That's Why They Call It Dialectic

Rose had known Jerome only in the first sixteen years of his life, when he’d sometimes follow his father Chaim in his tours of Real’s Pickle and Radish, where Chaim was a heavy investor. In truth, Chaim Kuhnheimer had been more than an investor – he was Solomon Real’s silent partner in the business, once Kuhnheiemer had shifted capital from his dry-cleaning operation to rescue Real’s Pickle and Radish from the worst pit of the Depression, when Solomon’s preferred ingredients weren’t consistently available and the product declined. Such mental clutter, yet Rose supposed this was why she attended funerals now: to let these recollections come. Chaim Kuhnheimer had been a tall man, stooped by effort and the weight of his beliefs, but handsome. A superb capitalist and also a fiercely committed Party member who studied Lenin’s The State and Revolution like it was Talmud. In fact, in alternation with Talmud, for he remained also a fiercely committed temple elder, a contradiction she argued with Chaim Kuhnheimer until she’d argued into his bed, in which place, after their sole dalliance, the argument continued, never to be resolved. That’s why they call it dialectic.

Jonathan Lethem’s most recent books are a collection of writings, The Ecstasy of Influence, and a monograph on Talking Heads’ album Fear of Music. “That’s Why They Call It Dialectic” was excised from the novel Dissident Gardens. www.jonathanlethem.com