence on acts of imagination, and everyone wises up on a massive scale? Interfering with the imaginings might be a step towards bringing down the whole edifice of accumulated property and slavery.
- I can follow that, that's the old idea of "withdrawing consent".* For the rest, give me a chance to catch up!
- Take your time.
- Try this: accumulation of unused, unshared property is done for the sake of power property represents. Power to be safe and prosperous. Transmission of property to some descendants rather than others creates in the mind of the giver haves and have nots. And this too is done for the sake of power. The donor believes, in passing down property, he is buying into the power of the descendants, like the middle aged man buying the escort's beauty. And the power of haves over have nots is the idea of slavery. How'd I do?
- Not bad. You put together everything - property accumulated, unused, unshared, passed on, as an inheritance, selectively, for the sake of imagined power acquired through the bequest. You could maybe have been clearer with the conclusion. When those accumulating unshared, unused, property buy the imagined power of descendants, power is passed on to those already with it, and this what creates social class.
- Power stays with power. **

* See Their Technology And Ours
** For an example of how the idea of slavery is translated into class identification, see: The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tricked Me Again

How I write a story: start with a scene remembered from the past, ask what it means, get an idea. Describe the scene, set down the idea, let the scene develop in dialog. For example, a scene from my past which, now that I am home, seems typical of the world I've left behind: a meeting with my wife after several months of separation. Probably this would be a meeting of reconciliation. I ask myself now how I was calculating probability.

My impression being back home is that everyone here is the victim of a confidence trick. The trick is being sold on the belief that by voluntarily choosing your relation to society you are free in society. Where I was before the opposite belief was more common, that freedom was to be found in leaving your relation to society behind.

The confidence trick lies in the false belief that constructing a relation to society is like other forms of construction, is something like a work of art.  While attention is diverted to the beauty of the construction, it is not noticed that unlike the work of art which once created leaves you free to get on with creating a new work or go about your business without doing anything in particular, creating a relation to society imposes society's demand you continue in that relation.

The possible reconciliation with my wife would be on these terms: would she dump her ambitions, her alliance with rich men, her career as a singer in a band, and return to me? She'd slip back eventually to her regular role in society, of course, as we Americans, choosing type and styles slip back into freedom to recalculate role type and style.  But she'd be in that role a player, a sceptic and a hypocrite, identifying herself not with society but with her escapes from it. Whereas we are true believers in our roles, and obscure from ourselves the magic sleight of hand going on in our periods in which we reassign and rededicate ourselves to society.

Though I was born into this society of magician's assistants making offers to each other to stage their lives, for some reason the trick didn't work. I was more interested in what happened behind the curtain, before and after the performance, than the performance itself. I found myself more at home with people dismantling the performance, alone in the responsibility to do something with what remained, an individual act, than re-creating a performance at the price of social conformity.

That's the idea and the scene.  Here's the dialog:

- You look good.
- You too. You look better.
- Better than you, or better than I did before? So I looked bad before? You want me to take you back, I suppose.
- If you've nothing better to do.
- I don't know if I still like you. Do you still like me?
- I know you.
- That's not what I asked.
- I've always liked you.
- You could change your mind. And it's not true. Sometimes you hate me.
- A few minutes here and there. They don't matter.
- They matter to me. I don't like the way you talk to me.
- You can handle it.
- What if I don't want to? Too bad for you, right?
- I'll convince you.
- How? What do you have I can't get more of from other people?
- Nothing.
- Well then.
- So it's decided. We're back together.
- Yes. Tricked me again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mystical Experience & Spiritual Experience

