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The far left’s discomfort with Jewish identity

Philip Weiss, a casual friend and often an ideological nemesis, has a fascinating, typically disturbing post about Jewish identity on his blog, MondoWeiss.

In his magazine articles and his blog, he has been asking very provocative, often necessary questions about American Jews and Israel. As a result, he has become an increasingly important figure to those who feed on vitriol about Zionism and the Jewish people, some of whom regularly post comments on his blog.

    The Jewish Anomaly

This particular screed presents Phil Weiss’ reactions to a YIVO lecture by Michael Walzer, the eminent political philosopher, entitled “Are We A People?” His brief summary of Walzer’s thesis:

Jews are a people in a way that no one else is a people. We are both religion and nationality. That identity comes from God’s covenant with our people as recorded in the Torah, and is at once a religious and political self-definition. We have obeyed the same laws for a long time, and this has made us a Jewish nation, irrespective of whatever I or any one else has to say about it. “There are many nations, but we are one among them. And we are also a religion… We inherit a religiously inspired culture.”

Being both a religion and a nationality makes us an anomaly. We’re like the French but unlike the French we do not include Muslims and Catholics. And we can be members of the French nation but not the same as other members of that nation. “Jews are French, English and Russian with a difference.” We have been a “nation” for a long time. Jews may be comfortable and prosperous in America, but: “we are not simply at home.” Being full citizens in a stable democracy is a relatively new condition for Jews, and “we can’t be entirely confident about its permanence, Jewish history is full of warnings.”

Now the existence of a Jewish state, Israel, “makes things even more complicated.” We are connected to Israel, “to another place, to another geographical place and and a different history… this makes us different from other Americans who do not have these connections.”

Our anomalous status might make the world uncomfortable, but the world should just get used to it, Walzer said. There will be accusations of parochialism and disloyalty. We shouldn’t try and deny the anomaly so as to be liked; we shouldn’t be critical of ourselves. We should embrace the anomalies.

“We need not make excuses.. We have a simple position to defend. It isn’t that hard for our neighbors to live with our differences. We are what we are and we need to make a secure place for ourselves in the world.”

Phil indicates he was impressed by this lecture. But he also lets loose with a torrent of complaints. He is deeply disturbed by Walzer’s embrace of the Jewish people. He seems to harbor a kind of all-inclusive hostility to any expression of identification with that maddeningly hard-to-define entity calls “Jews.” Here’s one example:

The parochialism left a sour, tyrannical feeling. Walzer, having appeared on the scene as a liberal, has late in life occupied more and more the life of Judaism. Some of this is to his great credit as a scholar. He learned Hebrew in his 50s. But the orientation is defiantly particularist. He is not interested in Judaism as a universalist religion, as the anti-Zionist rabbis and liberal theorists offered it to the world. He doesn’t really want to share.

He presented it as a good thing that Jewish novelists are writing for Jews, unlike Bellow and Malamud. I repeat that statement because I find it so shocking. At a time when Jews are more prosperous and comfortable than ever in history, the community is to be congratulated for turning inward. In celebrating this, Walzer seems essentially conservative.

This is, well, a shocking statement. Later, there is a more reasonable argument against the political expression of Jewish nationalism. But he seems to be disturbed not just by Jews who support Israel or the occupation or American military interventionism; he has a problem with the very act of “turning inward.” He is alienated by efforts to develop and define a shared Jewish community, by American and other Jews who try to speak to each other about Jewishness, by any act of separation.

You can tell how upsetting this intra-Jewish communication is to Phil Weiss by the exclamation point in his post’s title: “Michael Walzer on Jewish Identity: Jewish Writers for Jewish Readers!” How dare those contemporary Jewish writers reflect on the Jewish experience in a manner that speaks to other Jews instead of everyone else?!

Another version of the same complaint:

Walzer’s exaltation of our “anomaly” as American citizens seemed a little complacent and self-congratulatory, and blind to the anomalous status of other citizens with historical vectors of non-Americanness. Indians, say, or Mexican-Americans. No: our difference was being sanctified here…

How dare American Jews be “self-congratulatory” or have any ethnic pride of any kind?! What do we need this for? We are already successful, well-established Americans who could easily discard our Jewish identity. How dare some of us choose not to disappear completely into the undifferentiated muck that Phil seems to prefer?! Shocking!

