Monday, October 28, 2013

The Zalavary Family

Dear runaway wife,

I am in Budapest. I go to the new California Coffee Company cafe at the Basilica every day. A girl there told me the story of her big failed love: she got so that, despite her strong love, she was afraid to say anything to him, afraid of his angry response. That is exactly how I was with you. I miss you, I don't miss my fear of your anger. Maybe you can understand.

I don't miss your family. At one time they were a large part of my life, as you know. Now they have all told me they don't care about anything you do, especially anything you do with me since they consider that story over. Here is how I choose to write about them at the moment:

"Evil is giving up the good way we have learned of acting with others for the sake of what we do not know and cannot explain: the emotional mystery of what we feel but do not understand, the security and relief of being in a group. We don't understand the group's ideas (they are props to future action, not genuine reflections on the past), we only know the rules necessary to follow to be in conformity and feel safe. We do not understand our fellow group members, only know how we must act with them. We have suspended human feeling except in accordance with rules, a behavior which is called sentimentality, emotion self-produced at demand. It is imitation emotion, the real thing requires knowledge.

"In the practice of evil, we move from knowledge to ignorance. We betray what we know for the sake of participating in what we don't.

"My wife's family in the countryside get along, they co-operate. They regularly shout at each other like maniacs, yet keep to the rules of the house, doors slammed and objects thrown, but nothing more. They tell me they betray one another and their friends, forming temporary alliances then breaking them off when a better opportunity presents itself.

"I think of the Zalavary family, each in their own rooms in the two houses in the country. Robbi in the attic room down the hall, working on his movie and music file sharing service, answering emails, taking care of the computer servers. Music plays as he works. Beatrix my wife is down at the parent's house, helping her mother cook, or talking with her father. They talk about everything in her life, myself included, everything about myself even body parts according to her. He usually is to be found in the narrow cave-like room off the living room. He is there with headphones on watching music videos or downloading movies. I never see either mother or father eat, they don't do more than take tastes of the family meals I was often invited to sit down to with them, but as they both have imposing and growing bellies they must be eating sometime.

"Akos, the older brother, lives in Budapest with his school teacher wife, and spends occasional weekends here in the country too. He is a telecommunications engineer, and is considered by my wife to be aligned with their mother against her. She, Robbi, and their father were the other side. The difference of views is in how much it is desirable to play by the rules. Their father has outwitted the world, worked mostly from home his entire career, writing up reports of his periodic testing of the electrical safety of television broadcast studios. He is independent, and takes advantage of it to mock the world, enjoy anarchistic music, read up on whatever his scientific curiosity leads him to. Their mother cooks and gardens. A third brother Marco had been trouble, but is currently away from home working in England.

"They, wife included, like me as long as it costs them nothing. That this is not a human way to live I also know. Love with a lot of unhappiness is better than unhappiness without love, and I am always more or less unhappy when I am without love. So I stay. I have decided to stay to the end. Until the time when either costs arise from my presence, or the benefit runs out, when I begin to get in the way of other more profitable opportunity. It is a fairy tale house I live in, a house of monsters. In my defense all I can say is I like fairy tales enough to accept living with monsters."

(from Beatrix Zalavary)