To Mary Eleni Temkin Copeland

Subject: To Mary Eleni Temkin Copeland
From: Dvorah
Date: 16 Apr 2015

You have always exaggerated your own importance in the world – you do this with your weight, your loudness, your bullying. You have done this equally with me. FYI, the way you treat people is not a reflection on them, it is a reflection on you. You treated everyone the same way. Your actions define you. You seem to think that because you acted towards me in a certain way that it defines me, and that everyone in the world should do the same. That is just another aspect of your arrogance and self-aggrandizement. As if you have to prove you were justified in acting so horridly. As a child I endured you in silence. I suppose you interpreted that as cooperation. I will never be silent about it again.
In fact, you were a very minor part of my life growing up – a negative part, but a minor part. I was a good student and my teachers all liked me and encouraged me. People saw that I was a quiet, respectful, bright, good-natured person and treated me accordingly. I was in advanced classes and my peers were the best and brightest. They were all really nice people and their parents welcomed me in their homes - I spent more time with them than at home.
There were particularly kind to me because of the situation at home. I was part of the Juno Street group of kids who all played together - games like running bases, punchball, handball; I was always first picked because I was good at sports. You were not a part of it. I was in the drama program in high school. My poetry was published in the yearbook. I never got into trouble. I saw no reason to rebel against the things that were important, like school. I was always accepted into every artistic community I made a contribution to – artists, musicians, actors – my peers, including my teachers and the business end all treated me and my work with respect. Encouraged me. Supported me. I was considered brilliant and a genius. Held up as an example of growth and creativity. So you see, despite how negative you were the positive influences in my life were very powerful and it is those that I refer to when I think about what life and relationships are about. I guess that is why you are unable to manipulate me – you assume a psychology based on you instead of what my life really was. I still see no reason to rebel against things of importance; I do not, however, consider the ideas that are being imposed upon me by arrogant, meddlesome people who want to benefit from the suffering they create to be important. I do not consider you an authority. I do not consider the Jewish community an authority; their actions towards me have been dishonourable. For me, fulfilling internal potential and making a unique contribution to the world – and making as much money as possible doing so – is the real point of life and attitudes that oppress this are a waste of time.
I don’t know why people recently insist I should think of you as a sister, as someone to turn to, as someone to look up to. Trusting as I may be, I would never trust you. You may have fooled Mom at the end, but only because she was so hurt by what happened with me and David. You might fool a lot of people now that you have ‘settled down’, but conformity is not the measure of good character. In fact, conformity and obedience are at the basis of all oppressive, corrupt societies, including, for example, Nazis, religious cults, communism. Millions of lives would have been spared had more people disobeyed and not conformed. As far as forgiveness goes, people do sometimes forgive others for the terrible things they do, but only when that person is genuinely sorry and makes the effort to compensate for the wrong. You, of course, would never consider doing this as you imagine it was your right to act the way you did and I will, therefore, never forgive you. In fact, I hope the world punishes you for it, as you deserve. I hope the world sees you as the monstrosity that you are. There are people who believe family is the most sacred of bonds; those people will condemn you. You have shown no responsibility towards me as a sibling and yet you think you have a right to appoint yourself as my guardian. A right to make decisions for me. A right to benefit from my work. You do not. I have a will and you and David are not in it. You were not part of the process when I started making art and you were not part of the process when I stopped. You cannot force someone to make art. It has to come from within. It is a highly specialised thinking process. It comes from an internal necessity. Making art is not a group decision – it is an act of free will. That is why society is so afraid of it, particularly societies that are insecure about their own position, who got there by means other than merit. I think it is very telling the aristocracy loved the arts and supported and encouraged them, whereas the poverty mentality does everything they can to suppress them. But I diverge. Art and free will - a community is defined as a group of like-minded individuals. Families do not necessarily form a community. Even within communities the individual has to be respected or there can be no relationships and the sense of belonging vanishes. Destroying the rest of my life so that I would have no choice but to return to painting is incompatible with free will. No one ever forced me to start painting. No one forced me to go to grad school or begin a career. It was my choice alone. At the time I stopped my roommate was drugging me. It made me sick. I was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. It was not my primary talent and it was a tremendous battle to produce good work. It came from negative impulses inside me and it brought nothing but negativity into my life. It brought out tremendous corruption in other people. Making it about yourself and as a way of proving you are powerful has only underscored the negativity. I have no obligations or debts to nor do I form bonds with people who have acted abusively towards me or robbed me. Men whose only way of gaining control over me or access to sex is to make sure I can’t earn a living are perverted, barbaric and ultimately pitiful. Degrading me will not make me more malleable. I do not form bonds based on common suffering. I do not form bonds with people who feed on pain. People have said to me that I should have known who it was who had it in for me – but how could I when the involvement is not reciprocal?