    Anti-Semites and Universalists

Hostility to Jews who voluntarily search for and reinforce Jewish bonds is quite common on the far left, including the fans of Phil Weiss’ blog. It is not necessarily anti-Semitic, this assault against Jewish clannishness. Phil is a sweet, compassionate guy, a self-described “alienated Jew,” and I know he does not harbor hatred for Jews per se. But there is less difference between this attitude and classic anti-Semitism than he might think.

Sartre wrote brilliantly about Weiss’ mindset in 1944, in Anti-Semite and Jew. He called those who rejected Jewish parochialism and embraced only universal values “democrats.” Stay with this. It is worth reading. You’ll recognize many of the people who now frequent the neighborhoods of the blogosphere that focus on Israel and the Jewish lobby:

The democrat…fails to see the particular case; to him, the individual is only an ensemble of universal traits. It follows that his defense of the Jew saves the latter as a man and annihilates him as a Jew…

Taking this point of view, he fears that the Jew will acquire a consciousness of the Jewish collectivity. His defense is to persuade individuals that they exist in an isolated state. “There are no Jews,” he says. “There are no Jewish people.”

This means he wants to separate the Jew from his religion, from his family, from his ethnic community, in order to plunge him into the democratic crucible whence he will emerge naked and alone, an individual and solitary particle like all other particles…

This is what,in the United States, is called assimilation…For a Jew, conscious and proud of being Jewish, asserting his claim to be a member of the Jewish community without ignoring on that account the bonds that unite him to the national community, there may not be so much difference between the anti-Semite and the democrat. (emphasis added by DF) The former wishes to destroy him as a man and leave nothing in him but a Jew, the pariah, the untouchable; the latter wishes to destroy him as a Jew and leave nothing in him but man, the abstract and universal subject of the rights of man and the rights of the citizen….

The anti-Semite reproaches the Jew with being Jewish; the democrat reproaches him for willfully considering himself a Jew.

When Jewish tribalism manifests itself in the expansion of West Bank settlements or the dehumanization of Palestinians or the justification of flagrant human rights abuses, of course it should be denounced. When right wing Jews in Brooklyn and Los Angeles finance Israeli fanatics who take over Palestinian homes in Hebron or Silwan or East Jerusalem, they are not only acting immorally; they are adding fuel to a fire that is not in the interests of America or Israel.

And if there are American Jews in positions of power and influence whose loyalty to the Jewish people and Israel over-rides their loyalty to the United States, the American Jewish community should wholeheartedly and publicly reject them.

But, fortunately, there is another version of Jewish parochialism that should not leave a sour taste in Phil Weiss’s mouth

    The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

Identifying oneself as part of the Jewish people is an expression of a simple, deep-seated human yearning for community, for ties with those outside of ourselves. What is wrong with that? Do Weiss and his fans believe that Americans must feel a sense of solidarity and a connection only with other Americans? Followed to its logical extreme, their suspicion of Jewish bonding and American Jewish concerns about Israel leads them to an exclusive nationalism, an America First and Last mentality that is characteristic of the far right that they otherwise detest.

Just about every thoughtful, politically engaged person I know –whether Jewish or not– often feels like he or she is in America but not of it. If you are not alienated by the air-conditioned nightmare of this 21st century culture, where people are glued to daytime reality T.V. shows in which grandchildren accuse their grandparents of sleeping with them, there is something wrong with you.

To most American Jews, the quest to define their Jewish identity and find solace in Jewish community is one way to remain sane and whole. To many of them, it also involves an embrace of principles rooted in ancient texts that, in fact, were the first to articulate many of the values that Phil Weiss and the modern left also embrace, including the injunctions to welcome strangers, pursue justice and “seek peace and pursue it.”

Much of my own Jewish identity is defined by an effort to fix what is broken in Israel and Palestine. This effort involves participation in a global community of progressive Zionists who are fighting settlement expansion, urging the Israeli government to stop taking steps that could preclude a 2-state solution and trying to build alternatives to the conventional pro-Israel lobby in America. If the price of building a community that can achieve those ends is a certain amount of parochialism, I’ll pay it.

    Occupation and Alienation

To be fair, much of Phil’s hostility to Walzer has an explicitly political foundation,and is based on anger about Israeli policies and the conventional Israel lobby that I and many other Jews share:

The talk was not very political….Given his lack of politics, and interest in religion, Walzer can embrace the irreligious in Jewish life, but he doesn’t seem to have any place for the unnationalistic… He briefly mentioned the critics of Zionism in American academic life. He said they were hostile and alienated, and he thought this a bad thing.

