Enduring Contradictions

Some fragmentary random improvisations on what we try to re-main, rename, reclaim ~ of the in-between of boston-jerusalem, jewgreekbuddhabeethoven extremes meet ~ of contradictions – truths, claims incommensurate yet both, each, all commanding ~ of the ram נאחז בסבך caught in the thicket ~ of irony's persistent critical mourning loss celebrative disruptive demanding love of response-ability toward possibility in the different faces of everything everyone one another ~ of the other in need – of the over there ~ אלא – the rather than ~ that makes its demands upon us over against opposite us in the here and now

~ Celebrating This Incommensurate Irreducible Distance-Between ~

   This might be the idea, the movement, the project – more than any other which certainly can be identified within Judaism – that would especially be Mysticism – yet the distinctive experience – more than the mystical {though, paradoxically, contradictorily included still in some significant modality, to some significant degree, anyway – because embracing – enduring contradiction is what this different, this counter project is all-about!} – &-yet this distinctive orientation, consciousness – it can be argued most – relatively… – characterizing of the perspective we call Judaism – might indeed involve 

there being this distance-between

~ at the heart of the consciousness, the enterprise of ~ hoo-ha-ah – namely,

Talmudism – the Rabbinic project.

Its driving force – an engaging of so-called pure or absolute monotheism –

as well as what has been articulated as an ever-deferred messianism.

The difference, differánce  – the deferral –

Jacques Derrida so critically identifies with Judaism.

The transcendence of the reality we call ‘God,’ the ‘Divine.’

That there is this essentially unbridgeable, incommensurate distance-between.

Given to some kind of partial bridging-toward.

But always ‘only’ partial.

Yet – why that ‘only’ – when all that is possible is what is partial –

& hey – we love it all the more so – accept it, prefer it –

even celebrate it, love it for what it is –

even-though we know the ‘cost’ —

Between exile & redemption.

between this world as it is & the coming world

as we yearn & strive for it to be(come).

Between the Divine Absolutely Unlike, Other, Different, Unique,

on the one hand,

and the Anything & Everything We Know –

the Always Already Come World,

on the other – which is the same.

Between what Herman Melville called – what is ‘kind to our mortalities’ –

Emily Dickinson – ‘Too bright for our infirm Delight –

[thus the need for] explanation kind’ –

on the one hand,

& what the ‘God aw(e)ful truth’ of things – how they really are – without us –

on the other.

And this – very much including ourselves, our very own selves – as individuals

& as our collective communities, traditions, nations –

& all of us together in our common humanity.

Anise 'symbol'

There is this present given reality as it is

versus the imagined ideal reality as it should, ought to, could be(come) –

can be(come) but now isn’t.

This distance repeats in the Passover Seder –

Now we are slaves. Next year we will be free.

~ Before – our ancestors were idol worshipers.

Now the Ever-Present-Placeless-Place-of-&-Beyond-the-Universe

has brought us to Its service.

This – Now we are here. Next year in Jerusalem.

Always – always this difference —

So that if we are conducting, engaging, performing, playing, living

the Seder in Jerusalem –

we know well our commitment to this constant Not-Yet –

for then we say:

Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem.

This can be diagrammed as two circles – with some overlap –

How-the-world-&-everything-in-it

is not identical with

how-we-want-it-to-be –

how we imagine it in its ideal or more ideal state.

Though there is some overlap

Two circles with some overlap

between

the world – again, including my self – as I know it… –

as it is

& the world as it should, could, might, can be(come) –

there is some overlap – some equivalent identity.

The world as it is – is already – partially

how it should be.

But

there remains  gap,

a difference.

Something transcends my, our reach.

Franz Rosenzweig: There is a Standard, a Criterion

that is besides myself –  that is situated opposite, other-than, over against me.

A difference remains

that demands our continuous striving

to narrow, to lessen that distance.

Yet to always be on guard that complete redemption is not possible.

Indeed, to come to it as fully accomplished would be dangerous.

For then we would miss what can, might, should, must be

Critiqued, questioned, challenged.

This always deferred ever, always Coming of the Messiah

Honored in Kafka’s riddle – on how

‘The Messiah will come

only when

he is no longer necessary;

he will come on the day after his arrival;

he will come, not on the last day,

אלא

but-rather

on the very last.’

Likewise Yeshaiyahu Leibowitz on how

‘A Jew who thinks the Messiah has arrived – violates the obligation

to know that the Messiah is coming – for the obligation is to know

שֶיבוא

‘that he will come!’

Always in the future.

And Yehuda Amichai’s poem

‘On the Broad Plaza Steps [Leading to The Kotel – to the Western Wall] –

Lying in Wait to Ambush Happiness’!

במארב לאושר

On the Broad Plaza Steps...

