Sunday, November 18, 2012

In Budapest

I. The Politics Of Home

Walking in Buda with my new friend the retired translator, talking about the peculiar nature of the Hungarian language and Hungarian thinking, we get to Szondi. A contemporary of Albert Szent-Gyorgi, the discoverer of vitamin C, Szondi was known for his idea that personality disorder was a family inheritance. You felt at home with people who looked like you, you couldn't help it. So he'd show you photos of crazy people, and when you said which you liked and which you didn't, he'd tell you how crazy you were.

I wonder how crazy I am, in the company of this man from another world who says he spent his whole life working. I am someone who almost can say the opposite. Many of these places we're passing on our long walk I haven't seen for years, are places where I said hello or good-by to my friends whose friendship went nowhere. Nothing went anywhere in my life. But does that mean I am crazy? I counter-attack: Show me the picture of Szondi, and I wouldn't like it! His theory is just more myth-making politics pretending to be science. I go on:

- I was thinking over an idea while I was waiting for you at the three benches. I called it my theory of democratic love. This was supposed to describe the last weeks I spent with my wife. I was accustomed to having no pattern in my life, letting it go where it would. And I found this wife who fit right in. There was no pattern, nothing got accomplished. She was like a politician, I decided, who sold one myth or another, to people who didn't pay attention to any facts of political life. They don't pay any attention because in this phase of modern democracy the practical aspect of government, protecting everyone from everyone else's violence, is confused with the requirements of society. Their politics is identical to their psychology: it has its origin in obscure and entirely private drives, desires, forces.

The people, if we look at them as private scientists, we don't have any data on, don't observe how they act with each other; the individual "forces" or drives that motivate them don't communicate with those of other people. Without this data, individuals cannot evaluate competing political theories. Politicians sell them one myth or another, typical stories of how life should be, that appeal to individual drives, independence, cooperation, work, etc. Once in office, politicians, likewise unable to communicate psychologically with the people who elected them, serve their own drives, usually for money and power.

With my wife it seemed like I never knew even the basic truths of what was happening, where I was going to live, what she really thought about me, about her future, our future. The result was that like an ignorant democratic I stumbled from one myth of our future to another, one dream to another. This had its romantic side. With all the different theories I had to live with, I wasn't a democrat, I was an entire democracy!

- In a way, I agree with you. Psychology hasn't been able to get beyond the 5000 year old three part division of our selves - the soul, the spirit, the body - from the Egyptians to present time, to either prove it wrong or improve on it.
- I think that is because it works well enough. I have used it myself.
- Can you say then what spirit is?
- Yes, that's easy. It is the sense of home, it is the drive, desire, motive to get back home when you have gone or been driven away. Home is an intermediary between mind and body. It is, you could say, the body of the mind, the place in the world the mind knows, and that place becoming like another body. Like the body has be maintained, so does the body of the mind. We like to get back home. Our present politics is politics of the body, when it should be politics of home.
- I've never heard anything like that.
- The idea has its home in the stories I wrote*, I've told you about them.
- Yes, I haven't had time to get to it yet.
- Anyway, the idea I was working on this morning was that absent the third part, the spirited part, the part of the soul that give us the idea of home, our democracies become plutocracies, government by the wealthy. Psychology is of forces, of work, doing things, yet politics is about the good life, which involves also feeling good. The third part includes this in the observation, makes it part of the facts which we use to judge the theories that politicians sell us to get their jobs. How we live together as a society is another kind of home.

The thing about living with my wife: I couldn't help the idea coming to mind that she was in fact doing what politicians do, selling me myths but pursuing her own desires, money and power. And it disgusted me finally, terrified me even. In other words, it destroyed my sense of home, and the third part told me: go. So that is what I did.

Whether I was a victim of my own theorizing I don't know. I guess that's what I have to think about next.

My Wife Who Throws Me Out (An Essay On Home)
Eve (An Essay On Spirit)

II. Hamvas And Humbug

The Toldi Cinema has seen better days. Once a meeting place for the thoughtful and independent of Budapest, now remodeled in the style of a modern office building lobby, it is nearly empty at all hours. At night however many of the original staff can still be found there. Last year, the evening before I returned to L.A., I'd asked about the internet and was taken back into their office and placed before their computer, and was told in the process that I was known there. First came fifteen years ago, right? I thought a moment. Right, that was 1996.

I used to take the night train from Zurich, with at least one watch for business on my wrist and one light bag on my shoulder, and arrive just after noon in Budapest. I'd come to the Toldi, drink a cup of coffee and see one or more of the movies playing that day. I rarely talked with anyone, because when I tried I was gently made aware that this place I was a guest at was a place of friendships, but of longstanding, tried and tested friendship. You weren't sure you had a friend until ten or more years had elapsed. I could expect politeness and no more. It took some getting used to.

I remember one time in particular I approached a young girl reading a Hungarian paperback of Salinger's Seymour, An Introduction and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters. Her English was poor, and my attempt to converse about this book, one of my favorites, was not received with any enthusiasm.

Last week, some four or five years later, I think I see there the same girl with the same book. I say Hello. Her English hasn't improved. Hasn't she read the book before, I ask her. She tells me she has read the book uncounted times. And I back off. This is the Toldi, after all, I know the rules.

As things work out, when you are a traveler and when you stick to the same way of life there are many coincidences. My new Hungarian friend the translator I mentioned in The Politics Of Home has a best friend who's written a novel set at the same Toldi Cinema in those days a decade ago, with characters based on many of the regulars. Though we'd probably never spoken together, I guess this friend would recognize me.

Karma, and similar Eastern ideas, the looking for hidden meanings and order, play a large part in the Toldi girl's book. It presents a philosophic argument. It talks to me, even if the cinema patrons don't. I go over it once more. Seymour and his family the Glasses are performers who practice the art of life. They suffer from the bad art practiced by most of the people around them. Seymour's brother, the supposed author of the story we are reading, quotes Kierkegaard and Kafka on the subject of deliberately allowing mistakes to stand as an implicit defense against the claim of art to be the truth about life. Buddy seems to be ecstatically happy over his discovery that his brother killed himself as an act of bad art in defense of the truth in life lived as art.

Though the family members are said to be always performing, they perform out of love for each other. Performance is saved from self destructiveness if and only if it is done for the sake of love. Seymour says he would have liked to please the public librarian who set books before him when he was a child. Following Buddhist principles, practicing the art of Buddhism, he tries and mostly fails to love his new wife, with whom he has nothing important in common. ("Marriage partners are to serve each other. Elevate, help, teach, strengthen each other, but above all, serve.") Yet his brothers and sisters, because they can love each other, do not kill themselves. They do not kill themselves because they can talk to each other seriously, take each other seriously, at least at times of crisis.

I had an interesting experience at another Budapest cafe earlier this week, The California Coffee Company, familiar to some of my readers. I asked the man in the chair next to mine what he was working on. Business. And I? What did I do? Standard answer: I write things no one reads. No one reads anything. His woman friend tells me I said that to the wrong person: her friend reads, reads all the time. Philosophy? Yes, that too. The man asks if I know the famous Hungarian philosopher Bela Hamvas. I don't but immediately look to see what is by him on the internet. I say that while I read Bela Hamvas the reading man can read some of what I write, it's also on the internet. Proving his friend correct, he immediately goes to the site address I write down for him, asks me what essay I suggest to read, and he starts reading it right there and then!

So he reads me while I read Hamvas. As far as I know, not one single person has read those thirty pages of mine from beginning to end.

Hamvas is very poetic. I read one essay after another. After a half hour, the man sitting across from me tells me he is done. Read it all? Yes. What did he think? Liked it, especially some parts, liked the style. But it didn't all seem to fit together. Did I agree?