As I am part of that alienation, I felt there was a blindness on his part in the lecture to the contradictions in his nationalist definition. Those who feel it a moral crisis that Israel has created an apartheid state in part of Eretz Israel, as he continually referred to a territory for which I would have a political designation: Palestine…He did not deal with Breaking the Silence’s utter demoralization, as soldiers serving in the Occupied Territories and casually abusing Palestinians– all moral lines removed in the name of a security state. He did not mention the words occupation or Palestinian…

My response:

First of all, I sit on the Americans for Peace Now board with Walzer. We’ve exchanged perhaps 30 words in the last 15 years but,although I barely know him, I can testify that he has long been opposed to the occupation and upset by the same human rights violations as Weiss. I don’t know why he didn’t deal with the situation on the ground in his lecture. Perhaps it was a mistake to leave it out, but the fact is he has not ignored it.

His positions on the conflict are nuanced, not easily summarized. He has defended some Israeli military policies with arguments that are mortifying to many on the left. But the following quote from a 2003 interview in Imprints, a British journal, should indicate to Phil and his acolytes that Walzer is hardly a man with political blinders:

I recently published an article in Dissent, ‘The Four Wars of Israel/Palestine,’ explaining my position, which I will try to summarise here. These are the four wars: there is a Palestinian war to destroy and replace the state of Israel, which is unjust, and a Palestinian war to establish a state alongside Israel, which is just. And there is an Israeli war to defend the state, which is just, and an Israeli war for Greater Israel, which is unjust…

…Palestinian terrorism, that is, the deliberate targeting of civilians, should always and everywhere be condemned. And Israeli settlement policy in the occupied territories has been wrong from the very beginning of the occupation. But this second wrongness doesn’t mitigate the first: Palestinian attacks on the occupying army or on paramilitary settler groups are justified – at least they are justified whenever there is an Israeli government unwilling to negotiate; but attacks on settler families or schools are terrorist acts, murder exactly.

So this increasingly parochial political theorist believes that Palestinians using violence against the Israeli military are fighting a “just war.” Expressing that statement would get him tossed out of more than a few American synagogues.

Again, I barely know this man. But when he cultivates his Jewish identity, he is obviously engaged in the effort to balance the universal and the particular that has always characterized Jewish experience.

Does Phil Weiss think it is impossible to balance the two if one cares about Israel and feels part of the Jewish people?

22 thoughts on “The far left’s discomfort with Jewish identity

  1. Kol hakavod! Really outdid yourself with this one, Dan I just read the Weiss essay and share your concerns about it. Still, he seems like a reasonable, somewhat confused, completely assimilated man trying to figure out his place in the Jewish landscape, or whether he wants to have any place in that landscape. What’s going on in Israel and the territories now can make it hard for someone like that to have anything to do with Judaism or the Jewish people. I understand that. If I didn’t have family in Israel, and some of them weren’t protesting the route of the wall and trying to “fix what is broken,” I would probably feel just as alienated by Israel and the Jews who have anything positive to say about it.

    But the comments! Some of Weiss’ “fans” are reasonable; others are filled with such anger against Jews that it is scary. One person compared us to a “swarm.” As one commentator wrote, I want to take a shower. Don’t they realize that they are keeping in Abe Foxman in business?

  2. I also read the comments. And other things he wrote and the comments on them. Anyone who argues with those people about anything, they accuse him of bing from Likud (which I don’t think is such a bad thing, but that’s another story). Or they accuse that person of being “thought police.”

    They have their own tribe. Anyone who doesn’t think the Arabs have some responsibility for our mess and who blames only the Jews is part of their tribe.

  3. Dan – This is a terrific blog. Will return regularly. I only hope that Philip Weiss is reading it too.

    Indeed, the comments on his website are a bit creepy.

  4. Stan,

    Thanks for the kind note. I know Phil has read it. I am in touch with him. Let’s see if he responds. I hope everyone who is celebrating Pesach will have a sweet one.


