tolerance at home and abroad

13 février 1900.
Claudel déjeune. Il parle du mal que l’affaire Dreyfus nous a fait à l’étranger. Cet homme intelligent, ce poëte, sent le prêtre rageur et de sang âcre.
—Mais la tolérance ? lui dis-je.
—Il y a des maisons pour ça, répond-il.

Ils éprouvent je ne sais quelle joie malsaine à s’abêtir, et ils en veulent aux autres, de cet abêtissement. Ils ne connaissent pas le sourire de la bonté.
Sa soeur a dans sa chambre un portrait de Rochefort et, sur sa table, La Libre Parole. Elle a envie de le suivre dans ses consulats.
Et ce poëte affecte de ne comprendre et de n’admirer que les ingénieurs. Ils produisent de la réalité. Tout cela est banal.
Il a le poil rare et regarde en dessous. Son âme a mauvais estomac. Il revient à son horreur des juifs, qu’il ne peut voir ni sentir.
13 February 1900.
Lunch with Claudel. He speaks of the harm that the Dreyfus affair caused to us abroad. This man, this poet, smells of a fanatical priest and acrid blood.
—What of tolerance? I said.
—There are houses for that, he replied.

They feel some unhealthy joy at dumbing themselves down, and they want others to follow suit. They do not know the smile of kindness.
His sister has in her room a portrait of Rochefort and, at her table, La Libre Parole. She wants to follow his consular appointments.
And the poet affects a failure to understand and admire anyone but the engineers. They produce reality. All this is commonplace.
He has thinning hair and a downcast gaze. His soul has indigestion. He returned to his horror of the Jews, whom he cannot suffer to see or smell.
13 февраля 1900 года.
Обед с Клоделем. Он говорит о том, какой вред нанесло дело Дрейфуса нашей репутации за рубежом. От этого человека, этого поэта, исходит душок изувера-священника и едкой крови.
—Ну а терпимость? спросил я.
—Есть для этого дома, ответил он.

Они испытывают какое-то нездоровое удовольствие от самоотупления, и подстрекают других к тому же. Им неизвестна улыбка великодушия.
Его сестра повесила в своей комнате портрет Рошфора, а на стол положила «Ля Либр Пароль». Она хочет следовать за ним в его консульствах.
А сам поэт делает вид, что не понимает никого кроме инженеров. Они производят действительность. Всё это пошло.
У него жидкие волосы и потуплённый взор. Его душа страдает несварением желудка. Он возвращается к своему отвращению к евреям, которых он не в силах ни видеть ни обонять.
—Jules Renard, Journal 1887-1910, Pléiade, 1986, p. 570

a farewell to shmaltz

     Shmaltz
Fat, especially chicken fat. Used in place of butter in kosher homes when a meat meal is served. The cracklings left after chicken fat is rendered are gribbenes or greevn. My mother made her own chicken fat and kept it in the refrigerator in a Skippy’s Peanut Butter jar.
    There’s a Romanian-Jewish restaurant on the old Lower East Side, Sammy the Waiter’s, that has one of those glass pitchers other restaurants use for cream or maple syrup, filled with schmaltz on every table. Marvin Hamlisch’s dad used to play accordion at this restaurant. It was during one of his breaks that Zero Mostel stood up and shouted at the top of his lungs, “This food killed more Jews than Hitler!”
    My theory is that although Jews in Eastern Europe were poor, we were fairly certain of two good meals a year; for the new year in the fall and for Passover in the spring. So we invented a cuisine we could taste for six months just to remember.
    Shmaltz and its Americanized adjective, shmaltzy (in Yiddish it would be shmaltzik), also refer to high-cholesterol styles of music and tear-jerking drama.

    —Joel Siegel, Lessons For Dylan: On Life, Love, the Movies, and Me, PublicAffairs, 2004, p. 239.
Zero Mostel’s restaurant review is corroborated by The New Yorker, Volume 50 (1974), p. 84.


