tribal misgivings

Why do so many otherwise decent people hate and resent the chosen people? The chosenness is burdensome, for Jews and gentiles alike. The burdens emerge at the fringes of our culture.
    In a sympathetic article on gays in the military, published in the 23 September 1993 issue of The New York Review of Books, Robert Stone cites one of the defiant letters from gays cited in Randy Shilts’ Conduct Unbecoming. The letter comes from an enraged hospital corpsman, protesting anti-gay discrimination aboard his ship. “I will no longer live a second, secret life,” the corpsman writes, “because the Navy has seen fit to adhere to an ante-diluvian, Judeo-Christian posture that no longer and never was congruent with social realism (sic).” In response, he rightly questions the extent to which the Catholics and Baptists (not to mention Jews) can be called upon to abandon their “Judeo-Christian posture”. As the ante-diluvian originator of this posture, the Jew calls forth the hatred by the morally different. These tensions first pitted the early Christians against the lions in the Colosseum. Multicultural Roman impresari who engaged these acolytes of an alien faith, formerly adopted the barbarian deities as soon as the Roman Empire incorporated their worshippers. This tradition served them well, until the recalcitrant Judeo-Christians refused to extend reciprocal worship to the images of the Imperial power. To this day, in bearing its Imperial authority to the darkest corners of our world, the Judeo-Christian faction remains uneasy in dealing with its faggots. Continue reading tribal misgivings

who was that masked man?

In a passage from the Cogitationes Privatæ, a collection of fragments written around 1619 and known today from a copy made by Leibniz, René Descartes pledges: “Ut comœdi, moniti ne in fronte appareat pudor, personam induunt, sic ego hoc mundi teatrum conscensurus, in quo hactenus spectator exstiti, larvatus prodeo.” (Œuvres de Descartes, Ch. Adam and P. Tannery (eds.), X 213, 4-6.) Just as comedians are counseled not to let shame appear on their foreheads, and so put on a mask, so likewise, now that he is about to mount the stage of the world, where he has so far been a spectator, young Renatus Cartesius comes forward in a mask. Continue reading who was that masked man?

the beatings will continue until morale improves

Rachel calls again. She asks whether Michael ever loved her. If so, how can he treat her that way? Michael reminds her of her predecessor turning out the same question. From each according to her ability, to each according to her need. Rachel has had her chance. Michael gave her many opportunities to get things right. She chose to salt the ground and poison the well. She is feeling sorry now. She wants to know what would happen if she came back. Michael declines to predict. She wants Michael to know that she had her reasons for striking out at him. Michael declines to excuse. She wants to know what to do with her tender feelings. Michael suggests an appropriate receptacle.

Y a-t-il des folies mathématiques et des fous qui pensent que deux et deux fassent trois ? En d’autres termes, l’hallucination peut-elle, si ces mots ne hurlent pas [d’être accouplés ensemble], envahir les choses de pur raisonnement ? Si, quand un homme prend l’habitude de la paresse, de la rêverie, de la fainéantise, au point de renvoyer sans cesse au lendemain la chose importante, un autre homme le réveillait un matin à grands coups de fouet et le fouettait sans pitié jusqu’à ce que, ne pouvant travailler par plaisir, celui-ci travaillât par peur, cet homme, le fouetteur, ne serait-il pas vraiment son ami, son bienfaiteur ? D’ailleurs, on peut affirmer que le plaisir viendrait après, à bien plus juste titre qu’on ne dit : l’amour vient après le mariage.
    De même, en politique, le vrai saint est celui qui fouette et tue le peuple, pour le bien du peuple.

— Charles Baudelaire, Fusées

Is there not a mathematical madness, and madmen who think that two plus two make three? In other words, can hallucination, if these words do not cry out [from being conjoined together], invade the realm of pure reason? If, when a man accustomed himself to indolence, to daydreaming, to idleness, to the point of incessantly postponing important matters till the day after, another man woke him up in the morning with great flailings of a whip, and whipped him mercilessly till he, unable to work for pleasure, would work from fear, that man, the tormentor, would he not really be his friend, his benefactor? At any rate, it could be said that pleasure would follow, far more assuredly than it is said that love comes after marriage.
    Likewise, in politics, the true saint is he who whips and kills the people, for the good of the people.

