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Posts Tagged ‘Nazis’

American BanjoThe following is a passage from my novel American Banjo, a story about several generations of an aristocratic American family. It was released earlier this year on Amazon.com.

From the diary of Sandra Eccles:

There is a simple elegance to life. There is a simple elegance to a good mystery. You jump on a ship looking for adventure, looking for drama, looking for meaning. And just as you find the object of your desire, your desire evaporates. I seek drama, and I find drama.

I think of Occam’s razor; the simplest explanation is the best one. The simplest way to write a sentence is the best way.

I wonder if I’m mature enough to live my life simply. I start to think of my father. I hate to think that he might have been right. That my defiance was a play I didn’t understand, and now that I do, the defiance means nothing. But you negotiate the paths to wisdom only through action, through praxis; you may climb a mountain only to find there is no longer a mountain to see. That is mountains. And that is philosophy. The journey was the thing. It was good you made the journey. But the wisdom isn’t what you found. The wisdom came from knowing you had to look.

I think about this after returning home and gazing upon the sleeping, topless figure of the woman who tried to steal money from me—the woman who is now my wife. How we got here is not important. I’ve walked through different rooms of life with her and the room we started in has been demolished. I can no longer know the me before Sieglinde. Nor care about who she was before or who I was.

She wasn’t a thief as I found her. She was asleep. People who sleep are innocent.

I had seen Priscilla earlier that day. Priscilla, the doyenne of my scene, the brilliant lawyer who had helped establish the intellectual underpinnings of “judicial interpretation as violence,” the woman who rebelled through textures, seemed to have become sweet on me … as a mother or something more.

“I have to say, when you were at the party the other night without Sieglinde, I began to worry.”

“About?”

“You two have been together for what … 18 months?”

“Two years.”

“What do you talk about?”

“It was a relationship born in a crisis. We emerged from that together.”

“Crisis isn’t a value.”

Priscilla pushed my hair back where she thought she saw a bruise or something. I pulled away. Evidently, she’d heard things.

“Is this an intervention?”

“I’ve come to care about you, Sandra. You’re focused. You’re ambitious. You hurt Sieglinde with a curt remark and don’t notice. She watches you talking to other women.”

“I can’t think about that. This is my book. My career. I won’t be stopped.”

“But she’s your lover. What if she wanted you to stop? For a baby, maybe.”

“I can’t be held back by that.”

“So leave her.”

I snorted a bit.

“I can’t do that either.”

Priscilla, wiser than anybody I’d ever met, waited for an explanation as she sipped her green tea.

“I can’t do it because she was the one who made me what I am. She brought me out.”

“Which makes her not even as important as your mother, who you probably wouldn’t respect anywhere near as much. You really feel as if you owe her your life? The way a child owes something to a parent?”

“Yes, a little.”

“Well, sooner or later, a child can’t owe something to a parent. She must know that what a parent gives to a child besides life is something more precious. Eventually, the parent must give that child freedom. That’s part of the contract.”

“In what law? Not the Torah?”

“In life. In love. You can’t sacrifice yourself for Sieglinde. You don’t owe her your soul. You don’t owe that to anybody.”

“Stop. I won’t do it. I won’t cut her loose.”

She didn’t talk for a long time, then finally …

“There are other people who want you,” Priscilla said. “Women who want to be with you. Who see your value. You don’t have to compromise. I found out a long time ago, even before I left my husband, what it means to be a whole person.”

“And what’s that?”

“Nobody can take on the responsibility of making you happy. And you can’t take on the responsibility of making somebody else happy. It’s too much to ask. And if you do, you’re not really allowing them to live up to being fully human.”

I drank tea and listened, and she pushed my hair back again.

“Cut her loose.”

Copyright 2012.

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“I did not want white nationalists in the White House. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to register members of a religion in contravention of the First Amendment. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to revisit the morality of Japanese internment camps. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want people to make fun of the disabled–to say it was OK for my kid to do it, or for my disabled kid to suffer it. I just wanted change.”
“I did not say it’s OK for entitled, powerful rich men to aggressively try to sleep with my wife. I just wanted change.”
“I did not think it was OK to grab women by the crotch. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want the United States to start torturing prisoners again. I just wanted change.”
“I was not for committing war crimes against the innocent bystander relatives of suspected terrorists. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to let banks start doing the same things they were doing before the financial crisis. I just wanted change.”
“I did not think it was OK to denigrate a guy who was beaten three times a week by the North Vietnamese as some sort of loser. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to free polluters and contribute to a global climate phenomenon that is going to affect the quality of life for my child. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want to signal to a president that it was OK for him to basically merge his business interests with his political interests by using his children as a meaningless buffer. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want the KKK to feel emboldened. I just wanted change.”
“I did not want a rude tone set for politics from the top down by a man who made political incivility his trademark. I just wanted the change.”

Congratulations. If all these things became acceptable to you, you’ve changed.

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What tangential argument did we lapse into while debating Roman Polanski’s arrest in Switzerland?

–*Provincial Americans don’t appreciate fine, sophisticated sex with 13-year-olds.

–*Everybody’s a hypocrite. Polanski. The judge. The prosecutor. And especially my ex-wife Laraine.

–*Well I certainly hope people forgive me after 32 years for whatever I might have done, though it’s none of your business what that might have been.

–*You Polanski defenders make me sick. He goes free while you Zionists continue to live on our Palestinian soil.

–*Look, the girl he raped is grown up and she said she forgives him. Why do you people have to bring the law into a relationship that was belatedly between two adults?

–*How can you pick “The Tenant” over “Rosemary’s Baby”? You’re just being an asshole now.

–*I don’t care what you elitists think, an artist should not be spared when he commits a crime, not even when his mother was killed by the Nazis, his wife by the Manson Family or his chance for a fair trial by a showboating Hollywood media whore judge.

–*We shouldn’t ever take mitigating circumstances into account when somebody commits a crime, and if that sounds extreme to you, then come back in a week when my lithium has kicked in and I’ll probably sound a bit more reasonable.

–*I’m sure that the U.S. would willingly give up its own international fugitives from France if asked. Like Henry Kissinger, for instance.

–*I know it’s an important topic, but did “The Pianist” have to be so depressing?

–*When a person is victimized as a child by people like the Nazis, it’s very explainable how he might victimize somebody himself later on, and we owe Roman Polanski the benefit of our compassion. But honestly, I’m still inclined against him because “Bitter Moon,” was such a misogynistic and self-indulgent piece of shit.

–*Hasn’t Roman Polanski suffered enough for his crime? For 32 years he’s had to sit in France and get medals and money and fuck his highly erotic wife Emmanuelle Seigner. Can’t we just leave him alone?

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