Monday, October 4, 2021

The Netanyahus

There’s a hysterical scene in Joshua Cohen’s The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family. It’s about an academic in the 50s, the only Jewish member of the English department of an elite Upper New York State University. Ring a bell? Ho, ho. Goodbye, Columbus, shades of Roth, Malamud? In any case the in-laws have arrived for the Jewish holidays and the problem begins when Sabine the matriarch cries out, “Walter, it’s a suitcase—you don’t put a suitcase on a bed where you sleep. You know how dirty suitcases are?” “No, how dirty are suitcases?” her beleaguered husband responds. We put our stuff in them. How dirty can they be?” “They’re clean inside and dirty outside,” Sabine rejoins. “The opposite of you. Everybody knows this. Have you ever met anyone who cleaned the outside of a suitcase?” To begin with the exchange has epistemological significance. If you peel “the suitcase” of inquiry you have an onion with “appearance and reality” on the first level, with the unpacking of the suitcase jumping to the question of the unconscious. Sabine and Walter are arriving with their "baggage," as they say in psychobabelese. The mixture of profundity and hysteria of this “large consanguineous cast” continues since the cream the Sabine and Walter have acquired in a Chinatown herb shop to shrink their granddaughters nose (in lieu of rhinoplasty) has spilled all over the clothes. Sabine in a state of high dudgeon is depicted “pulling out clothes from it like she was pulling out tissues from a box to stanch a cry of mourning.” All of this is orchestrated to the sound of Walter’s constant farting with the toilet exuding “a final throat-clearing flush.”  “They’re ruined,” Sabine croons, like Irene Papas in Medea, “All ruined” before crying out to her husband “you’re a pig!” Brilliant. More will be revealed. Read on.

Read "The End? Or the Kiboshing of Liberal Zionism," HuffPost

and catch Stevie Wonder's "Love's In Need of Love Today"

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