  5. So none of you see anything wrong with any 18 year old Jewish kid from Brooklyn having a legal right to move to Jersualem but an 18-year-old Palestinian in a refugee camp whose family was there for generations having no right? That’s what all of these “bonds” and “common ties” and feelings of connectedness with the Jewish people have created. Please spare me your quest for Jewish identity. That quest led to ethnic cleansing in the late 1940s and a racist, exclusivist state ever since

  6. Salvo, the state of Israel was founded out of a mixture of voluntary choices and actions taken because there was no alternative. It wasn’t a quest for identity that made my grandmother drift into Palestine from Poland in 1948. It was a quest to stay alive and find a home, and there was no place else to go.

    The Zionist pioneers before the Holocaust also weren’t doing it just because they had a vision of a “new Jew.” They were also doing it because they knew Jews needed a homeland of their own to stay out of danger, and they weren’t safe anywhere (at least in Europe).

    You call what happened “ethnic cleansing.” I won’t even argue with you although I don’t think that’s an accurate description of what was a population transfer during a war that Israel did not want. Even if what you call it is accurate, the State of Israel is here. It’s a fact. You are mad about the voluntary part of it and I understand that. But why can’t you move on? Why can’t you just accept that there was a conflict more than 50 years ago and the Arabs lost, and now both Jews and Arabs need to move forward and help Palestinians get their own homeland?

    I think what Dan Fleshler is saying is that the modern Jewish quest for Jewish identity shouldn’t be allowed to create more suffering for the Palestinians. Don’t you agree?

  7. Dan,

    First of all, chag sameach. Terrific piece! As you know, I discussed this in a recent writing of mine:

    Alex Stein recently made a brilliant point when he stated that the classic dichotomy in the contemporary Jewish world is between particularity and universality. Jews have fought over the notion that one should not be too particularist (I care about Jews as a group) or too universalist (I care about all groups of people except for Jews). As a progressive Zionist, I do not see that there has to be a choice. I agree with Stein when he states that…his primary concern is for …Jews all over the world but also cares for others as well. He goes on to say that caring for your family does not preclude you from being concerned with the well-being of your neighbors.

    As I have mentioned to you before, as a gay man and as a Latino, I get lauded for caring about my own people. Others would look askance if I didn’t care about them.

  8. I think I was there when Walzer made this quote (if he said it last week). It sounds belligerently in-your-face when read as an isolated statement. As Dan indicates, Walzer is very much a dove when it comes to Israel-Palestinian issues, although he may be losing patience with the constant drumbeat of one-sided attacks on Israel.

    Walzer touches upon the uniqueness of Jewish identity — in that ethnicity or culture and religion are intertwined. It may be possible in post-modern America to be exclusively ethnic or cultural in one’s Jewishness, or exclusively religious, but most Jews maintain or profess elements of both. Although I disagree with his basic thesis, Tony Judt had it right in a way; yet it’s not the State of Israel that’s “an anachronism” but rather the Jewish people. We are the product of a much earlier age. Alone among ancient peoples in the Western world, we’ve retained both a particular ethnic and a religious identity.

    We survived the Roman conquest to live as a distinct people in diaspora, and virtually alone among the peoples of the world, we’ve also retained our “indigenous” religion — conforming to neither of the two great “universalistic” faiths, Christianity and Islam. This has caused us no end of grief, but it’s also been a legitimate source of pride in our stubborn ability to survive and still to contribute disproportionately, despite our meager numbers, to the material advancement and cultural achievements of humankind. We occasionally cause ourselves embarrassment or shame, but we have many more things to be proud of.

  9. Chris, you have mentioned that “as a gay man and as a Latino, I get lauded for caring about my own people. Others would look askance if I didn’t care about them.”

    But you left out an equally compelling point: when you try to tell people that certain things offend you as a Jew, they don’t hear you or take you seriously. But when you comment about what offends you as a gay man or a Latino, no one dares to ignore you or question you. At least that is how I understood your perspective on these issues.

  10. J-boy,

    Why can’t I “move on?” Because the “quest” for Jewish identity in the United States created a Lobby and a community that supported Israel every step of the way and lets it gfet away with anything it wants to, all the time. I know everyone here will shout at me if I start describing the atrocities Israel has committed. So I wont’ describe them. But because of the lobby and your community, the US. ignores them.

    I keep reading that “most” American Jews don’t agree with AIPAC. But only a few of them are like Mr. Fleshler, who tries to fight them. Why? Because you are afraid of hurting your “Jewish community.”