— Charles Baudelaire, Skyrockets, translated by MZ


Man Ray, Portrait imaginaire de D.A.F. de Sade, 1938
Oil on canvas with painted wood panel, 61.5×46.6cm
The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas

When I was writing a review of Alban Berg’s correspondence, I remarked to an elderly and very distinguished psychoanalyst that I was surprised by how many of Schoenberg’s students seemed to enjoy being so badly treated and humiliated by him. She replied, “I have no time to explain this just now, but I can assure you that there are a great many masochists and not nearly enough sadists to go around.”

1. the bad glazier

    Il n’existe que trois êtres respectables :
    Le prêtre, le guerrier, le poète. Savoir, tuer et créer.
    Les autres hommes sont taillables et corvéables, faits pour l’écurie, c’est-à-dire pour exercer ce qu’on appelle des professions.
    — Charles Baudelaire, Mon cœur mis à nu
    There exist but three respectable beings:
    The priest, the warrior, the poet. To know, to kill, to create.
    The rest of men belong to the fatigue party, made for the stables, in other words for the practice of that, which is called professions.
    — Charles Baudelaire, My heart laid bare[0]

It is the 26th of August, 1862. Charles-Pierre Baudelaire is forty-one years old. After losing his father thirty-five years earlier, the bereft son wasted no time in squandering most of his patrimony at the earliest opportunity. Yet to this day, he commemorates the late Joseph-François Baudelaire, philosopher and theologian educated at the University of Paris, a defrocked abbot and inflexible republican, in a reliquary transported through his frequently changes of Parisian domicile. The jealous stepson of the dashing general Aupick, Baudelaire takes solace in the former commander of the Ecole polytechnique and ambassador to Madrid and Constantinople having passed away five years earlier, bequeathing to the full-fledged orphan the undivided attention of the widowed Mme. Aupick. For the past two decades this grown-up has been subsisting in the state of legal minority, supervised by a conseil judiciaire administered by the notary Narcisse Ancelle. His livelihood depends on cadging handouts from his beloved mother to supplement the allowance from the remainder of his inheritance and the proceeds from his translations of Edgar Allan Poe and occasional journalism. For the past fifteen years he has cultivated notoriety as the poet of Les Fleurs du mal, with six of its blossoms judicially condemned and censored for obscenity. About twenty months earlier he has published its expanded and improved second edition, meant to support his fervid, failed candidacy for the Académie française. An erstwhile defender of the revolutionary barricades, he is now become an adept of pure art, a dedicated dandy, and an acute opium addict. His political fervor has transmuted into self-flagellation in the midst of a Jansenist crise de foi.[1] Continue reading 1. the bad glazier

a raging and savage beast of a master

[John Travolta] said that Cary Grant once gave him weight-loss advice. “Cary Grant told me to forget the whole thing about food, eating—just make it not important. I didn’t like that piece of advice, but often I had to use it to lose weight for film. Now cut to 20 years later: I told Marlon Brando what Cary Grant had said, and he said, ‘Don’t listen to Cary! You eat what you want, when you want it. You deserve it. You’ve earned the right!’ Of course I liked that advice, and as you can see, to this day I adhere to that advice!”

— “The Trials of Travolta”, The New York Observer, 12 December 2004


Harper’s Weekly, Vol. VIII. — No, 390.
New York, Saturday, June 18, 1864.

