Sunday, May 11

Of Paupers and Kings: The Pauper King

The amethyst on my sister’s finger. When i asked her why she bought it, she told me it was with her own money. A truly bourgeois reply. For a bourgeoisie there is no higher virtue than work. If he only works and makes money, then he has attained to every possible felicity, every possible good, and all his striving is at an end. Like taking a dip in the river Ganga, it absolves him of every sin past and future. It is the same with her. Just because she has worked for it, and it is her own money, she thinks she can spend it as she pleases, on whatever she pleases, and no one can call her greedy, no one can call her vain, as no one has a better claim on it than herself. And if you try and tell her that hospitality is said to be the highest virtue to which the householder can attain, so that her money would have been better spent on a simple beggar than a mere bauble, she will scoff at you. She will not understand that those two stations are complementary to each other and that one is placed as spies upon the other, upon their greed, their pride; moreover, that sometimes kings and gods move about amongst men dressed as ordinary beggars, watching over them and feeling their pulses, like a physician, so that they apply to them “not for alms, but for repayment of his due.” She will say, What due? What kings? What gods?

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated the...