- Yes, I agree. I left it that way, knowing it wasn't really one picture. I wanted the disorder to reflect the disorder of life as it is lived, as opposed to the order art puts life into. I thought I might be permitted to do this since the main idea of the essay was that there were two fundamental ways life was lived, natural and supernatural. The writing of the essay would include examples of both. I realized at the time this was probably a mistake on my part. But as I said, I just left it. I didn't try it again in later writing. Do you understand?
- I think so. What did you think of Hamvas?
- Not a philosopher. His use of terms like "existential corruption", his invention of psychological categories such as "Siren" and "Titan" is poetic, not philosophical. They are the practice of art, not philosophy.
- What is the practice of philosophy?
- When you say something that is testable. Art, myth, poetry help you remember and classify your experiences, but not in a way that can be confirmed by others' experiences. They are only performances. Show-maker and audience remain separate. Philosophy says something to another person that person can test against his experience and then respond that it is right or not right. When I wrote in the essay you read about the supernatural, I didn't simply create or refer to existing categories. I gave the categories an exact description using examples from Shakespeare, which description other people can look to their personal experience to confirm or refute. It is the difference between saying what a philosopher does, and actually doing it. A philosopher doesn't just create categories, he passes the product over to someone he loves, or intends to do this in the future if no one is at hand. The philosopher doesn't worry too much about the beauty of his words, the form of his thoughts, because all he cares about is passing words and thoughts on to his friends and lovers for their improvement, response, adaptation, understanding. His words are always a work in progress.

His life is with other people. The form of his life expressed in his words is not his true subject. His true subject is his life with others, for the love of whom he speaks. That life includes the response to his words that is not there and he is willing to wait for.

The Glass family members can and do speak to each other and test each other's ideas. With one exception, Seymour the suicide, the brother credited with being a saint, a kind of life artist, they safely pass through the danger of their seeing their lives as bad art and deliberately sabotaging them.

Buddy says at the end of the story he is giving Seymour away. He makes a gift of him to his readers. The Seymour of the story who lived a life of art accusing itself of infidelity is only a myth. And the readers, Buddy's friends and confidants, don't deserve more. They're also imaginary.

III. With The Skateboarders Post Forty

Were these the only happy people left in the city? They didn't pay much attention to me, and I didn't pay much attention to them. Six, or maybe eight kids living in this hundred year old apartment on the main tourist street in Budapest. Skateboarders, skating their days, their nights watching skateboard films on the internet, they smoke, they talk, they lounge until they collapse. Around twenty years of age, they have jobs, don't go to school. The apartment belongs to the mother of one of them. One of the youngest has invited me to make this my refuge while I wait to go to Israel. The next step. There have been a lot of steps, and I'm getting tired. The kids see it.

- I hope I'm dead before I'm forty.
- Why?
- Life is only misery when you're not young.
- You think my life is miserable then.
- You're poor.
- How do you know?
- You are traveling all the time, moving from place to place.
- One place of misery to another. How do you enjoy your youth?
- This apartment is a skakeboarding community. We're all poor.
- Like me.
- But we love to skate. As long as I have my drugs, sex, cigarettes, music, it's all good.
- So you're happy.
- You don't think so?
- I was thinking you were, and wondering why.
- We're young, and doing what we want.
- You might find as you get older there are other good things in life.
- Like what?
- Like knowing things.
- Like what?
- For example, why you like to listen to anarchist music while you skateboard.
- It gets us to push.
- Push?
- Yeah. Push, push. When I walk without my board that's all I am thinking. I want to push, to move.
- Well, push long enough in one direction, and something will happen, some story. You'll want to know why. It's good to understand, you might want to add it to your list of skating, smoking, sex, and music. Life you can understand is beautiful.
- I don't believe in beautiful lives.
- Then I guessed right about your music?
- Do you think your life is beautiful?
- You refer to my miserable moving from place to place after the hotel threw me out?
- I don't really know you.
- And I don't know you guys. I'm leaving early tomorrow. I know I appreciate your youth, though I am a post forty monster to you.
- No, you're cool. Just kicking.

IV. The Billionaire

We can accept and love without qualification. In the moment we love we are without caution or limit in our appreciation. We do not accept all actions, past or future, but their consideration is for another time. Love is a way of experiencing the moment.

How do we experience our moments of contact with a billionaire?
As the life's work of all billionaires is protecting their money, and protecting themselves from being seen as a source of money, they are comfortable only in the company of others whose main occupation is preventing themselves from being seen as a source of money; living with others of their species they are unable finally to be seen as anything else. Protecting the future of the money acquired in the past, they have no present. They become unconditionally unlovable.
"To be clever enough to get all that money you have to be dull enough to want it."

1. The August 11, 2011 Edition Of The New York Post:
'A beautiful Brazilian soap star has the lead role in her own daytime drama, which casts George Soros, the billionaire financier of lefty causes, as a heavy who not only broke her heart, but also reneged on a promise to give her an Upper East Side apartment worth $1.9 million.

The drama will be staged in Manhattan Supreme Court, where 28-year-old Adriana Ferreyr yesterday filed a blockbuster $50 million suit charging, among other things, that the frisky octogenarian slapped her around while they were in bed discussing his real-estate betrayal.

The sultry actress and the mogul, who's worth some $14.5 billion, had dated for five years before he heartlessly dumped her a year ago, the lawsuit says.

But they briefly reconciled, and while spending a romantic night together, he whispered in her ear that he'd given the apartment to another woman.

"While still in bed, Soros slapped Ferreyr across the face and proceeded to put his hands around her neck in an attempt to choke her," her lawsuit claims.

Soros, 80, then allegedly at tempted to strike her with a glass lamp, and though he narrowly missed, it smashed on the floor and she cut her foot, which required three stitches.

According to a police report, she called cops, but no charges were filed.

Soros "denies throwing the lamp and totally denies trying to choke her," a friend of the billionaire's told The Post.

"This is about a lot of money and an apartment."

Soros' lawyer, William Zabel, called the lawsuit "frivolous and entirely without merit."'
2. The Economy Of The United States, 2012:
$15 Trillion is the current U.S. Deficit.
There are more than 300 Million Americans.
That makes $50,000 borrowed in the name of each American.

Where did the $15 Trillion go?
A few percent to social services.
The greater part of the rest went to tax cuts for corporations and to paying corporate military contractors.

15 Trillion dollars borrowed from Americans and given to corporations. The money isn't gone. It is in corporate bank accounts. Each of 300 million Americans pays between one and two thousand dollars interest each year on the money borrowed and given to the corporations.
3. The June 23, 2011 edition Of The New York Review Of Books:
George Soros reflects on his 30 years of philanthropy in the course of which he has given away 8 Billion dollars:
"I have made it a principle to pursue my self-interest in my business, subject to legal and ethical limitations, and to be guided by the public interest as a public intellectual and philanthropist. If the two are in conflict, the public interest ought to prevail. I do not hesitate to advocate policies that are in conflict with my business interests. I firmly believe that our democracy would function better if more people adopted this principle."
4. The March 12, 2012 Edition Of The Daily Mail:

Hungarian-born Soros, while being a notable philanthropist championing liberal causes, is  also known as the 'Man Who Broke The Bank Of England'.

He made an estimated £600 million during the 1992 'Black Wednesday' UK currency crises, correctly predicting that the British government would have to devalue the pound.

On 16 September, 1992, his fund sold short more than $10 billion worth of pounds, profiting from the UK government's reluctance to either raise its interest rates or float its currency - finally withdrawing from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and devaluing the pound.

In 1997, the UK Treasury estimated the cost of Black Wednesday at £3.4 billion.'
5. The October 13, 2011 Edition Of The New York Review Of Books:
George Soros puts himself on record saying that the world's bankers and politicians, methodically causing economic distress, are leading the world's democracies into civil war. He can't decide whether they are doing this because they are incompetent or they want what they are working for.

According to Soros, in boom and bust cycles, a boom of unrealistic optimism, where the crowd of optimists imitate and predict each others actions, is followed by bust, a realistic pessimism where the crowd of pessimists imitate and predict each others actions.