In the Hebrew – the way the expression-idea-experience ‘between’ works is

that it repeats itself – appearing both before a comparison & –

between whatever the two phenomena that are being compared –

such that the distance, the difference between them is highlighted –

so that in Hebrew – for instance – we have – how to translate – something like

‘between the hoped for in-its-being-between the imagined’.

Wild man Derrida celebrates this insistent persistence of the-between’

in Biblical & Rabbinic experience

in his casting a spotlight on how in Ezekial 10, verses 6 & 7 – we encounter the word ‘between’

in a form we can’t say in French – or English – namely, in the plural

בינות

the singular is

בין

beyn

the plural beynot – o is in the English oh.

The context involving the k’ruvim – hovering over the ark –

facing opposite, over against, between one another.

The keruvim over the ark - small

The last three lines of Amichai’s poem are a take-off – an interpretation –

of three words from the biblical Song of Songs –

chapter 1, the first three words of verse 5 –

שחורה אני ונאוה

literally: ‘I am black but beautiful.’

The word black is set parallel with the ‘dark’ tents of Kedar –

which also refers to the ‘dark’ emotion, the state-of-mind – of

melancholy – in its relation to the divided consciousness

fraught with the antinomies, the opposites, contradictions

of Hegelian dialectical antinomies & alienations ~

& thus Rabbi Azriel of Gerona (circa 1160-c. 1238)

& Julia Kristeva in her essay on The Song of Songs – a chapter in her book on Tales of Love.

Yet precisely because of that darkness that can be associated with a heightened honest mind-spirit –

that entails the sensitivity of such multi-storied awareness, recognition – precisely because of that

divided consciousness –

I am beautiful sensitive deep response-able to life

in all its rich complexity

demanding,

commanding.

 Anise 'symbol'

One day a practical joker in Jerusalem thought of a creative idea.

I’ll go up to the Mount Olives from which the Messiah is said to set out in his coming to the world

— a coming to be prefaced by a blast of the shofar from Eliyahu  –

& I will sound the shofar!

And indeed when he sounded the ram’s horn from there

everyone in the city was in a joyous panic!

The attendant to a visiting Hasidic Rebbe burst into his master’s study

to announce the Messiah’s too-long-awaited arrival –

everyone in the city having heard Elijah’s sounding of the shofar.

The Master –

without

any alteration in his composure,

without

any special excitement –

got up from his seat & walked over to the window.

‘Ah,’ he said. ‘No,’ he continued. ‘That must have been a practical joker who went up to the Mount of Olives & blew the shofar – for the Messiah has not yet arrived.

Because look – there outside a man is beating his horse.’

Anise 'symbol'

Rolling, then, with Jeff Buckley & Leonard Cohen with the idea-experience-reality that it’s indeed not a cry you hear at night – & – no, my man, no girl – you right – it’s not somebody who’s seen the light — o-oh yeh, you know-ho-ow it – it’s a cold – as Wallace Stevens takes-up ‘cold’ – as a figure for experiencing reality – as much as this is possible – without adding our meanings – but-rather encountering it as close as possible as it is (see for example his poem ‘The Snow Man’ – so that, yes, here’s reality ‘cold’ – without intrusion of what we want it to be – without-illusion without-delusion dialectically embracing, reflecting, including all & everything in its contradictions not given to resolution – redemption – not full, not complete anyway – not given to simple one-dimensional harmony – אלא – a keyword in Rabbinic discourse – ela – ‘on-the-contrary’ – ‘but-rather’ it’s a cold but oh so rich so rea-eal – that’s right – that’s right – you know it baby – oh yeh – it’s a broken ‘like fine lace – torn yet beautiful’ (Yehuda Amichai) – sing – chant- croo-oo-oon the-between – the divided – halle-halle-lu-oo-oo-oo-ya-a-a-a-a-a-ah

   

 

Breaking & Hiding Riddles

With my very first post in this blog I’m trying-out for just over a month now I offered the first pages of my essay on The Educational Conversation & Its Dialectic Spirit – & there promised I’d share the rest of those thoughts with you ~ so-ho hoo-ha here’s that exploration in full {If you don’t see the link to the essay below – click on the Comment(s) link & it will appear.}

