Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Heads





- What happened to your head?
- You know the arcades on Ibn Gabirol? I turned to look at a man who kept looking at me as he passed, a strange smile on his face. Next thing I knew I'd walked into a pillar. When I got home, a room in the apartment of two unemployed engineers, mother and son, the son who works sometimes as a traffic policeman told me a 40 year old man died that night on Ibn Gabirol. I told him it wasn't me.
- You're not dead and you should be happy. Look around you. See all the people smiling, laughing, enjoying themselves? There's a new philosophy we've created here.
- What is it?
- An old one revived. I call it the last days of Pompeii. We enjoy ourselves because we know any moment war can break out.
- Enjoyment, not happiness.
- Who is happy? You're not happy. You smash your head. You're trying to tell yourself something.
- Actually I think happiness is telling yourself something about your life, that it's good. It's not just eating and drinking and smiling at each other, detachment from future and past. It looks to me the people here don't tell each other stories. They're not smiling about what they've done, they're smiling at taking the occasion of future uncertainty to enjoy themselves now.
- You might be right. But what difference does it make?
- A big difference. When you disregard your past or future you end up doing what you say I'm doing, your body reminding you it exists where it is and when it is even if it has to walk you into a pillar to get your attention.
- People can't be happy if they always look at the bad in life.
- If bad and good are kept separate. When people try to make their lives better, bad remains bad, but it doesn't feel the same. It is possible to be happy without disregard of the world when you know you have overcome some - not all - bad to get to your happiness.
- Too theoretical for me.
- Bad looks different depending on whether you do something about it. When you don't, it is irreconcilable with good, no conception of good life can include the existence of the bad in the world.
- But we can't remake the bad. That is why we enjoy life while we can.
- You don't know you can't. Anyway, you don't have to remake the entire world. Create anything and in your mind bad is connected to the good you aim at, and the little good you achieve makes the enjoyment you take not evasion of bad, which remains as part of the story, but real happiness.
- How do you know we're aren't doing this too?
- When people don't tell each other stories, don't make stories, there is no reason for them to have any integrity. Every move, each sentence can serve the purpose of the moment. Yesterday I was at the University's dental school, and this is the conversation my afternoon ended with. I said to the Head of the Educational Service:

- They sent me down here to complain.
- About what?
- The School doesn't seem to know whether they charge for treatment by students or not.
- Everyone pays.
- I was told sometimes not.
- That's true. When you have no income.
- I would like to apply.
- You're not eligible.
- You don't know anything about me.
- Everyone pays.
- You just said not everyone pays.
- We need the money to cover our costs.
- With prices for student's work as high as the highest priced dentist in Beverly Hills.
- American schools charge their students 40,000 dollars a year. We charge only 2,500. And government support is less every year.
- Instead of the government subsidizing the education of dentists who will go on to become rich the poor who can only afford treatment from students subsidize their education. Do you think that is right?
- You are twisting the facts. One has nothing to do with the other. We do the best we can.
- And it is just an accident that the best you can do results in the rich paying less and the poor paying more.
- Write a letter if you have a complaint.
- Why should I write a letter when I have you now to talk with?
- I have to go. If you wait maybe the Dean of the school will see you.

- What did you want to talk to me about?
- The student who was going to treat me first said not everyone pays and possibly I wouldn't have to, then he said everyone pays. The Head of the Educational Service just told me exactly the same. Both that everyone pays, and sometimes not. Which is it? If sometimes not, I would like to apply.
- Everyone pays.
- Why did the student and the Head of the Educational Service here say otherwise?
- Everyone pays.
- Were they lying to me?
- There are exceptions, but not for you.
- You don't even know my name.
- I know you.
- You know me?
- Yes.
- How? The School Of Dentistry is connected with the spy services?
- I've explained our policy to you.
- You told me everyone pays and not everyone pays. It's insane.
- That's how it is. Further conversation is without purpose.