Rebel Cruelty — Our Starved Soldiers. — From Photographs Taken at United States General Hospital, Annapolis, Maryland

    Cary Grant’s advice resonates with the detachment of Epictetus’ Encheiridion. In its Hollywood applications, it might not be meant to follow its classic prototypes in suppressing the remaining six deadly sins. On the other hand, Michael’s neighboring community standards readily embrace the application of same technique, mutatis mutandis, to rid oneself of ugly fat between the ears. The trick is to forget this whole thing about thinking, reason — just make it not important. This exercise is most helpful in anticipation of old age. Continue reading a raging and savage beast of a master

lovers and fighters

    [WebEx ex-President and outgoing CTO Min Zhu] first sexually abused [his daughter Erin] in August 1988. […] Just as [Erin] was about to fall asleep, Min Zhu slipped into bed with [Erin]. Although a brilliant student, [Erin] was naive and innocent about sexual matters. [Erin] had studied biology and was aware of the biological aspects of reproduction, but she was unaware of the “practical” aspects of sexual matters. Min Zhu was wearing shorts and a tank top/t-shirt. [Erin] was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Min Zhu removed [Erin]’s clothes and began to touch her sexually. [Erin] verbally objected to his advances but Min Zhu merely stated that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing. Min Zhu proceeded to remove his clothes and forced [Erin]’s hand to touch him sexually. Min Zhu assured [Erin] that there was nothing wrong with [Erin] touching him in that way and that Min Zhu’s state of erection was normal. Min Zhu proceeded to turn on the lights, stating that he wanted to see [Erin] naked because he had never seen a virgin naked, since her mother was not a virgin when they were married. [Min Zhu] proceeded to place his hand between [Erin]’s legs and pronounced that the moisture in her vagina meant that her body was “being bad” and that she deserved to be punished. [Erin] attempted physically to refuse Min Zhu’s sexual advances. However, she was powerless to fight her father off. Min Zhu was approximately 39 years old, was a grown man in his prime, and was much larger and very much stronger than [Erin]. Min Zhu was approximately 5’11” tall and weighed approximately 160-170 pounds at that time. [Erin] was a fourteen-year-old girl, was only 5’4″ tall and weighed less 90 lbs. Min Zhu became more aggressive and mounted [Erin]. When [Erin] struggled, Min Zhu began choking and restraining [Erin] with a blanket. He threatened to kill her. [Erin] stopped fighting her father as she was physically overpowered and feared that she would be severely harmed physically. [Erin]’s fear was all the more pronounced in light of Min Zhu’s long history of domestic violence and lack of remorse or conscience. Min Zhu then proceeded to rape [Erin].
— Excerpted from the January 18, 2000 draft complaint by Erin Zhu, the daughter, rape victim, and hush money recipient of WebEx President and CTO Min Zhu, filed as an exhibit in Opposition to the Defendants’ Motion to Strike in Zeleny v. Zhu & WebEx, Santa Clara Superior Court Case Number CV-809286.

    On January 19, 2000, I traveled to Palo Alto, California, to meet with Min Zhu and Susan Xu to discuss settlement of Erin Zhu’s claims. I met them at the Gordon Biersch restaurant in Palo Alto, California. Min Zhu opened our meeting by describing to me his experiences in China during the Cultural Revolution. He stated that he and his wife had been sent to a remote camp and had had to struggle very hard just to survive. He said that he had been in many fights. He then told me he had come to this country and succeeded in building a billion dollar corporation, but if he lost it, he would not be troubled, because he had already undergone such hardships that any such loss would be nothing in comparison to what he had already suffered. He said he looked forward to a new experience, fighting in the American court system, and it could not do anything to him that could compare to what he had already endured.
    During our meeting, Min Zhu expressed familiarity with the general subject matter of Erin Zhu’s claims, although I had not specified them at any point. He did not ask me about any details of Erin Zhu’s claims. He did not deny any of the allegations.
    During our meeting, Min Zhu described his difficulties in parenting Erin Zhu. He said she was irresponsible. He also told me that he believed Michael Zeleny was a bad influence on her. He also speculated that Michael Zeleny was responsible for Erin’s decision to press claims against her parents.
— Declaration of David W. Affeld in Opposition to Motions For Summary Judgment and Summary Adjudication By Defendants in Zeleny v. Zhu & WebEx, Santa Clara Superior Court Case Number CV-809286.