  11. Dan,

    Sorry I left that out. On the Engage website, I have a piece called “Be Quiet and Listen” about this very matter. No one on the left would ever tell me to be quiet or silence me, even if they wanted to do such a thing.

  12. Salvo,

    The quest for Jewish identity has led people to different places, not just around Israel. I think your characterizations of the Jewish comunity are unfair and frankly bigoted.

    First of all, AIPAC is not the bogeyman. I hate their tactics but they are lobbyists. They do what lobbyists do. I am getting tired of some on the left acting like AIPAC are the Elders of Zion.

    Many of us are fighting them. How do you know that only Dan–who is pretty great–is only one of a few doing this? I go toe-to-toe with members of AIPAC often. I think their stances are wrong and are hurtful to all in the region, including Israel.

    So please do not characterize Jews in your biased, negative view.

  13. Chris,

    Please show me one example of “bigoted” comments. It is true that I am angry about the way the American Jewish pro-Israel lobby has helped Israel do whatever it wants to Palestinians. And I am angry that the pro-Israel lobby pushed for disgusting war in Irag. And I am angry that people who worked for the lobby were Clinton’s Middle East negotiators. I am not blaming all the American Jews. Just the ones responsible .

    I know I am in the “lion’s den” on here but I am trying to show all of you how many people like me feel.

  14. Some may want to read this.

    As a non-Jew, I too am very angry with the way Israel influences my government so as to render me – a tax-paying citizen – an accomplice in the atrocities that it commits in the Occupied Territories.

  15. Great post, Dan.
    It is painful to admit it, but there is truth in what Salvo says. Unconditional support for Israel has become for many Jews an article of faith, and chief sign of identity, indeed the sum total of their faith, and in that sense an “avoda zora” (idol). My first reaction is, “Well, that’s our business, not yours.” But then of course I have to admit it is his business, too.
    This is not a subject that can be dealt with in one little blog comment. In brief I would say that religious zionism has done a good job of selling itself as “the Jewish religion,” but in reality it is no more THE Jewish religion than Christian Zionism is the Christian religion. And it is ridiculous to claim that Zionism is the same thing as Judaism, as is done both by mainline Zionists and antisemites.
    On the other hand, Dan is completely right to emphasize that real Jewish identity is something vastly wider than being limited to supporting the policies of Likud and the neocons.
    As for Phil Weiss, I think Teddy, the first commenter, has it right. “he seems like a reasonable, somewhat confused, completely assimilated man trying to figure out his place in the Jewish landscape, or whether he wants to have any place in that landscape. What’s going on in Israel and the territories now can make it hard for someone like that to have anything to do with Judaism or the Jewish people.” That’s exactly my impression.
    What I DON’T understand is why Weiss doesn’t monitor the comments better, and why he virtually never answers comments himself. (A few months ago he said he was starting to do so, but if this is the result, he’s not doing a very good job.) In effect, Weiss is allowing a very nasty crowd to parasite a good portion of his bandwith for their own conclaves which, apart from being nasty, have little if anything to do with his posts. This has the further effect of making it very difficult for commenters who would like to engage in serious discussion. When THE MAJORITY of commenters on a blog are trolls, something is wrong. Although they’re not quite trolls, either, because to be a troll implies you’re in the minority.
    I read a lot of blogs, and it seems that every one, aside from having its own voice and style, attracts a particular crowd. Some draw commenters of an amazingly high level, some just the opposite. Phil’s posts, although controversial and provocative, deserve better. What exactly is wrong there? I’d be very interested to know what you think about that specific question, Dan, since I know you have commented there.

