You say that I fail to tell the whole truth about you, or me, or you and me. I am not in possession of the whole truth on any of these subjects. Nor do I have the whole truth on the subjects of Erin Zhu’s ever-loving daddy or Baudelaire’s bad glazier. Still, the show must go on. Let us take these matters in turn.
As regards our defunct romance, I am telling my side of the story. You have every right to counteract it with your narrative, either oral or written. That you would never dream of doing the latter, that you would even lack the courage to do the former, is quite beside the point. You say that you value your privacy. That has not stopped you from stalking me through the thicket of online exhibitionism dating back over fourteen years. Knowing what to expect, you had asked me not to show your letters in public, and I have abstained from doing so. But you never asked me to keep all aspects of our relationship to myself. Had you done so, I would have refused either the promise that you requested or the relationship that you sought. Under the circumstances, I rely on my sole discretion to choose the matters of my disclosure. I do so because I regard our story as amusing and instructive, and because the extreme nature of your performance warrants and requires an equally dramatic response. Make no mistake: you are as much of a performance freak as you accuse me of being. I see no moral difference in the facts that you stage your performances in intimate settings, and misconstrue them as sincere and accurate expressions of your inner reality.
You object to being depicted as a rotten peach. In a culture that no longer ages its meat or ripens its fruit, not everyone can be expected to partake of the Oriental wisdom that the best time to eat a peach is when it is beginning to rot.
As regards my alleged fondness for fighting, it is nothing of the sort. I did not enjoy hurting you because I sought to relate to you in ways not founded on pain. I enjoy hurting the Zhus and WebEx because they have threatened and menaced me, and refused to make amends for doing so. My enjoyment stems not from fighting my adversaries, but from overcoming adversity. The first thing my father taught me about fighting is to make a fist and aim at the face. The differences in toughness and sensitivity of these organs ensure that the equality of action and reaction works out against the face, to the advantage of the fist. No doubt, growing up without a father has gotten in the way of learning this lesson for Min Zhu. But it does not excuse his attempt to rest on whatever he can get away with in dealing with my claim against his family and his company. Least of all does it warrant the expectation that I would fail to reciprocate in kind by showing my ability to get away with making Min Zhu miserable in perpetuity, by exposing the aspects of his character that support my account of his terrorist threats. I do this in order to protect myself. I do this in order to win. I enjoy doing this because returning the insult is the best outcome available under the customs and circumstances. In view of Min Zhu boasting of his fighting prowess, the entire spectacle could be put to rest with pistols for two and coffee for one. Unfortunately, not only is this resolution out of fashion; in dealing with the present class of adversaries, it would only earn me a bullet in the back. Our issues could also be resolved with an apology. But that is not forthcoming from people dead set on getting away with whatever they can. The adversity remains. I have no problems with that. You have no basis for objecting to it. Indeed, given your constant protestations of disinterest in my affairs, you never had it.
Your tale of not being able to stop thinking about me in China contributes nothing to the satisfaction of your claimed goal. I am still not interested in being anything like a friend to you. Since you ask, I am not anything like a friend to any of my exes. I simply avoid dealing with most of them, except when they ask me for inbetweenies, and I decide to accede to their wishes. Otherwise, it bears observing that the predicate for any relation more intimate than civility no longer exists. In your case, I have made a special effort to keep it alive unto the last moments. If you are looking for someone to blame for the outcome, look in the mirror.
Georges de la Tour, The Penitent Magdalene, 1638-1643.
Oil on canvas, 133.4x102.2 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Similarly, your complaint about my avoidance of life fails to convince. Over the three years of our relations, I have delivered a comeuppance to a billion dollar corporation and its degenerate principal. I have buried my father, I have paid his debts, I have taken care of my mother. I am finishing a book nineteen years in the works and developing the material for a lifetime of followups. In the meantime, you have spun your wheels and accomplished nothing, terminating one responsibility and walking way from another. You have not as much as been willing and able to stay in one place to try and make something out of yourself. The only times that I have seen your eyes light up, is when I have plied you with enough alcohol to make you forget your self-loathing, or when you have prodded me into overcoming my reluctance to dole out the sadistic abuse that you so desperately crave. If anyone between us is running away from life, it is not me.