You have never been a part of my internal thinking. You were never there for me when I needed someone. You were always just something to endure and avoid as much as possible, like a bad smell. We have never had a relationship. There was a time I tried to talk with you on your own level but it wasn’t who I really am and it never really worked. I’ll never know what it was that bothered you so much about me – was it that I never admired you? Never emulated you? Was it that I was everything you wanted to be and knew you never would? You never tried to know me, you always just looked at me in terms of how dissatisfied you were. In fact, now I remember very little about you – I remember you smashed my head against a wall because I won at Monopoly and that you beat me up regularly, I remember you singing at the dinner table out of tune, you making off with the one box of cookies Mom would buy when she went grocery shopping, you sitting on people to win an argument, I remember when you pulled your braces off with a tweezer. I remember that you dropped out of school at 14 and hit the streets; that you had to have a home tutor to get your GED.
I remember you got Mom to sign a new will just days before she died naming an executor of your choice and you as second in command. I remember you saying you would put molasses in the CanCell if Mom started getting better. I remember you standing poised to throw a marble ashtray at my head because I was asking questions about the estate. David confirmed that you stole part of what was intended for me. I remember you trying to gain control over my storage space – my artwork. That’s about it. I remember my childhood friends and their families much better than I remember you. You don’t know anything about me. Let me enlighten you: I am in the top 10% of intelligence in the world. I am an overachiever, a career-oriented workaholic, self-motivated, self-disciplined, self-directed, and extremely self-demanding and self-critical. I don’t need anyone around to ‘moderate’ me. I am high-maintenance. I am health and fitness oriented. I have no interest in drugs or casual sex. I do not believe that drugs enhance creativity. I am gentle and peaceful by nature, but I am not weak. In fact, it takes more internal strength to be gentle than to be cruel. Cruelty is a sign of weakness. The most essential thing about me is the profound sense of detachment and alienation I have from the world around me – which includes people, ‘regular’ life, ‘normal’ activities, the material, mechanical world. I am able to attach to life and people only through the artistic work I do, and in fact I live only through the work I do. The range of my abilities in the arts is a reflection of how detached I am. It takes all these talents to make it possible for me to find a connection. This is actually quite common amongst artistic people, but you would never understand that. And because you don’t you make it look like it’s a negative thing. You, like many others, presume that it is about ego, aloofness or an attitude of superiority – in fact, the opposite is true. It is a state of egolessness, vulnerability and humility. It comes from the heart. It takes you out of yourself and connects to something deeper. That is why it is impossible for me to function outside the arts. Many people think the way to reach someone who is ‘detached’ is by ‘breaking them’ – in fact, they are already broken and need to be handled with care. You take your jealousy and turn it into vindictive self-righteousness. It is in fact you who need to be broken. I have chosen to study subjects for which I have an aptitude and they are my only skills and my only way of navigating the world or earning a living. Is that clear? People who make their lives in the arts do so because they have a different way of processing and organising information. We are wired differently. It is a real thing. It cannot be changed. It is not about ‘dreams’. There are no compromises. There are no alternatives. There are no half-ways. There are no other applications for this way of thinking. I have a master’s degree in painting, a bachelors in music and another in acting. You worked in offices. I still can’t type more than 30 words a minute and at that with 100 errors. Now you have degrees in history. While interesting, for me history is in one ear and out the next. When I practice the piano, however, I improve on a daily basis. I can memorise dialogue almost instantly. That is what is meant by an aptitude. Do you have that? You can type over a hundred words a minute. That is your aptitude. Sorry if you thought you had a right to be talented. Genetically you did. I wish you had. You would have been a nicer person for it. When I play piano, compose, write and work as an actress it is for me like Daddy and Uncle Henny are still alive. I am their heir. I am the only one who can continue in their footsteps. And I have to. I have to live up to their expectations. I have an obligation to fulfil the legacy they gave me. You can’t. When you oppress me you kill them all over again. You. Cancer. I hope you die of it. Get off the pot, Mary. Better yet, why don’t you just kill yourself? You can take up all three graves in the cemetery. Mommy and Daddy will probably crawl out but, well.