  16. Chris,
    You say AIPAC is not the bogeyman, they’re just a lobby.
    I don’t really get your point. If they are not the bogeyman, why are you fighting them? Who is the bogeyman?
    Maybe what you mean is that there are other lobbyists equally bad, like the military-industrial complex lobbies and the oil lobbies? Or lobbies of their best customers like the American Turkish Council? Bad in the sense of having inordinate influence with the government. Yes, that is true.
    The problem is that ATC and AIPAC ARE part of the military-industrial complex. The corporations have their lobbies and the customers, like Israel, have theirs.
    Due originally to the influence of Christianity, more recently to state nationalism, the culture of the western world is programmed to see “the Jew” behind all its own negative aspects — thus externalizing all negativities. In fact, the bad guys among non-Jewish Europe have a long track record of using Jews to “front” for them, and the Jews who do so are richly rewarded. They cry all the way to the bank.
    We Jews have had many centuries to learn how this game works. One of the most disturbing aspects of AIPAC to Jews and others who care about Jews is the fact that groups like AIPAC do such a great job of impersonating the “Elders of Zion.”
    Of course they are not the only ones doing this and of course their views are not those of the majority of American Jews, but as Jews we have to be particularly concerned with a group that goes out of its way to identify itself as THE Jewish lobby and is richly rewarded for fronting for the entire military-industiral complex, the oil lobby, and the House of Saud.
    That Jewish identification of AIPAC makes it extremely difficult, as we all know, for non-Jews to criticize them. As we also know, it is difficult for Jews to criticize them as well. But it is becoming increasingly clear to the Jewish community, I think, that we MUST counter AIPAC, because they really are a danger to Israel and Jews everywhere, and also because it is our responsibility. So, yes, they are as much the bogeyman as anyone, but for Jews especially.

  17. Itzkl wrote:
    Itzkl wrote:

    “I read a lot of blogs, and it seems that every one, aside from having its own voice and style, attracts a particular crowd. Some draw commenters of an amazingly high level, some just the opposite. Phil’s posts, although controversial and provocative, deserve better. What exactly is wrong there? I’d be very interested to know what you think about that specific question, Dan, since I know you have commented there.”

    I am not sure the trend of uninformed, virulent nastiness and whacky conspiracy theories about the JOOS is peculiar to Phil’s blog. Look at any post about Israel on Huffingon Post or Daily Kos or, for that matter, Haaretz, and similar comments with a similar tone can be found.

    I have been trying to come up with something original to say about the nature of rhetoric on the blogosphere and what needs to happen for productive conversations about the Israel lobby and the Middle East to take place in the digital universe. Haven’t come up with anything yet. If you or others have ideas, Itzkl, I’d love to hear them.

  18. It’s not peculiar to Phil’s blog, except considering what Phil’s blog is supposed to be. Look at Silverstein. Look at Loewenstein, Karon,, Muzzlewatch. And of course realisticdove. None of these have anything like that situation, and all have mainly interesting, productive, and more or less relevant comments and discussions. I don’t think I’m being naive.
    What to do? We all know the basic axiom “Do not feed the trolls.” But this is way beyond that. I’m not saying that because I disagree with them. I’m saying it is mainly a dynamic of antisemites and those who look for antisemitism as the conformation of their brand of Judaism. I don’t believe either of these groups are the audience Phil is trying to address, and their comments basically have nothing to do with whatever it is he’s trying to say.
    What I suspect is that every blog worth reading has lots of lurkers. When the comments are engaging, this draws them out, encourages them to participate. Then you develop a good comments “tradition.” When it’s just a lot of hostile ranting that has nothing to do with the posts, this discourages the lurkers, and they contiue lurking or indeed stop reading the blog. In other words, dialogue encourages more dialogue.
    Many years ago — for reasons I need not go into now, but which had to do with working “on the road” — I had occasion to spend New Year’s Eve reading Sherlock Holmes stories in a fleabag hotel in Chicago. My window looked out on a narrow inner courtyard or large airshaft. After dark I was surprised to hear the voices of solitary drunks yelling unintelligibly at each other out the windows; this went on for hours,intensifying as the night wore on, then they started throwing things, mainly bottles. It was amazing how many bottles they had to throw. There was a certain kind of warped comradeship, the comradeship of isolated drunkards. There are some notable exceptions, but that’s essentially what most of the comments on Phil’s blog remind me of.

  19. Itzikl,

    Marvelous simile.

    As I started dwelling amidst these people in his former NY Observer blog, the experience was akin to reading a graphic novel or watching a Quentin Tarantino movie, with people who were grotesque charicatures of public intellectuals, stick figures, cartoon characters.

    Or maybe a better analogy would be listening to a Tarantino movie with one’s eyes closed, hearing wierd and dessicated voices but never quite knowing who they belonged to…

    But some of them were more reasonable or at least more educated. Gradually, I got to know them and learned a little more about them, their characters became a bit more fleshed out, even the stick figures. I almost miss some of them –Brenda, Pearlman, Rowan Berkeley…

  20. Yeah, I know what you mean. Actually, I liked Brenda, but she seemed to have some reservations about you…
    By the way, what I wrote — that should have been “confirmation,” not “conformation.”

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