    The date: Tuesday, December 25, 2001.
    The time: between 19:15 and 19:35 PST.
    The action: An anonymous caller calls Michael’s AT&T mobile number 323-363-1860 seven times in a row. His caller ID is blocked. The calls are witnessed and overheard by Michael’s father Isaak Zelyony. The first six calls are wordless cackling. The last one proceeds as follows:

    Anonymous Caller with a heavy Chinese accent: You are a bad man.
    MZ: Say what?
    AC: You are a bad man.
    MZ: Really?
    AC: You have been warned.
    MZ: Uh huh.
    AC: You have been warned.
    AC hangs up.

    The date: Thursday, December 27, 2001.
    The time: 15:47 PST.
    The action: An anonymous caller with the same voice as before calls Michael at his home number, 323-876-8234 from a pay phone 310-216-4805.

    AC assays a sinister laugh, then hangs up and leaves it off the hook.

    The date: Friday, December 28, 2001.
    The time: 22:12 PST.
    The action: a private call to Michael’s home number, 323-876-8234. The caller ID is blocked.
AC cackles and hangs up.
    The time: 22:16 PST.
    The action: a call to 323-876-8234. The caller ID is blocked.

    AC cackles.
    MZ: Speak up, wuss.
    AC hangs up.
    The time: 22:17.
    The action: a call to 323-876-8234. The caller ID is blocked.
    AC cackles.
    MZ: What a lonely, sad job you must have.
    AC cackles.
    MZ: What a lonely, sad shithead you must be.
    AC hangs up.

    The time: 22:20 PST.
    The action: a call to 323-876-8234. The same voice as the first time.The caller ID is blocked.

    AC: You’re a dead man.
    MZ: Come and get me.
    AC: Soon. Very soon.
    AC hangs up.
    The time: 22:21 PST.
    The action: a call to 323-876-8234.The same voice as before. The caller ID is blocked.
    AC: Don’t fuck with WebEx.
    MZ scoffs.
    AC: Mr. Zhu will get you. This is your last warning.
    MZ snickers.
    AC hangs up.

    The date: Wednesday, January 2, 2002.
    The time: 18:45 PST.
    The action: An anonymous caller calls Michael’s AT&T mobile number, 323-363-1860. The same voice as before. The caller ID is blocked.

    AC: I see you aren’t taking this seriously. You had two dogs, right? Go home and see how many dogs you have now. Do you understand me?
    MZ: No, I don’t. Could you speak English?
    The exchange continues along these lines for three minutes, until the connection breaks.
    The time: 18:51 PST.
    The action: The same anonymous caller places another call to Michael’s mobile number. The caller ID is blocked again. The same voice as before. The caller is agitated. This call is witnessed and overheard by David W. Affeld.
    AC: You listen to me now. You have two dogs. Which dog you like best?
    MZ: I like you. I want you to be my dog.
    AC: You go home now, see you only have one dog. You understand now?
    MZ: No, I don’t. Could you speak English?
    AC: You only have one dog now. You take good care of one dog.
    MZ: I have no idea what you are talking about. Who is this?

    The exchange continues along these lines for three minutes, until AC hangs up.

the original sin

I went to a concert upstairs in Town Hall. The composer whose works were being performed had provided program notes. One of these notes was to the effect that there is too much pain in the world. After the concert I was walking along with the composer and he was telling me how the performances had not been quite up to snuff. So I said, “Well, I enjoyed the music, but I didn’t agree with that program note about there being too much pain in the world.” He said, “What? Don’t you think there’s enough?” I said, “I think there’s just the right amount.”

— John Cage, “Grace and Clarity”, 1944


Edvard Munch, Scream, 1893

Here, as always, Proust is completely detached from all moral considerations. There is no right and wrong in Proust nor in his world.  (Except possibly in those passages dealing with the war, when for a space he ceases to be an artist and raises his voice with the plebs, mob, rabble, canaille.) Tragedy is not concerned with human justice. Tragedy is the statement of an expiation, but not the miserable expiation of a codified breach of a local arrangement, organised by the knaves for the fools. The tragic figure represents the expiation of original sin, of the original and eternal sin of him and all his ‘soci malorum,’ the sin of having been born.
                  ‘Pues el delito mayor
                  Del hombre es haber nacido.’