At the end Mom forgave me for giving up painting. She said she just wanted me to be happy and successful at whatever I wanted to do. We made peace. Growing up she had always said the same. She never tried to control me or influence me because I was good and didn’t give her any trouble.
She never suggested I become an artist. She used to tell me how pretty I was, how nice I looked in clothes with my relatively small hips. She made the costume for me for my first lead role in a school play when I was 10. She told me how proud she was of me for doing well in school. She supported me in whatever I did. The only time she said no to something that was important to me was going to a horseback riding summer camp. I went to Europe when I was 14 with my friend Mimi and her mother and sister. I went to Greece. I went cross country. She trusted and expected me to do well. She took care of me when I got sick, which was often. She protected me when one of my classmates in junior high school made obscene phone calls to me – she got him to make a public apology in front of the whole school. She paid for everything I needed when I couldn’t pay for it myself. When I was in college she used to write me letters about her own studies and asked me to be proud of her. I have no idea what she said to you about me; I do know she wanted to appear ‘tough’ in your eyes so you would respect her. Daddy loved me; he didn’t understand me but he took care of me. He would have done anything to make sure I had everything I needed and wanted. He saw that I had an aptitude for music even then. He got so frustrated with my mistakes. Bryna loved me, she always let me know that I was special. At one point she even offered to adopt me. Uncle Henny loved me and was so gentle with me, so giving, so warm; he could see that I was a little on the fragile side. The pearl seahorse pin. You stole. I miss them so much. When I do my work it’s a little easier because they live through me. I understand where I really come from and who I really am. It has nothing to do with you. I don’t come from you.
Was it you who decided I should be on ‘medication’? David? Stanley? You used to try to convince everyone that I was mentally unstable so you could gain control of the finances. David joined in with you. Still plays along. He really is ill. He actually believes that I never respected his work and imagines hearing my voice in his head telling him he isn’t any good. The opposite is true. He actually thinks that being abusive makes him manly. Poor David. What a waste. The drugs people have been slipping into my food for the last 30 years have created huge problems. It started with my roommate Steve Schwartz in the loft in Brooklyn after grad school. He did it to discredit it me because he was jealous of my work. The change in me was so drastic and yet the people who imagined they knew me never even asked what was wrong. You never asked what was wrong. I didn’t even know what had happened until years later when my boyfriend at the time – in Freiburg - told me. I do not suffer from mental illness. I am an artist. I have an intense internal life that I channel into form. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I’m borderline high-functional autistic. I’m a bit dyslexic. I’m gluten intolerant. I have a mitochondrial metabolic malfunction. Anti-depressants or psychotropic drugs are not the proper treatment for my conditions. Separating me from myself and my work has not opened the doors to other connections, it has only made it impossible to do anything. The drugs/medications have caused extreme damage - created problems with my memory, with cognitive thinking, with sequential and organisational thinking, with my moods – making them uncontrollable, with my stability, and made it even more difficult to do the most ordinary things. I haven’ been able to earn a living in 10 years. You owe me. You should pay for everything for me that is required for me to heal from the damage. At this level of damage the body does not heal itself. You should pay for everything that you cost me by your interference. For everything you stole. The estate. My jewellery. The paintings. One million dollars a year for all the years you have imposed yourself in my life uninvited. Interference on this level and as an adult has to be compensated. Childhood can be overcome, but as an adult I have to support myself. And I do have the right to choose how I do that and to use my skills and training to do so. I do have the right to live according to my own beliefs. I see no reason to live according to other people’s limitations and lack of imagination. I do not have to obligation to make choices according to other people’s demands. This is my life. If anything, it is people putting themselves first who have taught me that I have to do the same. And I do have to right to be successful if I am good enough at what I do. I do have the right to be treated with respect. I do have the right to benefit from my own work. I do have the right to expect that people will fulfil their responsibilities towards me. In fact, I can’t earn a living any other way. The common theory about ‘doing anything’ is how society enslaves people through desperation. In fact, some people don’t have anything in particular they feel strongly about, and it works for them, but people who do are not able to do anything else.