- Is there any difference between mysticism and spiritualism?
- I would use mysticism and spiritualism to refer to different things, mysticism more about short lived "mystical experience" and spiritualism to a whole continuous ethical way of life.
- Give me some examples.
- A mystical experience can be as sudden and simple as working on your computer all evening and stepping outside, looking up at the moon, and you're out. You feel a relation to the moon, but neither the moon nor yourself is an object of your attention. Your own altered state has caught you.
- An epiphany.
- Yes. Now compare spiritual experience. Can I tell you a story?
- We love your stories.
- You remember how I was living in Budapest and my wife, urged by her ex-boyfriend, had decided to rob me with him. He showed up at the apartment, gave me a few demonstration pushes and jabs, and demanded I hand over my wallet. I did, saying I'd see him at the police station in a few hours. That's what happened.
- You mean you knew him?
- Yes.
- He wasn't afraid?
- This is Budapest, corruption is omnipresent. He told me he could handle the police.
- What happened then?
- My wife and her friend the robber left, I called the police, who arrived, asked questions, decided they'd drive me to the station. I was told to take a seat on a bench, and as I predicted, robber, with wife, soon were escorted through the door into the station lobby. They went into a room off to the side, the door closed, and I waited. Now for the spiritual experience.
- In the police station?.
- Yes. Unlike the experience of me and the moon, I wasn't particularly aware of my relation to the world. I was aware that I was certain nothing had changed in my relation to my wife. That what was happening here was entirely without significance.
- You didn't feel betrayed by her?
- No. I was used to being betrayed by her. It wasn't interesting.
- What was interesting then?
- Holding onto love.
- You were astonished you could do it, and that was the spiritual experience?
- Yes. The experience of no change, no matter how much appearances changed.
- You weren't ashamed of being duped?
- No. If anything I was somewhat grateful.
- Grateful for being robbed by your wife?
- Grateful I could find amusement sitting on that bench, watching the closed door behind which my wife and robber friend were negotiating with the Budapest Police.
- But didn't you want anything? Why did you call the police in the first place?
- I had to report my passport stolen to apply for a replacement. And I wanted to see what would happen.
- What happened?
- The police came out, handed me my passport, asked if I was satisfied.
- Were you?
- My wife marched out of the room and without turning her head left the station. I knew I'd see her again.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Care And Feeding Of Vampires And Zombies

   - Excuse me. We were making a bet. Are you a writer or an actor?
- What did you say?
- Writer. Because of the pen.
- If I have something so inefficient to write with I must be doing something more important than being useful. You win.
- What do you write? Really important things?
- Stories from my life.
- How is your life important?
- Well, you got it right from the start: because it is useless.
- Your life is useless? Nothing happens?
- No, a lot happens. For example last week I visited a law office at that high rise building over there. I'd gotten an email a month before from a L.A. video journalist saying she was writing a book on dangerous woman and wanted to make my wife its centerpiece. She proceeded to ask me if I had documents about my marriage, wedding certificate, was I still married or divorced, would I testify in court, were the stories I'd written about my wife truth or fiction? I replied she sounded more like a private detective than a journalist, and asked how she heard of me.  She knew a girl from her new age church who knew the Beverly Hills doctor who married my wife and now wanted to divorce her.
- Your wife married another man without divorcing you?
- See? Things happen in my life. I wrote the journalist a couple weeks ago that if she would like to meet I had arrived back in L.A. from Israel. The next day I received an email from the doctor, my first contact from him. And the following day his law firm wrote me, asking if I would visit them.
- What did they want?
- Help them prove my wife was not legally married to the doctor so he would not have to pay a divorce settlement.
- What did you say?
- I didn't see how I could help the doctor. I didn't like the idea of helping people who harmed me. If he was willing to do something about the disruption his arrival in my life had caused, we could talk.
- Did you mean money?
- Yes. Or something else. I like stories to continue.
- What did the lawyers say?
- They'd ask their client.
- And then?
- The doctor never answered.
- Why?
- Because I'm a useless sort of person when everyone is expected to be useful. I was writing with my inefficient pen about vampires and zombies. Want to hear?
- Everyone likes vampires and zombies.
- Of course they do. We live doing things without end, accumulating more and more things done, each for its own sake. Instead we might have been working towards finding friends, falling in love, making life beautiful and fair. Working towards being able to stop working. A vampire can't stop seducing his victims. It's his work. He doesn't want their love, their beautiful society. The union he seeks isn't mental. He physically incorporates his victims into his own body by drinking their blood, and by the death of his victims he excludes the possibility of resting even for a moment in a new society. He must go on, always go on, finding new victims, always doing without rest. That is what makes him a symbol of our times.
- But you do things too, like what you did with the lawyers.
- Useless things. Ridiculous things that don't lend themselves to infinite accumulation. Vampires and zombies both are creatures who do things without rest. Doing without rest, they might as well be dead. A life of restless activity is equivalent to death because it excludes the good of life. Zombies are flesh eating corpses animated against their will by a magician, whereas vampires are corpses animated by the blood of their deliberately sought victims.
- And what are you, vampire or zombie?
- Resisting being either. The doctor and lawyers are vampires who'd like to drink my blood.
- What about your wife?
- Vampire.
- Vampires want to make you into a vampire too.
- That was the 19th century, the new, self conscious consolidation of the murderous doers without end into a social class. Since the 20th century we have zombies. Zombies express the idea that society itself has become a machine for making masses of individuals into doers without end against their will.
- Why does society create zombies?
- Because society has come to be based on doing without end.
- Don't think me a child asking why over and over, but why is society based on doing without end?
- Once it begins, it increases. People only doing understand and cooperate better with people doing the same kind of thing. This translates into monopolies, which, disrupting society, force even more attention to doing. History draws this fatality out of human nature.
- From everyone's except yours?
- A writer wants to write beautiful stories, and when done rest in the beauty created. A mother like you wants to live in the midst of the love of her family, not accumulate children.
- If useless people, as you call us, exist the whole society is not vampires and zombies.
- No. But our flesh and blood is their food and drink.
- Will you write this down in a story?
- Sure. I don't think anyone can use it for anything.
- How do you make money?
- I don't make money.
- How do you live?
- It surprises me that I do. I'm turning into a new kind of monster, a combination zombie forced to go without sleep and vampire squeezing out stories from the lives of the useful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Detective