Then he – Moshe – said to Him – to It: ‘O-cause-me-to-see, do accede to this – let-me-see Your glory-exuding-heavy-presence-manifest!’ But He – None-Other-Than-It-Nothing-Like-a-Person-Nothing-Like-Anything-We-Know – The-Divine-Yes-Divine – said: ‘No-you’re-unable to see My faces for no-he-cannot-see-Me – the-human-being and live.’ Then It said – None-Other-Than-Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey ~ He-Who-That-Which-Is-Nearly-Unnameable-Past-That-Continues-Into-Present-That-Before-Immediately-Becomes-Future-That-Never-Reaches-Any-Final-Home-Destination said: ‘See-now-if-you-forgo-leave-off-everything – there-is-a-place-here with-Me such-that-you-will-take-your-stand-opposite-the-massive-stone-rock & when in-Its-passing-by – yes-a-manifestation-of-My-heavy-fleeting-presence what-with-My-having-placed-you in-the-break-the-divide of-the-stone-rock while-I-shield with-the-palm-of-My-hand raised-over-you until-My-passing-by. Then-I-will-take-away the-palm-of-My-hand &-you-will-see My-back – but My faces no-they-cannot-be-seen. ~ Exodus 33:18-23 ~ See the sky about to rain – broken clouds & rain — Whistle blowing in my brain — Signals curling on an open plain — Some are bound for happiness – some are bound for glory – some are bound to live with less – who can tell your story — I was down in Dixie Land – played a silver fiddle — Played it loud & then the man – broke it down the middle ~ Neil Young

I just earlier this evening, dear Asher, wrote you here in reply/response

to your sharing how Vadim Repin’s rendition of Prokofiev’s violin concerto no. 1, opus 19 is especially compelling – & for sure it’s also because of Valery Gergiev’s conducting (just listen to his conducting Verdi’s Requiem with Renee Fleming et al!) —

My response I wrote you:

Well, obviously – Prokofiev opus 19 – this is a work that especially seizes & moves me ~ so-ho I know several renditions – violinists taking it on. In deciding to share it here – and you know it would not have been enough for me to share it just because of my email address. The way I envision this blog – everything – including the sampling from my artwork ~ everything is to be related, driven by the focus of ‘enduring contradictions’ – &, well, the centrality of that theme, perspective, consciousness, spirit for me necessarily inhabits, resonates in all manner of phenomena that speak to me – so it is no coincidence that this musical work – to me – of course all music involves contrasts – but some do so in an especially strong way – & being open-eyed to life’s contradictions I see as indeed related, bound-up with our ‘shi’urim’ – text-study-explorations – concerning a ‘religiosity without delusion’ – which is characterized by some kind of non-sentimental rather severe restrained consciousness, disposition & expression – all of which I hear in this work. ~ Well, so when I decided to share at least something – the 1st movement is most compelling for me – I devoted a long time choosing what rendition from among those available on youtube to share – & wow – I had never heard Vadim Repin’s interpretation – it is just something else! What he brought to it actually brings to my mind-spirit – what Neil Young has brought & continues to bring to his music. Both artists play not ‘as though’ – but actually such that ‘their life/lives [indeed] depend on it’ – and maybe even more than their own lives alone —

And so that voice just said to me:

Well, then, hello-ho Steve –

you’ve got to now

share

something of Neil Young’s giving himself over to his music, to —

‘The polarities are in us’ – ‘Number me among the almonds’ – ‘The purpleword over, o over the thorn’ – Paul Celan ~ ‘The one who looks upon – & treads alongside – the abyss’ – Gilgamesh

We Are Dying, We Are Living: Enduring Contradiction in the Accompaniment of Young People Facing Life-Threatening Illness

We Are Dying, We Are Living: Enduring Contradiction in the Accompaniment of Young People Facing Life-Threatening Illness

< Appeared in abridged form in the Hebrew volume authored & edited by Edna Pinchover ~
The Black Colors Died & the Happy Colors Won: Drawings by Children with Cancer
(The Israel Cancer Association & HaKibbutz HaMeuchad, Tel Aviv, 2002) >

Just try to see the heavenly Jerusalem separate from the earthly! ~ No, Jerusalem is not a city. ~ But rather – a – negative theography —

“More obscure than what has preceded:

Know that the describing of the Divine, may It be cherished and exalted, by means of negations – statements of what It is not ~ a description that is no effected by an indulgence in facile language and does not imply any deficiency with respect to the Divine in general or in any particular matter. On the other hand, if one describes It by means of affirmations – statements of what It is, then one implies that It is related to that which is not It – which necessarily implies a deficiency in regard to It …”

~ Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed – Part One, Chapter 58 ~

Negative Theography - with 2 drawings

O-liiii-ttle-ro-o-o-ose-red-petalled-&-tho-o-orned! ~ O-contradictions-iiiir-resolvable! ~ O-O-O-hu-uoo-ma-nity-in-gre-e-ea-test-need! ~ O-blessed-life! ~ ‘The unexpected appearance of the alto solo [after some 40 minutes of only instrumental music – no human voice – while the two solo singers sit at front center stage throughout this instrumental stretch & only after those 40 minutes does the first singer stand & intone her lone voiced song – so that, yes, this dramatic turn] casts a sudden illumination’

Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony No. 2 – the 4th movement