Acting on the false economic principle that free markets benefit all, most of the world has gone from boom to bust, but not the bankers and politicians, who because of their ability to control governments with their money are still in a boom. They are richer than ever, than in any time in world history.
6. Budapest, Hungary, Below The Citadel:

Walking down Vaci Street to Vorosmarti Square I met an old acquaintance in the city tour business. He complained about gangsters running the country:
- They try to destroy the lives of everyone except their friends. If you don't have a million Euros you're nothing. I've given up expecting things to get better. These past years have been the worst in my life by far.
- For me too. But things will get better. Greece is standing up to the liars and thieves of the European Union, at Camp David last week they already backed down, at least in words. In the U.S., the law was overturned that allowed the government to kill, torture, abduct, secretly imprison without trial or representation. Your buses go up to the Citadel, right? What's happening up there?
- The owners are all in jail.
- I'm not surprised. What did they get them on?
- Something about taxis at the airport. I only read a few lines in the newspaper.
- When was that?
- A few days ago.
- You know, I first stayed there in 1996. This year I was usually the hotel's only guest. The same people have worked at the hotel for decades. They told me they liked me to be there, mostly because they cooked the books to show I wasn't there and pocketed my rent. I was a profitable guest. One day they asked me to pay the balance, and the next day said it was all over, everything ends, time to go. Leave today. Do you know anything about the Citadel?
- No. Only from the news.
- According to the receptionist, the one who liked to talk with me, this family that runs it is always fighting the city. Their contract with the city giving them the right to rent the castle and grounds was never signed. It's been in court since, unresolved. He said the city had shut down their taxi company, and the city forbid them to use the terrace they built in the castle courtyard. They operate a radio station from the Citadel the city won't give them a license for. I'd be sitting in the lobby and the police would come in and demand the station be turned off. When they left it would resume broadcasting. Then the police came and broke down the door to the equipment room and carried away the transmitter. A new one was then set up outside the Budapest City limits, also without license, and the station was back on the air.
- Now they're in jail.
- The previous holder of the Citadel was murdered, according to the receptionist. The current bosses, their problem was, he said, they didn't have the million Euros to hand over. He was a failure but his bosses were bigger failures.
- I didn't know any of this.
- I like to talk. I used to meet like this all the time, acquaintances, friends, walking down the street. Something happened to all these people I used to meet, talk with. What you said about gangsters destroying the lives of everyone not with them. I'm used to the idea that gangsters help their friends, hurt their enemies, but ruin the lives of everyone not in their gang? That's new to me. It explains something I've been wondering about, why the EU, the American government deliberately destroy the world's economies. Conspiracy theorists say they want to cause riots and respond with repression, make everyone a slave. But maybe they are clearing the field. Destroying all normal life, all capacity for normal business, and then without competition their companies expand into the vacuum.

7. Budapest, Hungary, the Central European University

- Do you want to hear the truth?
- Do you know it?
- I'll tell you what I heard.
- Ok.
- The chief administrators of the European Union were always coming and going at the Central European University. George Soros the billionaire money speculator founded the University, and had recently added a Center For European Union Studies. Thus the traffic in bureaucrats. They were a dull and dispiriting bunch, but do you know what I liked about them?
- What?
- They actually said what they thought.
- What did they think?
- The usual: the European Union had lived too long on borrowed money, now had to save, suffer through austerity, and then begin again stronger and healthier. 
- And of course you think that is wrong.
- Of course I do. I performed this experiment on the bureaucrats. First, I pointed out that even for them there is nothing right or wrong in paying what you owe. The bankers and financial institutions don't do it themselves. They go bankrupt, or get their governments to subsidize them. Second, I told them they were acting on the belief that econonic policy based on "paying what you owe" is best for the countries which it is forced upon. Fifty years of economic history has showed conclusively, with 100% consistency, that this is false. 
- What do they say?
- The people who borrow and don't repay have to be taught a lesson.
- But not the bankers who borrow and don't repay.
- The bankers do, usually, repay.
- After they get the government to give them the money to repay with.
- Yes. And the European Union bureaucrats don't want to give the people the money to repay with.
- You tell them they're not being fair. What happens?
- They say something like, "life is unfair."
- They're hypocrites.
- Of course. And that's what's interesting: they know the economic policies they are pursuing will destroy the lives of the majority of the people they supposedly work for. But they excuse themselves by shifting attention to a moral principle, "pay what you owe".
- Which no one practices! 

8. Go Find Better Friends

- What's wrong?
- These students I've been staying with. They're making me sick.
- How?
- Do you know neo-liberalism?
- I think so. What exactly is it?
- It's something like Marxism. It says, this is god's world. It's getting better. Or it's getting worse, because we are ignorantly or perversely stopping the natural process of getting better. For Marxism, it was a transformation of one kind of economic relation to another, capitalism to communism. For neo-liberalism, it is the natural development of the free market.
- I take it you don't agree.
- I don't. People are attracted to these kinds of ideas because they've been damaged, and following these ideas they are kept unaware of it.
- What do you mean?
- People adapt to the expectations to other people, don't know what is really good or bad from their own experience. They don't make their own choices in anything important. They chose their diversions, their entertainments. The chose each other as entertainments and diversions.
- Diverting themselves from what exactly?
- The unpleasant truth that in everything important they do what other people want.
- You really believe that?
- Yes.
- What's it have to do with Marxism?
- Marxism and neo-liberalism settle the question of good and bad. Good is certain social and political arrangements: the free market, or the transition from capitalism to communism. And those political arrangements on their own, without need of human choice of direction, move towards improvement, get better. Humans don't need to use personal experience to make social arrangements better, all they have to do is make the automatic work in progress more efficient. This is a technical question perfectly suited to people who have experience only with this kind of professional, specialized impersonal decision making.
- I see.
- When the Soviet Union wanted to murder there wasn't any question of good or bad, only the question, would like action make the transition to communism more efficient.
- What's the alternative?
- Making the goal human happiness, not particular schemes of social relations.
- For example?
- Love, freedom, creativity.
- Ok.
- When these are the good things you want to have, and the government says it wants to murder, torture, operate secret prisons, perform secret abductions, bypass the legal process, you ask whether these actions, which may or may not be efficient as means, lead to achieving the actual ends aimed at, freedom, love, creativity. And the answer in the case of Marxism, neo liberalism is obviously they do not. But as I said, when the end you seek is assumed to be already achieved, and getting better on its own in existing social arrangements, good and bad is an issued settled in advance.
- You're saying that only when the end we aim at is general human behavior, not specific social relations, can the means we use to obtain that end be held to any standard of human behavior at all?
- That is exactly what I am saying.
- How does this relate to the students?
- Good and bad do not enter into their lives. It is all settled by the rules they follow in a thoughtless, happy go lucky way. They didn't care about me, they didn't care about themselves. Whatever happened, that was just the way the world was arranged.
- They were unkind. Heartless. Made you lose hope.
- Yes.
- You shouldn't stay with them. Even if you have no other place. It's wrong. You have to trust.
- Trust who? Trust what?
- You'll find something better. You'll find better people.
- Even in this neo-liberal world?
- Yes. You said it yourself. Neo-liberalism is not something new. It's just another religion. Go find better friends.