- What made you think she's a detective?
- Her language. She talks about the case, not the story. She calls my wife "that woman", as in "that women  has to be stopped". She asks me to send her my marriage documents she can pass on to authorities so my wife, that woman, will be stopped. 
- She's confrontational. You saw her videos.
- She's been working on "the case" three weeks, she says. Why doesn't she ask me anything except whether I am legally married?
- She told you. She wants to write a story that makes people laugh. She already knows enough about you to make people laugh, you the ridiculous second or third husband in a series. And she's a young woman. She's keeping distance to save you the trouble of making unwanted advances.
- You're probably right. She's recently married.
- To her you are a comic figure whose advances have to be blocked.
- Like my wife has to be stopped. Why do I feel offended?
- You think everyone should like you.
- They should.
- Are you going to continue answering the reporter's questions? Now that you know she is real?
- Where's my interest here?
- Publicity. You are a failure at getting everyone to like you. Maybe she'll succeed.
- With my story.
-  In the story she's writing you're one husband out of many.
- So where's my interest?
- What did you expect when you first heard someone was writing about your wife?
- The reporter wrote me that she knew where my wife was. I thought she might put me back in touch with her.
- Ridiculous man.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shooting Bullets In The Air

- I was a paramedic with the Israeli Army stationed in Nablus. I saw a lot.
- For example?
- Palestinians like to fire off rifles at their weddings.
- I've read about it. They seem to believe the bullets go up and up without stop.
- But the bullets come down.
- And they like to aim their rifles directly up? Imagining themselves growing taller along the bullet's path?
- Imagining themselves closer to god.
- And the bullets come down on them.
- Yes.
- You saw that?
- I saw the wounds. I had to treat them.
- Do you know what this reminds me of?
- What?
- A journalist in L.A. sent me an email a few days ago. She was writing a book on women who use men for profit and leave only destruction behind. She'd heard about my wife and me. It was a big story, and she wanted to feature it. We exchanged more emails:
 - Will you consent to be interviewed?
 - Yes. 
-  Are you still married? 
- I'm not a lawyer, but probably we are. 
- Will you testify in court? Sign the affidavit copied below on the email? 
- Why this legal interest? What happened to the "big story" you're working on? I should have asked before: what led you to me? 
- I know a girl from Church who knows the doctor your wife married.  The doctor is suing her for divorce, and she wants money.
 - I see. So she really married the doctor? 
- You two should work together, not be enemies. 
-  I tried to warn him she had a husband.
- This woman has to be stopped.
- Is this true? Your wife married again without being divorced?
- And after I told her future husband she already was married. I don't know what the doctor expects to gain by hiring a journalist to gather information, if that's what's going on. If she knew the marriage wasn't valid, so did he. If afterwards they lived together like a married couple, in California the same division of property rules apply as to divorce. It's like he went into the marriage for the pure joy of the celebration.
- Like shooting bullets in the air.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Married To The Business Of Buying

I kept hearing I'd got myself into an impossible marriage. No one admired me for it unless I showed them a picture of my wife. I kept hearing I was doing an impossible business and this almost everyone wondered at and approved. The wife was a wild, ambitious, story telling and story concealing Hungarian. The business was buying and selling old watches to other dealers doing the same. I tried to explain to all concerned that both impossible undertakings were both possible in the same way.