— Samuel Beckett, Proust

In der That ist die Ueberzeugung, daß die Welt, also auch der Mensch, etwas ist, daß eigentlich nicht seyn sollte, geeignet, uns mit Nachsicht gegen einander zu erfüllen: denn was kann man von Wesen unter solchem Prädikament erwarten? — Ja, von diesem Gesichtspunkt aus könnte man auf den Gedanken kommen, daß die eigentlich passende Anrede zwischen Mensch und Mensch, statt, „Monsieur“, „Sir“, u.s.w., seyn möchte „Leidensgefährte, Socî malorum, compagnon de misères, my fellow sufferer.“ So seltsam dies klingen mag; so entspricht es doch der Sache, wirft auf den anderen das richtige Licht und erinnert an das Nötigste: an die Toleranz, Geduld, Schonung und Nächstenliebe, deren jeder bedarf und die daher auch jeder schuldig ist.

— Arthur Schopenhauer, „Nachträge zur Lehre vom Leiden der Welt

In fact, the conviction that the world and man is something that had better not have been, is of a kind to fill us with indulgence towards one another; for what can one expect from being in such predicaments? — Indeed, from this point of view, we might well consider the proper form of address among men to be, not “Monsieur”, “Sir”, and so on, but “Leidensgefährte, Socî malorum, compagnon de misères, my fellow-sufferer”. This may perhaps sound strange, but it is in keeping with the facts; it puts others in a right light; and it reminds us of that, which is after all the most necessary thing in life — the tolerance, patience, regard, and love of neighbor, of which everyone stands in need, and which, therefore, every man owes to his fellow.

— Arthur Schopenhauer, “On the Sufferings of the World

the original sin

“John Cage tells the story somewhere of going to a concert of music composed by a friend of his. The composer had also written the programme notes for the music in which he said, among other things, that he hoped his music might go some way to diminishing the suffering in the world. After the concert his friend asked him what he thought of the event and Cage answered, ‘I loved the music but I hated the programme notes.’ ‘But don’t you think there’s too much suffering in the world?’ the friend asked, obviously put out. ‘No,’ Cage replied, ‘I think there’s just the right amount.’”


Edvard Munch, Scream, 1893

Here, as always, Proust is completely detached from all moral considerations. There is no right and wrong in Proust nor in his world.  (Except possibly in those passages dealing with the war, when for a space he ceases to be an artist and raises his voice with the plebs, mob, rabble, canaille.) Tragedy is not concerned with human justice. Tragedy is the statement of an expiation, but not the miserable expiation of a codified breach of a local arrangement, organised by the knaves for the fools. The tragic figure represents the expiation of original sin, of the original and eternal sin of him and all his ‘soci malorum,’ the sin of having been born.
                  ‘Pues el delito mayor
                  Del hombre es haber nacido.’

— Samuel Beckett, Proust

In der That ist die Ueberzeugung, daß die Welt, also auch der Mensch, etwas ist, daß eigentlich nicht seyn sollte, geeignet, uns mit Nachsicht gegen einander zu erfüllen: denn was kann man von Wesen unter solchem Prädikament erwarten? — Ja, von diesem Gesichtspunkt aus könnte man auf den Gedanken kommen, daß die eigentlich passende Anrede zwischen Mensch und Mensch, statt, „Monsieur“, „Sir“, u.s.w., seyn möchte „Leidensgefährte, Socî malorum, compagnon de misères, my fellow sufferer.“ So seltsam dies klingen mag; so entspricht es doch der Sache, wirft auf den anderen das richtige Licht und erinnert an das Nötigste: an die Toleranz, Geduld, Schonung und Nächstenliebe, deren jeder bedarf und die daher auch jeder schuldig ist.