9. I Know It's Personal But Are You In Love?

- I know it's personal. But are you in love?
- In love, yes, with people who've parted ways with me.
- I'm sorry.
- What about you?
- A girl. Also a tragedy. Big tragedy. It took me two years to recover.
- She wouldn't come back.
- No.
- Why did you ask if I was in love?
- Your last two stories are about love.
- I shouldn't repeat myself like that.
- You asked me why I'm nice to people working this waiter job.
- It didn't fit with your saying you're going to be an accountant because you love money.
- It does. I've found 5 girls here since I began a month ago.
- I see. And you keep in role by being nice to everyone, even me, bring out tea for me when you see me standing making notes.
- Yes.
- Don't believe it. There's this theory I've been reading about, of 8 basic levels of life, from primitive desires and fears, to appeals to authority, rationality, compassion, then an understanding of how they all can fit together, some higher because they include the others and do more with them. I think you're a good guy despite the bad things you say about yourself. Some things we do connect deeper than others. But we know almost nothing about it. We can't even say better knowledge will not bring worse misuse of knowledge, connect fear and aggression to knowledge itself. That we can move to a higher level does not imply a continuing progress to history, or progress in our own lives.
- I don't really understand.
- Ok. Writing a story, talking even, is many things at once. It feels claustrophobic, it means being trapped with a couple ideas, ideas I can and do make logical mistakes relating to each other. Yet it feels open too because the ideas I'm hoping will lead me somewhere new. I am literally afraid of the whole thing. I am isolated from every human being on the planet while I do it, I am stuck in myself, not religiously lost in the whole, not completely rational following through a task at hand, not even having a good sleep. In other words, it seems to be a low level activity I am engaged in, but I can say without hesitation it is the highest thing I do. When it's over I level out as it were, feel fine and grateful to the experience, but by then I am not especially high up. I am not a higher order thing, the truth is I'm down on the level with an infant looking at his mother's face and smiling.
- I've got to go back to work. Stay and drink your tea.

10. True Stories

- Can I sit down?
- Yes.
- I'm surprised you're sitting here alone.
- Why?
- You're not doing anything. Not smoking, drinking, talking on the phone. A pretty girl usually wants company. Someone to admire her. You appear to be thinking.
- I've come from a meeting with my ex-boyfriend. Hadn't seen him in 3 months. It was good. We talked for hours.
- What happened?
- I loved him but he didn't love me.
- Why not? How could anyone not love you? I love you already. It's hard to believe. You told him you loved him. Of course. Was it not important to him? Were thousand of others telling him they loved him?
- No. It wasn't that.
- Did he believe you?
- Yes.
- You really loved him? Wanted to spend all your time together?
- He didn't want to.
- I see. When you don't do anything with love it's only attachment, a baby's clinging to its mother. Love brings on love only when it is real love and the loved knows how to love. You're better off without him. So what happened finally?
- I broke it off. Wrote a book.
- What did you write, the story? ideas?
- Yes. Both.
That's good. That's great. There's nothing better than that. I've done the same. Can't give your love to your love so you give it to the world. You're not waiting for anyone? I'm not disturbing you?
- No.
-I'll sit on this side of the table, look at you, think of my disaster and the book I'm going to write about it. You sit on yours - well, you don't have to look at me, - and think about your own stories. Or I can tell you stories. Disaster stories.
- True stories?
- True stories. Want me to? I am very happy to meet you.

11. Budapest, Hungary, Public Lecture by George Soros, November 3, 2011, The Central European University:
Question-and-answer afterwards. I as member of the audience make a suggestion:
- If someone like you supports the Occupy movement it would mean something.
- It depends on what direction it develops.
- Say general strike, and a call for resignations.
- That becomes counter productive. The trouble is, reality is very complicated. And people look for simple answers. And especially in moments of stress and fear everybody is trying to advocate his own self interest. And yet the European project requires cooperation. Cooperation is something you can achieve in times when there is hope and a functioning leadership. And at the moment you don't have it.*

* "And perceptions reflexively reinforce reality - belief in stability leads to arrangements reinforcing that stability, and vice versa." (George Soros, Reflexivity and the Theory and Practice of Social Change, 2011.
12. Budapest, Hungary, American Embassy:
- Do you need help filling out the papers?
- Sure, it couldn't hurt. What kind of papers?
- Visa application. Are you here to get a visa?
- They are going to take away my passport, so I may need a visa.
- Why are they taking your passport? Are you an American Citizen?
- Yes. When you apply for an emergency loan they confiscate your passport.
- Anyway you don't need a visa to your own country.

- What can I do for you?
- I saw on the Embassy's site that you provide emergency repatriation loans. I would like to apply.
- Are you destitute?
- Probably. What's the definition?
- No money to buy a ticket home and no way to get the money.
- OK.
- What?
- I fulfill the requirements. What next?
- You have to prove that you've made an attempt to get the money.
- How?
- You have to provide the names of 3 people you have asked and who have refused. Can you do that?
- Sure. There are billions of people I can ask and be refused.
- You have to put it in writing.
- I can do it.
- Give me your passport. We'll do a background check. Take a seat.

- My colleague explained something of your situation. I'd like to ask you for more information.
- You're the Vice Consul?
- Yes. You said you have no money. Can you tell me how this situation arose?
- Whole life story or shorter?
- Start with the most recent events. When did you arrive in this country?
- About 4 months ago.
- What have you been doing?
- Reading and writing. Not employed.
- Were you employed in the United States before you came here?
- No. Doing the same. Reading and writing.
- Do you normally live in Europe or the United States?
- For the past about 20 years, mostly Europe.
- With trips back to the United States.
- Yes.
- How long were you in the United States last time?
- About 9 months.
- Where did you live?
- With friends.
- And before that?
- Here. I was tutoring business executives in English.
- For how long?
- 4 months. And then United States again.
- Are you married?
- Yes. Possibly.
- Possibly?
- My wife disappeared, then wrote me that she'd obtained a divorce.
- Do you know you wife's name?
- What if I answer No?
- You don't know your wife's name?
- I'll spell it for you. Do you want to find her for me?
- We're the government but we can't do everything.
- You know, forget about the repatriation loan, just find my wife.
- When was the last time you saw her?
- A year, maybe year and a half ago. Look, is it true you're going to take away my passport if you decide to give me a repatriation loan?
- Yes, it is.
- Couldn't I use, just temporarily, the passport of one of the directors of Goldman Sachs, or General Electric, or Bank Of America? The government took away their passports when they loaned them $900 Billion after they lost all their money in bad investments. They took away their passports, right? They didn't?
- We're not open tomorrow, and over the weekend, and on Monday, an American holiday. Are you going to be alright?
- Probably.
- Where will you be going when you arrive in Los Angeles?
- I don't know.
- You have to provide an address. We can't arrange your travel without knowing you have a place to go.
- Why not?
- We are here to help.
- Are you concerned about my address here if I don't leave?
- We'll try to help.

- Before we can issue a repatriation loan and buy your ticket you have to provide an arrival address.
- I did.
- It can't be a hotel.
- Why not?
- It has to be your residence.
- It will be my residence.
- It has to be your own, or belonging to someone we can contact.
- It's a residential hotel. The address is on my driver's license. They know me there.
- Show me your driver's license. What is the manager's name?
- Betty.
- No. We need to be able to talk with someone who will be responsible for you.
- Why?
- We need to know you will be safe.
- Why? I'm not safe if I stay in Europe.
- As I said, you need to provide us the name of someone who will take care of you when you return to the U.S.
- If I knew someone like that would I now be applying for an emergency loan?
- Then we can't help you.
- How long would this person have to be responsible for me? My whole life? One year? One month? A week?
- Several weeks.
- And there is no explanation for this demand?
- I don't have to explain.
- Why not?
- It's the rules.
- It can't be. What rule?
- This conversation is over.
13. . Budapest, Hungary, Unpublicized 2012 Appearance By George Soros, The Central European University:
In an informal on-stage interview, Soros, in a reflective mood, admits that the numerous institutions he's funded to study the failure of economic thinking have succeed in demonstrating how economies fail, but not in discovering what to do about it.

The source of the problem, he explained, is relying too much on theory, on knowledge, and not on how our not knowing what to do makes us act in ways that change the world, which world we don't see because we expect it to conform to our theories. We need to be able to discard our theories when they are proven wrong, and we need to understand that no general theory is enough, because our actions are constantly changing the world we need to respond to and understand.

