I have always felt that people look on me as an outcast-that the simple request for a cup of coffee elicits a slight tightening around the eyes. I have always felt like an outsider; and I am sure that the suspicion that I perceive is the suspicion that I provoke by my great longing to belong.
I would like to live a life free of constant self-examination-a life which may be ruled by the processes of guilt, remorse, hope, and anxiety, but one in which those processes themselves are not foremost in the mind.
I would like to belong to a world dedicated to creating, preserving, achieving, or simply getting by. But the world of the outsider, in which I have chosen to live, and in which I have trained myself to live, is based on none of those things. It is based on observation.
The habit of constant acute awareness can be seen in animals with no recourse, with no option to fight, with no margin for error.
It is the habit of one completely dependent on the vagaries and good will of his environment. It is the habit of the young child. Historically, it is the habit of the Jew.
As children of immigrant Jews, we are spurred in our need to observe by the memory of old humiliations, of old indignities. We are spurred by the learned and enforced pleasures of isolation and reflection.
Trained to live by our wit, to live on margin-trained not to assimilate, we have found useless the virtues of compromise with our environment. And so our lives are a fierce attempt to find an aspect of the world that is not open to interpretation.
True to our past, we live and work with an inherited, observed, and accepted vision of personal futility, and the beauty of the world.