— Arthur Schopenhauer, „Nachträge zur Lehre vom Leiden der Welt

In fact, the conviction that the world and man is something that had better not have been, is of a kind to fill us with indulgence towards one another; for what can one expect from being in such predicaments? — Indeed, from this point of view, we might well consider the proper form of address among men to be, not “Monsieur”, “Sir”, and so on, but “Leidensgefährte, Socî malorum, compagnon de misères, my fellow-sufferer”. This may perhaps sound strange, but it is in keeping with the facts; it puts others in a right light; and it reminds us of that, which is after all the most necessary thing in life — the tolerance, patience, regard, and love of neighbor, of which everyone stands in need, and which, therefore, every man owes to his fellow.

— Arthur Schopenhauer, “On the Sufferings of the World

victim of love

On March 8 of 1991 Michael responded to an anonymous advertisement published on the Usenet newsgroup alt.personals as Message-ID 20113@samsung.samsung.com. As he found out later, it had been posted by Erin Zhu. The anonymous author described herself as an 18 year old female who “prefers unconventional just about everything, including clothes and people.” At that time, Michael attended Harvard College. At the same time, Erin Zhu attended Santa Clara University and lived at home with her parents.
    Over the next three months Erin gradually confided her family troubles to Michael in frequent email exchanges and phone conversations. According to her she was two years younger than stated in her ad, only about to turn seventeen on March 31 of 1991. Erin also informed Michael that she had lived in the United States over five years, arriving from China with her mother in 1985 to join her father Min Zhu, then a graduate student at Stanford since 1983.
    Erin further informed Michael that three years after her arrival in the United States, in July of 1988, her mother went back to China for eye treatment. According to Erin, while her mother was away, her father Min Zhu came to her bedroom and raped her. Erin added that at the time of her sexual assault by Min Zhu, her brother Lei Zhu, two years her senior, remained in his bedroom next door and heard her struggle and cry out, but did nothing. At the time of this sexual assault, Erin was fourteen years old.


Edvard Munch, Puberty, 1894-1895

    Erin further informed Michael that Min Zhu continued to rape her daily for over a month. According to her, Min Zhu ceased raping her only after Labor Day, so as not to interfere with her school studies. Erin also informed Michael that over the following three years Min Zhu continued to subject his family members to frequent brutal beatings.
    Erin additionally informed Michael that owing to these outbreaks of violence, she had run away from her family home in December of 1989. At that time Erin made a police report complaining about sexual abuse and beatings by Min Zhu. Erin further informed Michael that the police placed her in a foster home in San Mateo for two weeks following her escape from home. According to Erin, her parents then persuaded her to drop her criminal charges against Min Zhu and come back home. As an incentive for her to comply with their request, they pledged to cease their old family ways. However, Min Zhu resumed physical and verbal abuse of his family members shortly thereafter.
    Michael first met Erin in San Francisco in June of 1991. On the occasion of their meeting, Erin informed Michael that she reported her rape by Min Zhu to her school counselor in Los Altos in early 1991. Erin also informed Michael that owing to the increasingly intolerable nature of abuse visited upon them by Min Zhu, she was conspiring with her mother and her brother to kill Min Zhu and assert the battered family defense. In response, Michael counseled Erin against the use of violence, except in self-defense against clear and present danger. Michael further recommended that Erin leave her family residence as soon as possible for the sake of her safety, sanity, and survival.
    In July of 1991, Erin moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Erin reported to Michael that she had been sexually assaulted by her brother Lei Zhu on a trip to San Diego a year earlier. Erin also supplied numerous details of her abuse and intimidation by Min Zhu. Michael advised Erin to limit communication with her family and to make a new life for herself on the East Coast. Michael pledged his personal and financial support to that end.
    In the Fall of 1992, after visiting her parents in California, Erin complained to Michael about recurring outbreaks of violent abuse perpetrated against her by Min Zhu. In response, Michael once again advised Erin to curtail her relations with her parents. Erin thanked Michael for supporting her in standing up to her parents. Erin also informed Michael that Min Zhu hated him, blaming him for the alienation of her filial affection. Erin additionally informed Michael that her parents resented him as a consequence of their embarrassment by his detailed knowledge of Min Zhu’s rape of his daughter.