I said to him when he stepped down from the stage:

- You have divided human activity in two parts, theory, and manipulation. Theory doesn't work, and manipulation of markets is based on crowd behavior, that is, fear. But since ancient Greece, the parts to human activity have been divided into not two, but three: you have left out practical action.

Practical action differs from manipulation, fearfully following and leading each other, in that its end is making learning easier. It's purpose is outside of itself, in the part of life where we learn, where we find beauty, what makes life good.

Why not establish institutions that study how economic relations are practical: what forms of cooperation lead to a life of learning and freedom from manipulation, and which don't. And study how to make the transition from the present institutions based entirely on greed and fear to the kind we need to have. Do you understand?

- I have studied maximization of happiness.
- No, that's not what I mean. Counting results of fear based behaviors: doing that is living still in the world of the theoretical and the manipulative. We need to study how to cooperate, study what forms of cooperation help us learn to make our lives better.

Let's go, says George Soros assistant, urging him as she has been doing for the last few minutes as we talked. OK, I say, I tried.

- You remember me, right?
- Yes.

(The week before when I walked through the door of the University the guard said to me, Soros just left. Go talk to him. / Why? / Ask him for a job. I caught up with him and did. He took my card, passed it to his assistant, and said he was in a hurry.)
14. The April 6, 2006 edition of The London Review Of Books:
"The same Soros who gives millions to fund education has ruined the lives of thousands thanks to his financial speculations and in doing so created the conditions for the rise of the intolerance he denounces."
15. Budapest, Hungary, Award Ceremony, Central European University:

The former President and Rector of the Central European University today was given an honorary doctorate degree by the present President and Rector. The degree recipient said in his acceptance address:

Our universities are teaching a false economic theory that making the rich richer will also make everyone else richer, that free markets, absence of regulation and neglect of social services support democracy.

Everyone applauded. I didn't say anything. But what might I, and the others in the audience, have asked both present and past Rectors and Presidents of George Soros's University?

Why did you, in your 10 years as President and Rector, allow the false economic theories to be taught here? Why do the false economic theories continue to be taught? Why didn't you stop it? Why aren't you trying to now?*
hy·poc·ri·sy (h -p k r -s ). n. pl. hy·poc·ri·sies. 1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or  virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.

After he had spoken his few words and the audience was dismissed I went up to the former President and Rector of the University and said:

- Criticizing free markets - you realize you are in the enemy camp here.
- I've been there my whole life.

* "While noble motives are typically evoked in the context of ceremonial speeches, the university’s various stakeholders generally do not typically commit themselves to clear aims for their institution."- from the former President and Rector's upcoming book, The University In The 21st Century.
16. Budapest, May, 2012, Downtown:
- What happened with the email?
- What email?
- The one you got when you were at the cafe, that night, Friday.
- From the Israelis. Yes, I remember now.
- You didn't know if it was real.
- Yes. It was real.
- Good!
- There's a story behind it. Where are you guys going? The whole staff of the cafe is right here on this corner, on the other side of the city. Great to see you all.
- We have a minute, or two.
- I'll be fast. The theory, the best I have, why Israel turned friendly comes from a guard at the Central European University. He said Israel likes me now because I'm fighting the American Embassy.
- That's still going on?
- Yes. It's getting worse.
- How?
- Last week I visited the office of the President of the University one more time, a former Ambassador himself, and friend of the current Ambassador to Hungary, and left a message for him to try once more to get the Embassy to answer my emails and stop forbidding me to enter the Embassy.
- They forbid you to enter the Embassy?
- Yes.
- That has to be against the law.
- You'd think so. Anyway, yesterday at the University there was a series of lectures celebrating the history of friendly diplomatic relations between the United States and Hungary. I listened to the first for a while before I got bored, and later was on my way to the reception at the lunch break when I was stopped by a woman with a clipboard, who addressed me with these words:
- Mr. Miller! You can't go in.
- I can't go in? It's gratifying you know my name. I don't know yours. What is your name, what is your job exactly?
- Mr. Miller, this is not a joke. You didn't RSVP, so you may not be admitted.
- I am on the guest list.
- No you are not.
- Yes I am. Go check it out. I was placed on it this morning in person before my very eyes. I am an eye witness to the truth of my statement.
- I don't have time for this. Come back in 15 minutes and we can discuss it.
- No, I'm not interested. Thanks anyway.
- So they forbid you to enter the University?
- Yes. I'd noticed the extra security guards, not the University guards who all know me and discuss politics with me, the one's guarding the visiting diplomats, were looking at me strangely, were staring at me, in fact, so that was explained now.
- Why did they do it?
- Why did this University, founded by George Soros, and his Open Society Institute, forbid me entrance?
- Yes. Open Society Institute!
- Later in the afternoon, seeing the long face of one of the friendly University guards, I asked her what was wrong.
- There's a problem.
- Well, tell me.
- They told us not to let you in the building.
- I'm in the building now.
- Before, while the congress was going on.
- Yes, I know about it.
Then another friendly University guard offered the explanation: the American Ambassador had been there, and the Embassy was behind my banishment from Open Society.
- Wow. You really think so? The American Embassy stopped you entering the University to stop you talking with the Ambassador?
- Why not? They already block me from the Embassy.
- What about Israel then? Are they going to let you go there?
- It looks like it. That same last guard, it was his theory that the Israelis are watching me like the Americans, and they, being tough guys, like that I am a tough guy too and defy the Americans.
- But what did you do? All you did was try to visit the Embassy, your own Embassy, and when they didn't let you, wrote about them. And you say yourself almost no one reads what you write.
- No but the American Embassy is my most dedicated reader.
- You know that?
- The site records their visits. They don't hide.
- They want you to know they are reading.
- And I want them to know I know.
- That's insane.
- It's a game.
- But you'll be able to go to Israel.
- We'll see.
- Then good luck. See you at the cafe.
17. Budapest, Hungary, Jewish Agency For Israel:
- You're the other American.
- I am.
- They say you and me tell similar stories. Vicious Jewish families, disappearing Hungarian wives. They asked me if I knew you.
- They asked me if I knew you.
- Do you?
- No.
- They're processing us as a package deal.
- Yeah. They say they get a better price on the tickets, I don't know how.
- Me either. One way tickets, Budapest to Tel Aviv aren't expensive anyway. Maybe the attraction is not saving money, but double the result for the same effort. It makes it easier to justify to themselves the exception they are making, the Israeli Agency dealing with Americans in Hungary. It's a strange coincidence. Or maybe it isn't. When did you first come here, to this office?
- A few days ago. When did you?
- Two years ago. They told me to go back to L.A. I did, and a year later the Los Angeles office told me it would be immoral to help me go to Israel.
- Really? Why?
- They said I wouldn't be a success.
- But they've changed their minds now.
- Yes. Where did you get the idea from? To come here, I mean.
- From the Consul at the American Embassy.
- Of course.
- Why of course?
- The diplomats over there take an interest in my life.
- You mean they knew you had applied to go to Israel, and they sent me over to go with you?
- That's the way it looks. They forbid me to enter the Embassy, they send you over to Israel.
- They won't let you in? What did you do?
- I told them they were wrong. What did you do?
- They couldn't help me.
- The American government is too busy taking bribes from corporations, doesn't have time to deal with Americans anymore. Sends them over to Israel to handle. Anyway, it's good luck for me.
- Why?
- Because my application was stalled until you showed up. Two for one.

* * *

The Odeon Cinema, Officer Of The Jewish Agency, Chance Meeting:

- Have seen you the other American today too?
- No, but I just talked to him on the phone.
- It's hard for me, having a double of like that.
- You noticed too? It's strange.
- We're not really alike. Only our circumstances.
- What circumstances?
- American Jewish families that hate truth, love money. Seeking truth is part of the religion, but lying is more profitable. The conflict leads to extremes of behavior.
- They hate you two because you tell the truth.
- Yes, believe it or not. Maybe we learned to love truth more because they hated it.
- Not every American Jewish family is like that.
- A lot are.
- The whole world is moving that way.
- Yes.
- You could have stayed in the U.S. and looked for better people.
- I thought I'd have better luck in Europe. I did have better luck. Then luck ran out.
- Why?
- As you said, the way the whole world is moving, it's the way of the place I was trying to escape.

