klein: cats running with the pack

Like a cat running after any mouse that happens to stray within view. That first reflex, the first nature in the human being, is unavoidable and inalterable. It can be mastered, it can be conquered, but it remains. But mind can triumph over matter unlike say the animal. Whether our hunting and killing of fellow individual is a primary emotion to which we are susceptible or a learned behavior closely related but not predominant is not clear. Or important.

Image: Norman Nodel.

Once, during an after dinner discussion at the royal palace of Saladin in Egypt, Maimonides,the royal physician to Sultan, asserted that only the individual can change their character,while the animal world could not. An animal could be trained, but the transformation would be of the the shallowest variety since instinct is the preponderant characteristic of the non-human. A person can change, albeit painfully, though the first reflex would always remain, which is actually very profound; the left hander forced to convert to the right hand still retains the force of his natural hand for example. With some fanfare, pomp and ceremony, one of the Sultan’s anti-Semitic advisors marched in holding a cat, and spotting an opening to disprove Maimonides, he stated his case that he could transform the cat into a waiter for the sultan meaning that the cat could change into another entity that would behave contrary, or against its basic nature. The implications were that camels could cut lawns and plant flowers, dogs could harvest dates and goats could fish and so on. Before demonstrating in front of the sultan, the advisor with a few colleagues complicit with him, gave a demonstration to Maimonides that was quite impressive. Maimonides was stunned but held fast to the idea that it was impossible.

Alain Delon. Mr. Klein. 1976. Image:http://www.toutlecine.com/images/film/0006/00063399-monsieur-klein.html

Maimonides went home, his own state of mind “perplexed.” The next morning he woke up late, and remembering the meeting with Sultan and cat, grabbed his tobacco box which he had forgotten to close and ran off to the Palace. The cat duly performed his routine much to the delight of the grinning and clapping advisors. Completely discouraged and at a loss of words, Maimonides opened up his tobacco box for a smoke. Unbeknown to him, a little mouse the prior night had crawled into the box to sleep on a bed of tobacco. As the lid opened, the frightened mouse jumped out of the box, scrambling  and leaping between the dishes on the table.The cat, who had performed admirably to this point, chucked the desert platters he was holding and bounded onto the table knocking dishes and glasses helter skelter in pursuit of his own meal. End of story.

But the human being is different. As different as ego and id. A prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Shamir one notoriously said, “The Poles imbibe anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk”, a sort of inverted form of biological racism. And he insisted on this remaining in the record despite the protestations from his attaches. It was an irregular, very emotional statement of inner feelings. Shamir’s own father was stoned to death by his own villagers, of which many according to Shamir had been “his friends from childhood.” Was this a first nature to hate to the point of murder, that nihilism is in the human DNA or was this a perversion, a second or third nature as template over something a little more garden of Edenish. Shamir saw it as a first reflex.

—Now the advisor was also a remarkable animal trainer, and did indeed succeed in training the cat to walk on its hind legs, to hold a little tray in its paws, to wear a costume of sorts, etc.—Image:http://sc.jeffco.k12.co.us/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=165415

In the movie Mr Klein (1976) by Joseph Losey, a war profiteer eventually ends up being investigated by the Nazis. The film tends to ramble with some of the half baked excesses of fils at that time, but it is a Paris set holocaust thriller with some good sequences. Klein, is involved in the black market in the way of the lucrative business of cleaning out the assets of  rich Jews before they are packed off to the camps.As fate would have it,  Klein himself is mistaken for a Jew as a result of  a bureaucratic mix-up. So, he is administratively a jew looking square at deportation and death.

—On the designated day, Maimonides arrived with only a little box. The Sultan and his court seated themselves. With great fanfare the advisor opened the door and in walked the cat—costumed, on two legs, with a tray of delicacies in his paws.
The Sultan looked at Maimonides, who, still smiling, opened his box. Out ran a mouse. The cat immediately dropped the tray, went down on all fours and began chasing the mouse all over the great dining hall…—Image:http://www.weeklyvolcano.com/entertainment/spew-blog/2011/07/In-a-Nutshell-The-Worlds-of-Maurice-Sendak-exhibit-south-hill-library-puyallup/

The tricky part is at the end, where the real Klein cannot be found, and the Nazis, needing a jew to complete the dossier, find a surrogate to send off and finish the task. Shamir’s argument of mother’s milk comes into play since some French were upset that a jew got off and a Frenchman was sent in his stead. They failed to see that the greater injustice was not the inability to find the accused but the larger persecution to which it was a part of, and in some respects continues to exit in all its glorious pretenses in defining the other which has been catastrophic today with regard to the Arab world, our new Semites of choice, and the enduring hatred of Israel as proxy that are still guilty, not of involvement in the prophet’s death but in being The Chosen. Losey’s film is still pertinent because we still haven’t gotten rid of our worst second natures.

—In March 1933 the lawyer Michael Siegel, who represented the Uhlfelder Department Store, went to the police and complained after the SA took Max Uhlfelder, along with a number of other Jewish businessmen, into
“protective custody” in the newly-opened Dachau concentration camp. The Nazis responded by beating him brutally, then forcing him to march through the streets of Munich wearing a sign sayi

#8220;I will never complain to the police again.”—Leo Beack Institute…


—At 17 she emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine, and dedicated to the building of a Jewish homeland, joined Haganah, an underground Jewish military organization. Despite her diminutive height (4’7”), she served as a sniper and a sharpshooter. Says Dr. Ruth of that interval:
When I was in my routine training for the Israeli army as a teenager, they discovered completely by chance that I was a lethal sniper. I could hit the target smack in the center further away than anyone could believe. Not just that, even though I was tiny and not even much of an athlete, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades too. Even today I can load a Sten automatic rifle in a single minute, blindfolded.—Read More:http://www.bellybuzzonline.com/celebrity-veterans/2011/3/28/dr-ruth-westheimer-israeli-army-1945-1948.html


(see link at end)… an art dealer who exploits the situation in his country by buying cheap paintings from fleeing Jews, who are mostly looking to get just enough money to escape the increasingly restrictive Nazi regulations. Klein is indifferent to those he exploits, caring only about his own luxurious life, until one day he receives a Jewish newspaper addressed to him. He realizes, soon enough, that there is another Robert Klein in Paris, a Jew disguising himself as a collaborationist Frenchman, and he becomes obsessed with ferreting out this other Klein, this mirror image alter-ego. This, in turn, attracts the attention of the Vichy police, who become suspicious of this Klein as well….Read More:http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.ca/2011/08/films-i-love-54-mr-klein-joseph-losey.html

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