When you are married you don't have to look for someone to be with. When you buy and then sell things you don't have to look for something to buy: you are married to the business of buying. With my wife, my business was keeping up with her continual changes of mind about whether she wanted to be with me. Life with whatever new sort of person she had decided to be at that moment had to be renegotiated, re-bought, this work paid for by her with the pleasure I took in her company. But I had given up buying and selling watches, and she doubted I could be depended on in this business of marriage: 

- You don't love me.
- I do.
- You don't.
- What you love about me is what makes you think I don't love you.
- What's that?
- The way I do business. The way I married you.
- How did you marry me?
- When I sold watches, though I like watches and put every watch on my wrist, I wasn't attached to any of them. I liked the business, finding them, getting rid of them as soon as I could.
- You're saying you plan to get rid of me?
- That's just it: like one watch didn't interest me, the watch business did. Because you change your mind all the time you are not one wife, but a whole wife business.
- I love you because you think of me as a business? That's a new one. Who says I love you anyway?
- You do. You love me because you see you are an occupation for me, not a possession.
- If you work for me why don't you do what I want?
- I said you were my work, not that I worked for you.
- What's the difference?
- I'm working on you, not for you.
- I'm working on you too.
- You see? 
- See what?
- As long as were both being paid we can't get tired of each other. Eternal love.
- You'll see.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beatrix & The Presidents

- When does the bookstore close?
- Ten.
- Sit down here, next to me. Help me with my essay.
- You mean rewrite your essay.
- Whatever. Are you going to sit down?
- I'll sit over there.
- Why? You don't like me anymore?
- You oppress me.
- Then why are you with me?
- You're nice to look at. You're amusing.
- Go to hell.
- Send me your draft by email.
- Why should I send an email across the room?
- I'll work on it on my computer. Take it or leave it.
- You better do a good job.
- Or what? You'll fire me? What's the essay about?
- Comparing the speeches of Kennedy and Obama.
- What do you argue?
- You can read it. I'm sending it now.


- Now you sit down next to me?
- It's only temporary. I've fixed your homework.
- Send it to me.
- Did already.
- What did you think?
- Just a lot of talk. But similar, as you say.
- What did you think of my writing? And what's wrong with the speeches? They're good.
- Your writing is fine, in your usual poetically incoherent way. The Presidents' speeches are something like lies.
- Why lies? And watch out, if you keep insulting me.
- You watch out, if you don't want me to go back to my nice safe chair.
- Go ahead. What good are you?
- Good for editing your essays.
- Why are the Presidents' speeches lies?
- Because, unlike you, they don't show any spirit.
- Do I show spirit?
- Too much, and the wrong kind.
- What is the wrong kind?
- You keep telling me I don't love you, so you believe in love, right? It's real, it exists? It's something good?
- Yes?
- And you believe in self-discipline, work, study, ambition, right? Otherwise how could you always be insulting me for lacking it?
- You're a lazy bum.
- Let's say you are President. Not a lazy bum. You want to do the right thing about the economy, about the country's wars. You want to work toward a world where people love each other. You've made speeches about it. But what do you know from your own experience about overcoming pressure to do something else? How strong are you at defying the demands of other people?
- And that, according to you, is spirit? Defying the demands of other people?
- And defying your own urge to compromise.
- How is that not in the speeches?
- A leader needs authority, needs to speak from strength gathered from his own experience resisting demands to compromise. The Presidents' speeches are eloquent appeals to group members to be a better group members, to push each other to be better within the group.
- But that's fine.
- It's not. Because when the time comes the President is threatened, intimidated by enemies and political opponents, unless he has spirit he will not have the strength to resist demands to compromise.
- Find me a speech with spirit.
- Look up Vaclav Havel. Or get up and find his books on the shelves over there.
- Don't have time. Why do I have the wrong kind of spirit?
- Your spirit is mere defiance. It doesn't get you to do the right thing.
- Says you.
- Who you defy.
- Why not? You're not the President. You're just jealous. Those speeches are good.
- I'm going back to my chair. Read Havel.
- Send something to me.
- When I get back to safety.
- It's not that easy to get away from me.
- Don't I know it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

In Love With Code

1. Lock box with key inside.
2. Send.
3. Box sent back to you, with the recipient's lock attached too.
4. You remove your lock (you have a copy of the key that is still inside).
5 . You resend.
6. Recipient opens his lock, removes your key, reads your message.