18. Budapest, Hungary, Reception Desk, Central European University:
- We'll miss you. We're like in prison here.

- And I your regular visitor, on my way in and out of the building.
- We've enjoyed talking to you, you know that. Will you go on talking to people about revolution?
- With University guards who say they are prisoners? I don't know. Is that how you see me? As someone who talks to people about revolution? Put that way it sounds futile. I like finding words to describe the situation we're in.
- You're lucky you can leave. We wish the best for you.
- Do you have time to talk, one more time, in the way you like? I thought maybe I was boring you with these conversations. That you would talk to anyone, that even being bored by a bore on his way out was better than being bored alone.
- No. We like you here.
- Alright. Lecture begins, last in the series, visitors on their way out, parting words. Title: Correlation And Causation. Do you know the difference?
- No.
- People who eat red meat have more heart attacks than people who don't. New Harvard University study. This place is a Harvard colony, you know.
- We know. The Rector, the lecturers.
- Yes. Red meat and heart attacks. That is correlation. When you start doing experiments to separate out other factors that lead to heart attacks, you get close to causation.
- I don't understand.
- It could be that people who like red meat also like to go without sleep, or are nervous, or aggressive, and any of these might be what is really linked to heart attacks.
- What's the difference?
- If you want to prevent heart attacks, and you don't do the experiments, telling people not to eat red meat will have no effect at all, if really the connection, the cause is aggressive behavior.
- I see now.
- Next: social life, success in career, works with correlation, not causation.
- You've lost me again.
- You know George Soros' theory of Reflexivity?
- Yes.
- When I talked with him a few days ago, when he was up on stage of the auditorium down the hall - were you there?
- For a minute. Then I had to go back to work.
- So maybe you heard him say the usual economic theories have now been proven wrong, it was irrational to continue to apply false theories. And how his own theory described only irrational group behavior, how in the stock market traders in good times followed each other in overconfidence, then reality hit and they followed each other in flight from their overconfidence.
- Yes. I know these ideas.
- Ok. Business operates by finding correlations: do this, and profit follows. Why exactly this happens is not known. To find out you'd need to conduct experiments. To be successful in business is the same: you do certain things, go to certain schools, dress a certain way, repeat certain formulas: doing this gets you the job, then in the job, you do the same thing, whatever works, without knowing why. Correlation, never causation. In the stock market you see this reduced to the simplest terms. Correlation need not reflect any real relation. The reason for confidence in a stock, or the market as a whole, may be, usually is, entirely false, a correlation, not a causation. Eventually this comes out and a downturn follows.
- Ok
- Good. I don't like this economics any more than you do. Really it makes me sick. But here's the point. Have you ever wondered why economists are always talking about efficiency?
- No, can't say I have.
- Well they do. It isn't because they are technocrats, because they have knowledge of technique. They don't know anything, as Soros said right here a few days ago. All they know are correlations, which almost always are sooner or later proven false. So what do these technocrats, technically educated people do?
- What do you mean by technocrats?
- I mean people educated at places like this University, teaching correlations without causation.
- Ok
- Efficiency for people who don't know anything means reducing complexity. It means eliminating the distance between causation and correlation.
- Again, you lost me.
- If you don't know why there is a correlation, you nevertheless know that as long as you can keep things the same, you keep the real causes connected to the false ones. If you are making money in the stock market, in banking, you will try to simplify everything else so as to make banking and stock trading go more smoothly, efficiently, without change from outside.
- And you say that is what economists mean by efficiency?
- You've got it now. Austerity measures, smaller government, lower deficits, all this means more efficiency in the areas where people making money are relying on presently unstable correlations. Let's go back to the Harvard red meat study.
- OK
- Harvard, the government all is funded by business, by professional associations. Let's say someone is making money factory farming chickens and pigs. We don't know why eaters of red meat get more heart attacks. But what if we can stop people being aggressive, nervous, afraid of being discriminated against on the basis of race, sex, nationality, age, income? We control, eliminate all other possible causes. Correlation will suffice, all will work more efficiently.
- But that's crazy.
- No! It's literal reality. And no more crazy that the last 50 years' imposition of so-called neo-liberalism, the long proven-false economic theory that unregulated markets works to the benefit of the majority and to the stability of democracy. This university, funded by George Soros' Open Society Foundation, teaching tolerance of all nations, ages, sexuality, races, religions is putting into effect the same kind of efficiency.
- Explain that.
- I used to think the problem with current politics is that the demand for tolerance, to see all ideas as relative, dependent on personal circumstances, had made people incapable of talking to each other, of caring about each other. Democracy was failing because everyone tolerant of everyone has nothing in common with anyone.
- And you don't believe that anymore?
- I never had confidence in the idea because I saw that, at least in America, people still liked strangers, truly liked them.
- What is the problem then?
- It is knowledge. Knowledge! Correlation and causation.
- And you are going to explain that to me.
- Yes. Do you know what it means when we say we rely on intuition?
- Yes. But I'd like to hear what you have to say.
- It means that we have noticed correlations in our personal lives - when we do this, that happens - and we have tested that correlation, acted on the relation, done experiments to see if it was a chance relation, or a real one. Over time we get a general, what we call intuitive sense of which kinds of correlations are likely to be real relations. But only because we have been actively testing these relations in our own lives.
- That's interesting.
- If you are a stock trader, a banker, a government official or a university founder, president, or professor, you make your living by keeping your behavior in role, keeping your role tightly correlated with other roles.
- What does that mean?
- It means you play by the rules. You have to to keep your job, to be a success. Adapting your behavior by personal experiments, looking for knowledge, not mere probably false correlation, will make you a cause of inefficiency in the organization, will cause everyone else trouble.
- I know that from personal experience. You have no idea what it's like to work here.
- I have an intuition. I know you are mocking me when you ask about the revolution, my political aims. I just write stories, find words. I've found new words, that's all, but for what it's worth, here they are: no matter how corrupt, idiotic, inefficient our governments are revealed to be, people can't do anything, can't respond, because they too have become like politicians.
- How?
- They are living in this open society. Society that is all correlation, no causation. Everyone has his type, his role, all is acceptable, open, all in fact as meaningless as red meat being correlated with heart attacks because no one is agressive, anxious, discriminated against anymore. Look at the dead faces of the students here. They rigorously study the correlation  between red meat and heart attacks. They follow rules, they're all ambition to make money and be a success, they create a personal efficiency by the elimination of all human qualities.
- You think so?
- Yes, I do. Personal investigation, personal development is punished by career failure, social exclusion. In fact, the Open Society leads to closed society.
- How?
- The ignorance it is based on is exposed, the false correlation revealed, by increasing social disruptions. The society supposed to be efficient above all else is revealed to be inefficient. Think about George Soros, the billionaire who founded this university. Efficiency policies result in monopoly, concentration of wealth. Efficiency creates billionaires. Billionaires monopolize property. Which means more and more people have no property. Democracy cannot function, no matter the perfections of institutions and efficiency, when people own no property and are in the conditions of slaves who can be forced by life or death necessity to do anything. This is a destructive influence enough, but monopoly of property inevitably leads to bribery. Or in the case of our open society times, to legal bribery, where bribery is seen as an expression of the personal opinion of the wealthy.
- How can bribery be legal?
- According to numerous Harvard and other University professors it makes democracy into an efficient "marketplace of ideas".
- Hard to believe.
- The open society leads to corruption, to legalized bribery; it leads to concentration of property and consequent slavery of the property-less, which leads to social disruption. Finally the open society, we see this happening now, leads to repression in the name of efficiency, and in some places, is leading to an attempt to return to the original role relations, the original ignorant correlation before outside influences, foreigners, and foreign trade disrupted things. When you don't know anything the best you can do is return to the conditions where things seemed to work better.
- You're talking about Fascism. Neo-nazis.
- It's the destiny of the open society. The invisible hand of economics. Which is no more than people who know they don't understand what they rely on trying to lessen the risk of their ignorance. The invisible hand of economics is the efficient protection of ignorance. Remember, I told you the story, I asked Soros when he spoke here another time to support  the Occupy protest movement? He answered that he couldn't. It was a disruption which would lead to more disruptions. He sympathized with the people's suffering, but efficiency was the high principle he worshiped.
- You really think he believes that?
- Yes. His two principles are open society, and efficient management of marketplace ignorance. Together they are a sort of religion, the invisible hand of ignorance protecting itself by monopoly and social repression. He's collected every type here in these buildings -  every variety of sexuality, nationality, age, race, each is in its cage, each incapable of communicating with the other types in their cages, each incapable of getting out of the cage by personal testing and experiment, incapable of looking for the truth. A zoo where there is no relation of red meat to heart attacks except the profit to be made by assuming there is one.
- And this is your good-by to the University.
- Red meat thrown to the cages!