European cultures are of three kinds: wine drinkers who cook their food in olive oil; beer drinkers who cook their food in butter; and vodka drinkers who don’t much care for cooking, or food. My lifelong project is to ascend from the last position, to the first.

gun control after hitler

Omer Bartov, one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject of genocide, recounts its lessons to Salon:

Just imagine the Jews of Germany exercising the right to bear arms and fighting the SA, SS and the Wehrmacht. The [Russian] Red Army lost 7 million men fighting the Wehrmacht, despite its tanks and planes and artillery. The Jews with pistols and shotguns would have done better?

As a matter of fact, though nowise limited to pistols and shotguns, my Jewish father and his brother did a lot better inflicting disproportionate casualties upon the Wehrmacht on behalf of the Red Army. By contrast, owing to the Soviet policy of victim disarmament, they were unable to resist the emissaries of their triumphant State, dispatched to convey them to the GULag after the closing of international hostilities.

Is Professor Bartov making the point that in so far as my family and my kind are powerless to resist la raison d’État on our own, we might as well put our trust in our democratically elected princes, and learn to relax and enjoy their periodic infringements of our fundamental rights? Or is his reference to having been a combat soldier and officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, and knowing “what these assault rifles can do” meant to suggest to the contrary, that we Jews ought to arm ourselves with the deadliest small arms available, in consideration of two millennia of oppression and genocide visited upon our ancestors?

Arms, kept and borne individually or institutionally, aren’t a panacea. Thus France was heavily armed, but quickly succumbed to the Nazis, whereupon she used her arms to round up French Jews for extermination on their behalf. Would I and my likes be morally, physiologically, or economically better off armed or disarmed on the occasion, or in the anticipation, of the next Vel d’Hiv roundup?

пидорас в нехорошем смысле

Еврейский анекдот наоборот:
— Мойша, а ты знаешь, что Жора — пидорас?
— Что, он занял денег и не отдаёт?!
— Да нет, в хорошем смысле.

Une histoire juive à rebours :
— Moishe, tu savais que Gégé est un pédé ?
— Quoi, il a emprunté de l’argent et ne le rembourse pas ?
— Non, dans le bon sens.

The contrary of a Jewish joke:
— Moishe, you know that Gerry is a fag?
— What, he borrowed money and refuses to repay?
— No, in a good way.

Tenue de soirée vingt-sept ans après:

как я в 18 лет превратился в персонаж художественной литературы

Среди нас оказался вчерашний школьник, мальчик с нефритом, на строжайшей диете. Вся еда ему не годилась, вся без исключения. Но кто это будет учитывать в бараке? Жри, что дают! Узнал об этом старик, отсидевший по тюрьмам семнадцать лет, принес назавтра пару плиточек шоколада. На свои купил, на запрятанные деньги.
    — Кто против них, — сказал, — тот мой друг. Где бы их ни давили, я рад.
    Это он притащил горстку конфет, пачку вафель, белый хлеб для школьника. В жестокий шмон умудрился пронести под стелькой ботинка еще одну плитку шоколада. От тепла шоколад расплавился, потек, пропах лишним запахом: пришлось его выкинуть.

    — Феликс Кандель, Зона отдыха, 1979

мои авторитеты

В 1989 году на кампусе Калифорнийского университета в Лос-Анджелесе меня окликнул хасид.
—Молодой человек, вы еврей?
—Предположим, что да.
—Не хотите ли исполнить мицву, наложив тфилин?
—Спасибо, я это уже пробовал. Ничего из этого не вышло.
—Как это так? Исполнение мицвот является Вашей обязанностью.
—Наши мнения расходятся. Я так не считаю.
—А что же Вы считаете? Скажите, кто по-Вашему самый мудрый человек в мире?
Разговор явно шёл по направлению к Менахем-Мендлу Шнеерсону, предполагаемому Божьим помазанником. Я решил резко изменить курс.
—Я считаю, что самым мудрым человеком в мире на настоящий день является Алонзо Чёрч.
Хасид взволновался.
—Как так? Кто это такой?
—Это мой учитель логики. Он преподаёт в нашем университете. Если хотите, я могу Вас познакомить.
—Нет, спасибо… не надо.
На этом разговор и закончился.