Dare you disclose your love?

1. Your message of love is locked, impossible for your lover, for anyone to understand.
2. You send the message. You can't help it, you love, and you disguise.
3. Your lover receives the message, looking, listening, touching.
4. He respects your privacy and does not disclose his love, not yet. He returns his own disguised glance, words, tentative contact.
5. You can remove your disguise, the truth is now locked within your lover's own disguise. You can present yourself as you are.
6. Your lover sees you undisguised and he removes his own disguise. You say nothing now. The message of love has already reached you both, successfully and privately communicated in the story of the exchange.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Social Media

I've got a Facebook account with a lot of friends that seem to be fashion models in Brazil, chosen for their pictures. I've got twenty-two Twitter accounts. I've got a Linkedin account with fourteen hundred connections, all of them strangers. And I've got a Blogspot named after my annulled wife, where you can read stories in which apparently I'm a fictional character.

And if most of the world thinks I am a fiction created by my runaway wife what's wrong with that?

She must have a really great imagination to have written this too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Days Before I Met My Wife

It is difficult to explain, even to myself, what I was doing there again in Cyprus. The Cypriots had the same problem. Why had I left my own country, to go there and do nothing? Was I doing nothing, was I not a spy, for the United States, for Israel? Was I even really American? Why was I living like I was, spending time with a Serbian woman who, protected companion of a powerful local lawyer plainly didn't belong with me or to me or me belong to her in any way? Why was I helping her when no one else would, putting myself at risk?

She had moved me from my beach apartment to the store's loft, where I could sleep in the company of plastic bags filled with clothes donated to churches and bought by her by the pound. The owner of the restaurant next door tried to bully her, suffered astonished the fearless sharpness of her tongue, and proceeded to the performance of dirty tricks, knocking down trees in the courtyard and blocking her door, smashing, removing things. This about a place open 2 hours in the evening a few days a week. Sales averaged about 10 dollars a day as far as I could tell. I was brought over to house-sit.

Every morning I would climb down the loft steps cluttered with more plastic bags of clothes, make my way to the door, unlock it, drag out a table and a chair and make myself instant coffee. Knowing I was a reader, my friend had greatly expanded her collection of donated paperbacks. The customers liked to ask my advice on their selections. They'd ask me, sitting outside in the garden with coffee in one hand and book in the other, do you work here? No, just a guest. Go on in. Prices are on the board by the door. Leave the money on the book shelf. Just go on in? Yes.

Many people found the trust and nonchalance the most amusing thing about the place. More than one mentioned a Yiddish writer unknown to me by the name of Grade, and a story of a religious man who managed his store the same way.

I had Shakespeare, and best sellers, Plato and strange books on history and politics and poetry that would turn up at the churches. My Serbian friend would arrive most nights with yogurt and pizza for me, and we would sit outside together under the night sky. We had known each other for years, met in Budapest before she came to Cyprus, met her protector, and began to settle down. She would tell me sometimes, when I asked why she was being so good to me, she was my friend because I had helped her in the past, made her gifts, and I would always say I never would have given her anything if I knew it was going to be considered the price of her friendship. She'd laugh, and say, too late now, and in any event I let her repay the generosity or whatever it was.

After I had been there a couple of weeks the attacks of the restaurant owner resumed. The palm branch decorations on the roof are thrown down before the door. I go to the mayor's office to complain when my friend's visit to the police is unproductive. Eventually much of the town knows about this little war going on in the courtyard. And then it comes back to me.

From the garden a young man and a woman enter the store, ask me if I work there. I say no, I am staying upstairs. They can go in, if they find something they want they can leave the money on the shelf, prices are listed on the board. The man asks if he can buy the book I am reading and holding in my hand? I tell him it happens to be my book, not the store's. But I will be finished in a few minutes, and then you can take it. You are under arrest, the man says. Why? Tell you later.

The policemen, as he leads me into the lock up behind the station, says, "Your problem is you think you can change the world."

