Sunday, September 22, 2013

In The Tent, Beverly Hills


(from Beverly Hills Stories)

- Then what?
- We can make war the basic relation between people or we can make peace. There are precise techniques worked out for doing both, though the techniques of war are what we are more familiar with.
- What are the techniques of peace?
- Last night I went with a friend of the Beverly Hills Guru to a celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacle, something like that, a Jewish holiday where you eat in a tent. Doctors, speculators, talking about their possessions. One guy talking about dying. What is one to do with this? We talk about basic human relations, meaning here that behind all the concern with possessions, of owning one's own dying and death even, is the fundamental relation of mutual hostility. You cannot share the doctors' and real estate speculators' possessions any more than you can share that other fellow's death. You cannot do anything with them but propose exchanges. You cannot talk about anything except in relation to building up castles of possessions as safety from the fundamental danger each confronts the others with. You cannot express any liking without that liking entering into a calculation of how it can fit in with a life of defense against the danger of other people. All that is lurking behind the small talk. It never goes away. The Beverly Hills doctors and speculators go under the tent roof and celebrate the good life. I'm there, invited by a speculator, introduced by the Guru, but am considered only long enough to see whether the fortifications are secure against danger I might present. This is what life is supposed to be in this place I was born and raised in, the best the technology of social war achieves.
- And the techniques worked out making peace the basic relation between people?
- Peace is a practical concern, is a tool, a product of politics. The basic relation between people is desire, liking. Rules manages that liking to create peace. Liking has to be managed.
- Why?
- We have to educate each other to like what is best. We are not born with the knowledge.
- That education is the technology of peace? The technology of good?
- Yes.
- Couldn't you educate the Beverly Hills doctors and real estate speculators?
- If they could have seen me, or anyone else even for a moment as a possible friend. The fact is they can't. They can't get past their fundamental expectation that relations between people are those between enemies.
- Teach them.
- As their enemy, teach them?
- Everyone is their enemy. Be a friend. Teach them friendship. Tell them stories. Show them another kind of life. They're your people, after all.
- My kind of story to them is a fairy tale, a tale of the world that cannot be recreated in the unchallenged hierarchy of warfare they build their lives on.
- Then what?
- Then foundations collapse.