Чёрч научил меня, что ничьё мнение никогда не является, и не может быть решающим. К сожалению, его больше нет в живых. В качестве нынешнего авторитета, я назову Карло Гинзбурга.

no one leaves this world uneaten

To claim an interest, I have been in social media for over 21 years, and signed up on Facebook long before it opened beyond Harvard students and alumni. From this perespective, I am reminded of an anecdote told by Jerry Weintraub:

Samuel and Rose Weintraub came west to visit their older son, the one who would not go into the gem trade, to see what kind of life he had made for himself. “Now I have a big mansion in Beverly Hills, a Rolls, a chauffeur, fresh flowers, butlers, swimming pools—everything,” Jerry told me. “My mom and dad arrive, and I pick them up with my driver, and my mom is beaming. We get to my house and we’re serving caviar, Havana cigars for my father, and champagne—the whole deal. After a couple of days of this, my dad says, ‘I want to talk to you. Let’s take a walk.’ We get outside and he says, ‘I want to ask you a question and I want you to tell me the truth and I don’t want any bullshit from you. Are you in the Mafia? How did you get all this? You were never that smart.’”
    I’m creative. I did it.
    Where’s your inventory? How can you have this much money and not have an inventory? It doesn’t make sense to me.
    “The next day I made arrangements. My mother’s favorite was Cary Grant. And horses. We drove to Hollywood Park [racetrack] and Cary Grant was waiting for us. He opened the door and looked at my mother and said, ‘Rose, I’m your date for lunch.’
    “They had lunch and he made her bets for her and sat with her. I don’t think my father liked it so much. That evening I made a dinner party with all the stars. And Cary came. I remember going to the bar, and my mom was having a glass of champagne. And Sinatra came up and said, ‘Hey, Rose, I heard you had a great date for lunch today.’ And she said, ‘Yeah, but I like my Sammy better.’”

— Rich Cohen, “Jerry Weintraub Presents!”, Vanity Fair, March 2008

In the instant conversation, I am struck by the preponderance of cutting edge XXIst century cinematographers channeling an itinerant Jewish jeweler from a century ago. Lighten up. Everyone serves as inventory to all sorts of entities, from governments to maggots. No one leaves this world uneaten. My favorite strategy is enjoying the set and its setting whilst pacing my consumption, as an agent and patient alike.

our 4:20

…certainly beats the Old World version. Then again, we have inherited a bit of that latter in our New World. Founded by Josef Bischof in 1978, the Old World German Restaurant has long hosted periodic celebrations of Hitler’s birthday and conferences of Holocaust revisionists. In 1997 Josef exercised his inalienable rights under the First Amendment thusly: “Aust these no good [Santa Barbara County] supervisors. They deprived me of my property rights! They deserve the Auschwitz treatments.” Here is his daughter putting a spin on it:

He probably would have been better off saying, “The Santa Barbara County Supervisors should be sent to Siberia”—maybe then he wouldn’t have been such a “Bad Guy”. If you know your history, Stalin was just as evil as Hitler, and during WWII, people were deathly afraid of being sent to Siberia. However, the remark about Russia would not have pushed the buttons of so many, nor will Stalin ever be as memorable to the American public because of the significant amount of Jews in this country.

—Cyndie Bischof of Huntington Beach, 20 January 2000, OCWeekly

For my heritage of a GULag survivor, the best part is the mass noun amount used in lieu of numbering Jews.


Unheimlichen Geburtstag, Herr Schicklgruber! I’m taking Bragmardo and my Swiss friends on a stroll in the Old World.

ни трагедия, ни фарс

Человек стремится всю жизнь не быть посредственностью (חוצפה, если не ὕβρις), или хотя бы не осознавать себя оною (tragische Konflikt, не ἁμαρτία, а ἀμαθία). Кончает посредственным скандалистом—не в силу лени, и не за неимением таланта, а из-за провинциальной ограниченности.

В Париже или Берлине пожалуй вышел бы Доминик Стросс-Кан или Даниэль Кон-Бендит; в Лос Ангелесе или Нью Йорке—Майкл Милкен или Эл Франкен. В Питере знаменательно произошёл Виктор Леонидович Топоров.