I meet many fine people on the other side of the fence, young men from the Indian subcontinent mostly. And I work over my ideas on Shakespeare's supernatural worlds, to one of which I have evidently been transported. Next morning I am taken before the court, met by a lawyer I had selected from a list provided by American Embassy. I am charged with working illegally. Passport confiscated. Bail money demanded, police drive me to automatic teller machine. And then I am out. The lawyer gets to work putting pressure on the prosecuting officials at the courthouse, and he recommends I get help from the Embassy. The pressure works, next day the prosecutor's representative is in court saying he believes there is no reason to continue with this case. Judge says he will await an official statement of this from the main office. Next day, the same official appears in court to say he has changed his mind. I get on a bus to the capital to speak with the American Embassy. They don't care, don't want to be bothered: put it in writing, they say, and we'll see. Next week back in court, another lawyer I have asked to help has been working again on the prosecutor's officers. She tells me they are ashamed of what they are doing. Then why are they doing it? Instructions from above. Continuances have been day after day arranged by the lawyers, and the judge is getting irritated. What are we waiting for now? An answer from the Embassy determining what they are going to do. I have been spending my days in the courthouse cafe, reading, meeting the other accused. The court interpreter suddenly appears and sits down at my table.

He tells me the judge wants this case to move forward. What do I expect from the American Embassy? I said I have asked the Ambassador to contact the Attorney General of Cyprus. What does the Ambassador say? I don't know, haven't spoken with him directly. Tell him the judge wants an answer. How? Call him. O.K., I will give it a try. I dial the number of the Embassy, ask to speak with the woman whom I'd been talking with before. She repeats the formula that the United States doesn't involve itself with the internal legal affairs of foreign countries. I respond that it is the judge here that is demanding a response. Really? Put your lawyer on the phone. I do, my words are confirmed. What do I want them to do exactly, the Embassy official asks me? I want the Ambassador to call the Attorney General and ask him if he knows what is going on here. That a prosecutor from his office has said in court that the case should not be prosecuted, there was no grounds whatsoever for the action to continue, then returned the next day saying he would proceed anyway. OK, she'll do that. I hang up, the interpreter asks me what she said. The Ambassador will call the Attorney General, I repeat, and the interpreter jumps from the table knocking over his chair and runs out of the cafe. Five minutes later he rushes back in, saying "Case closed! Call the ambassador! Tell him not to call the Attorney General". I make the call, the Embassy woman answers impatiently,

- Yes? What now?
- Case closed, the judge wants you to tell the Ambassador not to call the Attorney General.
- Too late, she says, I am looking at him on the phone right now talking with the Attorney General. What happened?
- I don't know.
- Incredible!

So it is over. My lawyer hands me later the official story: the prosecutors claimed they found a misplaced document from the capitol that had closed the case days before.

What was this all about? The usual: hatred of Americans, hatred of Israelis (anyone thought to be Jewish was considered Israeli), hatred of immigrants (my Serbian friend), anger at being defied by both me and my friend (the offending neighbor I had been told worked for the police as an informer).

This hatred was widespread. At Starbucks, the Lebanese manager had stuck used chewing gum on the inside of my cup lid. The manager of MacDonald's, like the rest of the town, had heard of my war with the authorities, and said the Jews were always stirring up trouble and bring it on themselves. A restaurant owner, who told me he also knew everything, warned me he wasn't on my side, he hated all Americans. Who was on my side? A pastor of a home church, a group of Christians who meet together privately at the house of this Cypriot owner of a large fruit cannery. I'd got into conversation with him on the beach promenade, and when he heard the sad tale immediately invited me to stay with him in his house. He agreed it wasn't safe to stay at the store any longer, and his house is where I was to be found the nights of the days of court delays, debating definitions of religion, doctrine, practice. I tried out my new ideas with a visiting English preacher who had acted in Shakespeare at school.

I was told the cannery mostly employed immigrants. What was going on with me was part of a vicious program of attack on immigrants, which seemed to have no purpose other than cruelty. Impossible papers were demanded, immediate expulsions ordered....

On the day the court gave up on me, I bought the first ticket I could get out of Cyprus to Budapest where I had friends. At the stop over in Prague I got talking with a student, who it turned out had been researching in Cyprus the subject of the persecution of immigrants. I told my story, and her comment was swift: she knows this very well. In a place where immigration is not a problem and the immigrants themselves generally admired and welcomed by the people, the police hunt them as a sport. The Cypriots were themselves, before they got rich from tourism and off shore banking, humiliated foreign workers. The people who are studying the situation, and apparently there are many, say that the police enjoy the reversal of roles. They are literally mad about it.

The very afternoon I arrived in Budapest I met my wife-to-be....