Monday, August 19, 2013

The Girls (a story of revolution) 23

read the beginning here

23.

On the road, suburbs of Tel Aviv, Israel

- Anyone know where we're going?
- A strip-club. Called "The World's End". Dabby's choice.
- I've a friend. A regular there.
- A girl? Likes to see girls empowering themselves, dancing naked.
- How long before we're there?
- 40 minutes, Prof.
- Dabby's told me about her friend. You'll like the story.
- He was the subject of my first film, I was still in school. My friend: about 50, an Orthodox Jew. Sometimes he visited the prayer house we were at, that's where I saw him first. He was giving away money. I was standing across the street. I needed money, was desperate, thinking I'd have to work as a stripper. I struck up a conversation with him.
- Is he there to save the girls, or what?
- No. He was a customer, when his friends paid. Wait, I'll get there. He told me he'd been out of control, was saved by a rabbi. Now he tried to be a good man. He liked the neighborhood, he prayed, meditated.
- Where?
- Sitting against the wall, in the parking lot.
- Of the strip club.
- Yes.
- And giving away money.
- 30, 50 dollars, its equivalent in Israeli Shekels, every day.
- Where'd the money come from?
- Family investments.
- In what?
- Bus tours. He asked, what about me? I told him. He offered me a few dollars.
- And you took it?
- No. I saw him looking at my big military watch that'd belonged to my brother.
- Where's your brother?
- Another time. I asked, did he want to buy it? He did. But could only pay 20 dollars every few days.
- So you came back...
- And got to know him. He gave away so much money that he started borrowing the money back from me, five dollars, ten dollars.... And pay that back too, keeping exact account of the balance always. He did the same with others too.
- Wow.
- I got his permission to film him. I went around to his home, where he lived with his 80 year old mother, I filmed him speaking to his desperate clients, sitting outside the strip club, I filmed him in the club with the girls, when his friends took him in with them.
- Dabby's career was made by the film.
- I wasn't thinking about that then. I was fascinated. I was studying the place of women in society, the place of religion in society, I was studying filmmaking, and this man brought it all together for me. I set up the camera, sat down next to him against the wall. I asked the first question.
- You sit here, meditating, praying. You give away your money. Then you go watch naked girls dance. You don't think that's wrong?
- I don't drool over them. I don't pay for sex.
- Why do you go then?
- I relax, be with my friends. I can control myself.
- You are strong through prayer and meditation. You're not harmed.
- No.
- What about the girls? Don't you think you're harming them?
- I don't touch them.
- Do you think dancing naked in front of strangers doesn't harm them?
- I talk to them, when I go outside to smoke. It's just a job to them.
- And when they go home from the job. Do you think the job doesn't affect them?
- It affects them.
- And you are relaxing with your friends while the girls have to give up their privacy for money, knowing that later, at home, they will have to work hard, maybe fail, to recover themselves as individuals, to be a friend to a friend, daughter to a mother. And you know that your meditation and prayers gave you the strength to do it. Sorry for this, but you know, I'm a student of these things. Can I be hard on you? Very hard?
- Yes.
- The Nazi's liked to play Beethoven's late string quartets after a long day of killings at the extermination camps. How is that different from your prayers and meditation followed by the self controlled visits to dancing girls degrading themselves? Aside from being trivial in comparison. Are your prayers and meditations making it easier for you to be bad?
- No. They saved me. I was destroying myself.
- That was then. Now, how are you using them? Are the prayers real, if they make it easier for you to hurt the girls?
- How do I hurt the girls? I look at them.
- Having no choice but let strangers look at them like that hurts them. You know what I'm talking about.
- The prayers are real. But I'm not perfect.
- I believe you. You really are praying, meditating. I want to ask you a question.
- Ask.
- Are you meditating on your own story? Or someone else's?
- I'm trying to be good. I come here to meditate. I feel peaceful here.
- Good and bad meditation will get you some peace.
- There's no bad meditation.
- There is. Good meditation helps you remember what's good, help you do good. Bad meditation helps you forget what's good and do bad.
- How?
- Bad meditation is imitation. You play the Beethoven late string quartet, throwing yourself into the role of one player playing with the other three players. You forget yourself. The role you play is not your own story. You go back to work refreshed to do some more killing in the extermination camp. Your personal life is not part of your meditative prayerful music, and not involved in your mass murder. The other kind of meditation, good meditation, involves your personal life, and allows you to be at rest with it. Do you understand?
- No.
- There a line in Shakespeare, goes something like this: Let war breed peace, peace avoid war. The Nazis' Beethoven assisted meditation, maybe your meditation, is not a kind of peace that prevents war. It a kind of peace that leads to war. Understand?*
- No.
- You got nowhere with him. I want to see this guy.
- He'll be there. First we go to war...
- Leading to peace.

* It is a tradition of Indian spiritualism that ordinary life is experienced as: you, the world, and the relation between the two. Mystical experience removes the relation, leaving only you, and the world. In mystical experience the world is experienced with detachment. In one variety of mystical experience rituals, acted out or merely imagined, draw your sense of your "self" into a role practiced. This "ironic" identification, of your true self to the role practiced, allows you to deny the relation of that ironic self to the world. Relationship is gone. That is the bad meditation. The good meditation does without even an ironic sense of self. Instead, the memory of good actions you've taken that have led in to you allowing yourself to forget yourself persists, are included, as a feeling of good memory, with your detached appreciation of the world. 

to be continued