Late 2011, Budapest, Hungary, Gellert Hill, The Citadel:

- It's quiet tonight. Am I right that something is happening? Some big change?
- What do you mean?
- Is the city finally going to take the Citadel back from the family? What really happened with the last family that had the place? What did they do? Really do?
- Sold drugs, ran prostitutes.
- And the boss was murdered, you told me.
- In the disco.
- What does the present "family" do?
- It's in the energy business.
- And you say they "control" the territory of the Citadel without a contract with the government, the city, which owns the land and buildings?
- Yes. Just like the other family.
- How?
- Can't explain.
- Influence? Bribery?
- Can't explain.
- This "family" holds the territory, operates their "energy business" from here. But no one from the energy business world seems to be around.
- That's correct.
- I am the only guest of the hotel.
- Usually.
- There was a taxi business when I first came here, a long time ago.
- The city shut them down.
- Why?
- Can't explain.
- Influence failed?
- My boss always fails.
- But they are still here, in control of the Citadel.
- They built a terrace in the courtyard - you can see it over there, the wood floorboards are rotting away - but the city forbid them to use it.
- Why?
- They say diplomats from nearby embassies complained about noise.
- Failure of influence again. And the new radio station here? What's that for?
- It costs them a lot. They have no advertising and 16 employees.
- And can't get a permit from the city. I've been following the drama. The police come, demand you stop broadcasting, you go off the air, then go on again immediately after the police leave. Then again. Then again. Then the police come, break down the door of the equipment room and carry out the transmitter in their arms. Then you set up broadcasting outside the city limits, still without a permit. Anything I left out?
- No. Sometimes I think this place is an insane asylum.
- Because all you guys here smoke and cough and smoke and cough, because  one of you complains operatically non-stop and the other swears non-stop, because you yourself say you can't stop talking with people you don't like? Because the computer programmer in the corner room smokes so much that when he comes out into the lobby he leaves a scent trail in the air, who's a kind of walking ashtray? What about me? How do I fit in?
- You're crazy too.
- To be staying here.
- Yes. No one understands you. I try to protect you, tell everyone you're from a rich family, are here until the estate is settled.
- Sounds good
- I thought so.
- Might even have a little truth to it. Did I ever tell you the story of the fake and real Rolex I bought at a pawn shop in Atlantic City when I was visiting my mother there?
- I don't remember.
- The story goes like this. Dozens of casinos send send their losers out into the street where dozens of pawn shops buy their jewelry so they can go back to the casinos and lose more money. One afternoon I thought to visit the shops and look at their watches. At the first I came to there was a Rolex copy in the window. The Russian immigrant working there placed it on the counter and opened its back to show me the movement. He'd been tricked into buying this watch, he explained. The movement looked real, he'd never seen a fake movement before. How much did he want for the watch? 200 dollars. Take 150? Yes.
- You bought the watch?
- Yes. When I came next time to Budapest I sold it to another watch dealer for 600 dollars.
- How?
- The movement was real.
- And you knew it.
- And the pawn shop didn't. Real movement in fake watch.
- Great story.
- It is what I like to think life is like at the Citadel. We've got the "family" parading around, visiting the radio station that isn't a business, the hotel where I am usually the only guest, you guys working here smoking yourselves to death out of nothing else to do, I'm here seeing this because I make it look like a hotel and in my isolated life other people don't hear about it from me and show up asking to stay. It's all fake, but it is a real castle, it is the best place in  Budapest, you and me are really here despite the fakery going on around us.
- Very poetic. Everyone is miserable here.
- Last night I was writing about Cain and Abel.
- From the Bible?
- Yes. Should I tell you what I wrote?
- How long will it take?
- One minute. Two, maximum.
- Ok.
- I'll be fast, fast. Here goes. Pay attention.
- Ha.
- The first humans were educated by God: they broke his rules, went adventuring, had children, created lives for themselves. The first human educated by humans killed his brother.
- Cain killed Abel.
- Yes. God's education was in breaking rules. Human education is about keeping rules. Cain was a farmer. He stayed put. He followed rules of when and what and where to plant. When he looked at the land he was reminded of which of his rules to apply.

When God did not accept his sacrifice Cain responded to God as he responded when a rule no longer applied because of change of weather: he simplified, uprooted the unrewarding rule from his world. If there is a rule, "Sacrifice to God / You'll be rewarded by his love", and no love is delivered, if you kill your brother whose sacrifice has been accepted the field is cleared of all sacrifice, nothing is growing there. Cain weeded Abel from his field.

As a shepherd Abel adapted rules to the terrain his herd wandered over. The land did not remind him of any set rule. Rules remained contingent. The story of Cain and Abel is about a battle between two ways of of applying rules, destructive and creative.
- You've written this down?
- Sure, not that anyone reads anything.
- Doesn't matter.
- Yes, that's the point I want to make. Write the truth in the midst of all the fakery, you're Abel living in Cain's world. You are the only guest of the "family" hotel at the Citadel. Down in the city when I tell people about where I stay I use the Italian word for family, "mafia". I hope they don't mind.
- Nobody is interested in you.
- I'm real taken as fake, safe so long as no one sees the reality and tries to profit by it.
- What good are you to anyone?
- Well, what good was it to Cain killing his brother? It was a symbolic act. And as we see at the Citadel the whole place is functioning as a symbol of the family's power, doing nothing else in fact. I am here only so long as there is no symbolic benefit in throwing me out. I am waiting for that time to come. It will, won't it?
- Yes. You know this place.
- 17 years since the first time I stayed here.
- Time have changed.
- The world is at war, economic, social war. Cain is out to eradicate Abel, out to weed him from his field. But, you know, history has moved on. Abel is more able.
- Abel is more able. I like that.
- Abel knows better, he can put into words just how the world is a war between those educated by man and those educated by god. He knows all the words thrown about around him are fakery, are all lies, gangsters' symbols of power. Education by man begins with killing a man, but proclaims itself to be education by god. It all about following rules and goes by the name of fundamentalism.

But education by God is something small and on the human scale, is the rule breaking and wandering life and goes by the name "humanism". God made humans, but humans make each other something else, something much worse,  something fake, something oversimplified, something "fundamental".
- It's been much more than one minute.
- My words wandered to a field where other rules apply.

V. Getting Fit

I was spending nights at the all night cafe. They liked me there. But they couldn't understand how someone like me had no money, no friends, no work, had nothing in fact. I did exercises, noted how strong and lean I was getting. I thought about Beatrix, my annulled Hungarian wife, remembered when she had finally decided she wanted to see me again after I had returned from Greece to Budapest.