The economy would be in much better shape if everyone were given the chance to earn a living at what they are best at instead of being victims of necessity. I would have had a successful career by now, my own house, I might have married. I need my own house. I need to be around people who are on my level. I need my profession. I need a minimum of $50,000 per year to satisfy my basic needs. I don’t want to hear any more from the people who can only feel good about themselves when there is no one else around who can outshine them, of the ‘global ghetto’ mentality that levels off anything that stands out. No two people are ‘the same’. Dragging everything down doesn’t solve any problems. The fact is that someone will always be better or more beautiful or more talented or have something that you wish you had. If you can’t deal with that you should get treatment. Complain to God. Kill yourself. You certainly don’t have the right to harm them. You certainly don’t have the right to destroy their work or rob them of their property. It doesn’t make anything equal. The only true equality comes from respect for the individual. In intelligent society people are recognised for their abilities, not for how servile they are. Not for their suffering. People who mock are just too cowardly to do anything real themselves.
Making any kind of art, and that includes acting, music or writing, requires a huge amount of energy. 300%. It requires financial security, proper housing, clothes, food and medical attention. The older the person the more important these things become. It takes supplies. It is not a product of suffering. It is not improved by suffering. The value of the work is not increased by suffering. Artists do suffer internally because of the intense sensitivity, but because of that they need their lives to be comfortable. Artists are not less than other people. In fact, we have something extra that we give to the world and we need to be treated with equal generosity. Why do you think they put out so much food for everyone on a film set? You are so ignorant of what it means to be an artist. You think you can lock someone up and threaten to kill them if they can’t turn shit into gold for your benefit. What a cow you are. Picasso said art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. What would you know about that? You think it is easy, you think it is magic. When I was painting I didn’t have to worry about food or clothes or rent. I just concentrated on the work. This is the one element you have overlooked in imagining you can recreate what you suppose the circumstances were that made me choose to concentrate on painting one cold winter day in Ann Arbor. If you thought drugging me would make me obedient or see things your way you are hugely misguided. If you thought they would make me ‘normal’ you are hugely mistaken. In fact, the internal separation the drugs imposed have made it impossible for me to do anything ‘normal’. Impossible also for me to connect with painting or even remember how I did it any more. But I still connect through acting. And through music, although my abilities are impaired.
Your ‘tragic artist’ idea is a cliché and a scam. My work has always been recognised, appreciated and bought. And because I have made sure what really happened is public knowledge the work will be degraded in value. The story is revolting. It’s unsaleable. In fact, my work would be worth more if I am successful at something else. It is only one aspect of my thinking. If someone wants to protect the investment they made in me they should have faith in me, stop brow-beating me and make sure I am successful at what I am doing now. I have the talent and the drive.
And with everything you are you still have no way of creating your own fortune, so you think to steal mine. Everything behind my back. Turning people against me. And this makes you feel powerful and clever. FYI, the only people you really have power over are those who love and respect you. I am not amongst those people. Resorting to force and subterfuge reveals that you have no real power, only delusions of grandeur.
I think about revenge or retribution, because this level of cruelty requires it, but I know I will never be able to think in the treacherous way necessary to be good at such things, so I will have to leave it to making people aware of what you have done to get justice.
You. Criminal. Parasite. Murderer. Why aren’t you in jail. You would have a chance to pick on someone your own size. I wonder what the outcome of that would be. Put you in your place. Pretty easy bullying one petite middle age woman who is all alone and doesn’t fight back. Pathetic when you think about it. Certainly not powerful.