Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Here in Paris it is said that on any given day the average man entertains conflicting thoughts approximately 92% of the time. This, of course, renders decision making rather difficult.

 We call it Bousqué's Paradox after the famous French chemist who invented artificial sweeteners in the early 1920's. The story goes that Professor Bousqué was so torn between his wife and his mistress that after the age of 33 he became completely impotent for the rest of his life.

I too suffer from this dilemma but not nearly as much as my good friend David Schoffman.

Dissonance simultanée or what is known among American psychologists as synchronal dissonance is a very common condition among Jewish men. The dialectic tradition of the Mishna and the Talmud has hard-wired Hebrews into a permanent state of what is called "multiple empathic cognition."

On the one hand this - on the other hand that. 

The sad consequence of all this is that Schoffman is so paralyzed by indecision that he hasn't been able to paint a picture in over 15 years.

David Schoffman's last known completed painting. Oil on linen, 1998

His inactivity however does not occasion any sadness or regret on his part. Rather he finds in his indolence a tremendous source of comfort and an exhilarating sense of relief.

So what does he do with all his time, you may reasonably ask?

He's doing what every other person with a pulse is doing ...

He's screwing around with his laptop, his I-Phone and sharing every loose stool that comes into his ever-shrinking head on social media.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Franz Schoendt, date unknown
Friend of Freud and intimate confidant of Cassirer, Franz Schoendt knew a thing or two about the lively life of the mind. Largely overlooked today, this giant of Jewish Mittleeuropean culture
 was a highly regarded
feuilltonist in his day.

The scope of his concerns seems staggering today. In our age of hyper-specialization Schoendt seems much more than a third-string polyglot. He hovers like a dirigible looming from an Olympus of staggering erudition. He was a cerebral man at ease in worlds as diverse as the intricate stratagems of three-player Korean mahjong, the declensions of disabused, semi-deponent Latin verbs, post-Mishnaic agrarian litigation and the Russian Orthodox impact on sound pairing in early Zaum poetry.

(He has written extensively on all the aforementioned subjects.)

The most unlikely object of his sweeping inquiries (considering the fact that he was a lifelong diabetic), was the social and political history of candies and sweets. 

His seminal essay on the subject, Trockenobst ist wirklich Süßigkeiten? which appeared in the penultimate issue of the Hessian periodical Überflüssig Wissen was a dialectical tour-de-force and is still debated by confectionists on both sides of the Atlantic.

My dear yet strange friend David Schoffman has taken it upon himself to create two-hundred short video vignettes illustrating Schoendt's most important essays. After tackling the 1924 article Andalusischen Pfeifer and the 1931 prose poem Mythischen Aromen, David has just completed a personal homage to Schoendt's daring speculations on the taxonomies of dessicated apples, pears, apricots and grapes. 

Monday, August 11, 2014


Fear, like most intense and irrational emotions, can be a source of intense erotic opportunity. My dear friend David Schoffman is afraid of most things but he reserves his greatest terror for flying on commercial airlines.

Gripped in a paralysis of calamitous foreboding, Schoffman pleads with flight attendants for extra pillows, stiffer cocktails and if possible, an exit row window seat which might afford him a small degree of illogical comfort.

At the prospect of becoming choked with panic, David suddenly experiences a kind of corpuscular lift. Reality melts away into an oily mush of sensuality and a feathery trill of anticipation floods what can only be described as his 'inner Tantric soul.' 

"The problem," he explained to me with mock innocence, "is that I simply don't know what to do with all this strange and powerful energy!"

Such foolishness would never  be tolerated even in the most mordantly sentimental adolescent but somehow Schoffman's stature avails him an undeserved immunity! 

America's fascination with famous artists is something that is beyond me. That he goes around filming young women's toes with his I-phone - all under the protective aegis of aesthetics - is a scandal that would bring down even the most insulated French politician.  

But I suppose at the end of the day it is all rather harmless. The painted female toenail - an undeniably lovely phenomena- is an unworthy catalyst for any man's demise.

On the other hand, there does appear to be a pattern.