Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Lower Depths (4) "Call A Thief A Thief"

(read the beginning here)

- You saw he was wearing a hat tonight? And a new watch?
- Yes.
- And he says he threw out my hat and gloves and book because they were luxury items.
- Why did he do it?
- His story now is he wanted to shake me up. In other words, an act of violence. Violence is justified only in self defense. Usually it is in unjustifiable defense of a self image. That is what he was doing.
- What image?
- Wise and holy man, agent of god's will. God wanted him to destroy my hat and gloves and book.
- He says he will pay for them.
- We'll see. You know the street guy Ron?
- Yes. The guru says he's adopted him.
- He looks like he wandered into Beverly Hills from forty days and forty nights in the desert without food or water. Beard down his chest clotted with bits of grass and dirt, clothes rags and tatters, probably not taken off for months, years is not impossible. He walks up and down Beverly Blvd, from Ralphs at Doheny to Starbucks at Robertson. He's a good customer of both.
- He pays?
- Sure. He has money from the Guru. You should see it. "What drink can I get started for you, Sir?" they sing out to him at Starbucks. His smell extends about ten yards in all directions. Everyone pretends nothing unusual is going on. Same at the deli counter at Ralphs. "Can I help you, Sir?"
- No one says anything?
- No. I said once to him, "Congratulations on your purchase!", but no one laughed. Isn't the adoptive Ron the double of our Guru? He wanders up and down the same street, doesn't sleep on the sidewalk but at a Beverly Hills apartment a few blocks down, changes his clothes once a week, not once a year, but commits radical crimes against expectations of public behavior, gets away with it hardly noticing any consequences. The same thing accounts for both of them.
- What?
- Money. Nothing matters anymore but money. At Starbucks, at Ralphs, here at the Guru's million dollar apartment, no one can say a word as long as payments are being made and received. There's a rule of silence.
- He says he will pay you back.
- We'll see.
- Are you going to ask him for it?
- Break the rule of silence?
- What's the point? You know he's crazy.
- The government is bribed by corporations, economic conditions are created that force people to speechless conformity. Everyone has his excuse, everyone is pressed by the conditions created by everyone. If individuals are going to have a chance to remake their own lives on a different basis they'll have to break the rule of silence. Public manners are preventing change, so public manners have to be challenged.
- What are you going to do?
- Call a thief a thief.

(continued here)