I'd had to wait a couple of weeks. We met at the Deak Ference metro station near Macdonalds. Beatrix was surprised. Everything was as before, better than before. She said, "How can we be this way with each other after all the terrible things we say about each other?" I knew the answer. Because I knew the answer I could be with her. Because she didn't know the answer, and could not even listen to the answer, Beatrix was never long with me. I said:

- You think about things, and like the way I think. You want things, you want my company. But you put both thinking and wanting at the service of your ambition to be rich and famous.
- What's wrong with that?
- You should want to be with the man you have decided is best and work if at all to be able to do that.
- I should work to be able to be with you? I don't have to work for that. I can be with you, I can be with anyone.
- I know. You are so attractive. You've worked at making yourself attractive. I'll never get through to you.
- You're arrogant. You think you're better than me.
- I can't get through to you because you put reasoning and desire in the service of ambition. When I tell you it's wrong to do that you say my reasons are useless to you in getting what you want.
- I'm not a hermit like you.
- But you love this hermit.
- I love making him my slave.

So though we love each other it is only a matter of time before she is gone again. She was gone in a week.

An email arrives while I'm at the cafe. A way out I'd been pursuing has worked, possibly. The laws of Israel, not the people administering them, wish my presence there. Not because I'd be a success. The Israeli Agency has put into writing their belief that I was a certain failure. But because they've been pushed, by me and diplomats - people like me sometimes fall into strange company - they've relented. I've slipped through the cracks. The state was founded on the idea of home, of giving individuals a home. Not the idea a group be given a place to be ambitiously enlarged and made more productive. But that is what was happening there now, the views of me and my wife were at war there. I ought to feel right at home.

VI. Buddha In Budapest

I have just seated myself with my back against Buddha, in the Philosopher's Garden, high in the Buda hills above Budapest. Buddha is one of set of statues of people of the idea, life size in bronze, around what should have been a fountain but is only an empty basin. Some symbolism here I don't have time for. I've got a beer in my bag, I want to relax from the noise and pollution down in the city. A group of black booted, black military outfitted shaved head young men have come to inspect the philosophers. They are Neo-Nazis, parading through the city and attacking the weak. Stamped in my passport is my new visa to Israel.

I look into the eyes of one young man. He looks back. What is he thinking? The day before I'd had a conversation with a young Turkish medical student. She said:

- Something is wrong here. You aren't Jewish are you?
- Yes, I am.
- I lived in Israel a long time. Only Jews talk like you do.
- Is that a compliment?
- Yes. But you don't seem Jewish.
- When I was in Israel a couple years ago Israelis didn't believe I was Jewish.
- I understand.
- What do you understand? I'm Jewish, I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles.
- You are too gentle, too nice. Maybe you lived in Europe too long.
- You think that is it?
- Yes.

Does the Neo-Nazi see gentleness or niceness? He is looking for trouble. I look, he looks. Then he turns away and walks on, bored I suppose by the kindness he's seen. Good. I take out my can of beer, sit my computer in my lap, look out at the view of the city. Soon I will be gone never to return.


The government of Hungary has written into its new constitution what it thinks are conservative principles of family, religion, nation. The principles are conservative in the sense they seek to enforce obedience to rules and punish disobedience. The swaggering patrols around the city feel implicitly authorized by the new government.

This afternoon, scavenging paper and tape from a bulletin board outside a Tel Aviv market, closed for the Sabbath, a man asks me if those were my things, my book on the bench around the corner. I go over, yes, my computer, my Celine book. Was that his Terry Pretchert book? Yes, he's leaving it. I can have it? I was looking for a book by him yesterday. Israel really brings me luck. Good and bad.

- What do you mean?
- When I first came to Israel, I flew from Thailand. I was selected for special treatement by the Israeli security. That means a two hour search. The only others selected were two Israeli Arabs.
- Why did they choose you? You're American. You're Jewish.
- That's what the Israeli Arabs asked me.

When I left Israel, again I was selected for special treatment. They refused to allow my computer on the plane. They said because it wasn't charged, and my charger broken, they couldn't check it. Why did they have to check it? They do. A week later it arrived in Budapest. And a week after that it burned itself up. It was just a year old.

But then, good luck, maybe, returns with my return to Israel. On the plane was a man reading a book on start-ups. I speak to him as we are walking the passages of the Tel Aviv airport, tell him I have an idea he might be interested in. I sent him an email, and now it looks like he has succeed in setting up a team to work on the business.

- Is that what you do?
- No, I write stories. Teach English.
- What is the book you are reading?
- That is another story, another piece of good luck. Do you know Celine?
- No.
- French writer, 1930s. This is his second book. I bought it a couple of days ago at a used book store here. Celine's writing is full a mockery, hatred of human life, and at the same time regret that it has to be this way. The ugly little details accumulate at times into surrealist exaggeration. It's amazing. His realism, his hatred of human life of human beings making each other miserable. The American writer Henry Miller who was living in France at that time admired him. And that is what makes this copy special: see here on the flyleaf? Big Sur, USA, 1949. Big Sur, the "Big South", was at the time a fishing village in Central California. Henry Miller moved there in 1944, and later the Beat writers went there. This book was there too, and somehow found its way here to Tel Aviv. Finding it was my good luck. Did you know Celine became the most virtuosic anti-Jewish writer in all of history?
- No, I didn't.
- Celine hated human ways and manners, and history brought him, with the advent of the Nazis, a ready made theme. The Jews excluded others, enforced on each other obedience to their archaic rules: you never even got a chance with them. Just like every other kind of human being, only more so, and if not more so, at least more openly so, and if not more openly, then making a conspiracy about it in addition. Carrying this book in my hands, talking to people here, as I am talking with you, I keep seeing what is happening through his eyes. The people here are smart, they can talk, talk well, they know what they are doing, but they don't want anything to do with me. I feel the exclusion, I feel anger, anger on behalf of the human race. Like Celine, like anyone looking for the answer, for the way to live that is livable, I am always at a beginning, demanding the world allow me to get started on the real life I'm waiting for. I get angry when I can't begin. I understand Celine. Not to say I think he is right or I am right getting angry. I think he is wrong and I am wrong. I prefer to read the book you bring me, comedy, fantasy, kindness. Pratchett is kind. Do you know him?
- No.
- Well, I see you want to go. I know I shouldn't say it, but like everyone else I talk to here you seem to be counting the seconds till you can get away and don't have to talk to me.
- My friend is waiting. He teaches English, has more work than he can handle. Maybe he can send work to you.
- More good luck.
- And I wish you more to come. Bye.

Around the corner and half way down the next block a cat is crying to me from the half wall above the sidewalk. I pet her and she calms down. A few more cats appear from the bushes. We watch together as a car, after many back and forths, angles itself into the parking space in front of us. I say to the woman driver:

- This cat invited me to join her. I think she wanted food, but settled for my company. We've been watching you.

She opens the back door of her car, takes out a stack of disposable dishes, a bottle of water, and a bag of cat food. She arranges the buffet on the sidewalk and the cats feast.

- Don't tell me you always drive around with meals for cats?
- I do.
- You know, this book I am reading is a book of hatred. I can be a hater too. I was just talking to a man about this book and hatred. That didn't help, and here I am with the cats. I see all the children, the babies in their mother and father's arms. This city is really a city of children. I see all the cats, wild and taken care of. I get angry at my life, at being here, just another foreign country, having to be here, another place I don't belong, another place I can't even get a start in. Then I tell myself, the people are the end, it's always and everywhere all over with people, you can't begin at the end, you can't expect to begin at the end, stop expecting the impossible. Look at the cats. The babies. There is an opening. You've seen it yourself. You've passed through the opening. Why can't you remember? You must be getting old....
- I've got to go. My friends are waiting.
- I know! I know! I'll stay here with the cats.

(continued at The Tel Aviv Dialogs)