– The London Mozart Symphony Orchestra with alto Jeanette Ager –

~

“… Mahler makes four changes in this text. First, he omits the third, fourth, and fifth stanzas. These stanzas express conventional Christian piety and a conventional image of heavenly peace, which puts an end to all striving and effort. In place of this static end-state, Mahler, as we shall see, focuses on the beauty of striving and love; nor does he mention Jesus or Heaven. Second, throughout Mahler omits the Halleluja’s, which add nothing to the content and suggest a static finality rather than a continuation of effort. Third, he alters ‘I am sown’ to ‘you are sown.’ Although on the surface this simply makes the rhetorical address to ‘my dust’ continue into the second stanza, it also has the effect of turning the poem outward to address all humanity. Finally, he substitutes for ‘schuf,’ ‘created,’ the word ‘rief,’ ‘called.’ God figures in the text, then, not as the creator of man, but as the one who calls the creative person to self-expressive action. …

‘Nothing of you will be lost,’ the contralto sings. And she develops this idea in the ensuing, ambiguous words. At first, one takes these words in the most obvious teleological sense: you now have everything you ever wanted, everything you ever loved and fought for. And they can certainly be taken in that way. But besides being unacceptable as a conventional account of heavenly reward … , the German clearly can and does have another sense, in which the accusatives are construed as internal or cognate accusatives (a construction common in ancient Greek as well as in German, and in English locutions like ‘fight the good fight’). An internal accusative introduces no object distinct from the activity mentioned in the verb: in effect it simply reinforces the verb, by mentioning again, as a substantive, the activity involved in the verb. …

What is being said, then … is that the reward of a life of striving and love is to have that life. That is you and yours and cannot be taken from you in any way, by an death or pain or opposition. The triple meaning of ‘geschlagen’ reinforces the idea: not just some metaphysical struggle, but your very heartbeat, the passionate movements of your body – and, in music, your beating time – is what redeems you, is what redemption consists in. …

Out of the silence of death – at a time when, inconventional terms, we expect to find the judge of the traditional Dies Irae stepping forward with his great book ‘in which everything is contained by which the world will be judged’ – we hear, instead, the quiet simple voices of human beings singing in chorus, reassuring one another. ‘Soft and simple,’ Mahler writes, ‘the words gently swell up.’ They sing unaccompanied, in simple chorale-like harmony. The resurrection theme that has been contaminated by the worldly clutter of the march now stands forth with naked dignity. On the words ‘brief Rest,’ the theme bends downward. The altered word ‘rief,’ ‘called,’ is now given tremendous emphasis, as the soprano solo soars upward above the chorus, singing, as Mahler marks the part, ‘very tenderly,’ and ‘inwardly.’ The second stanza continues the same pattern, with simple orchestration. …

What is the ‘light to which no eye has penetrated’? In an obvious sense, it is the light of Heaven. But the idea that no eye has seen the light of Heaven is, in Christian terms, an anomaly. Not only mystical experiences within this life – prominently recognized in both the Augustinian and the Thomistic traditions – but also the experiences of angels and perfected souls after death involve the seeing of the heavenly light. Some translations reduce the difficulty by writing ‘no mortal eye’ – but this is not, of course, what the text says. We can now note that in Jewish eschatology the afterlife is not a bright, but a shadowy, place, rather like the Homeric underworld. And Judaism draws close to Romanticism in its insistence on finding the worth and meaning of a life within history, in its choices and striving in this life. It seems not too bold to see here, then, a distinctively Jewish picture of the afterlife as in itself shadowy and uncertain, to be given light only by the achievements of the person within this life. Mahler’s Romanticism and his Jewishness are once again allied, in drawing attention to the light of the worldly life, rather than to any telos beyond this world.

In keeping with this emphasis, it is, I believe, worth at least entertaining a further idea. If my account of the work has been at all persuasive, musical creativity is among its central subjects. Mahler repeatedly associates music with darkness: it is the realm where ‘the dark feelings hold sway.’ The idea that ideal experience must be a visual experience, that its illumination must be accounted for in terms of the eye, would be one that might well be resisted by a person whose deepest emotions unfold themselves in musical form. Mahler was rather dismissive of the visual arts, writing that they are hooked up with ‘external appearances’ rather than with ‘get[ting] to the bottom of things.’ Music, by contrast, cuts beneath habit. It can therefore shed a light that is, very precisely, unseeable to the socially corrupted eye. Mahler uses the idea of ‘illumination’ in describing both the ‘Urlicht’ and the final experience of heavenly love. But I believe that it is, precisely, an illumination unseeable because musical, a light emanating from the inner world where the ‘dark feelings hold sway.’ This is fully compatible with, and a further specification of, the work’s Jewish eschatology.

The entire chorus now joins the ascent. It becomes the ascent of all mortal beings, rich and poor, female and male, winged by love. They now sing in triumphant unison, ‘I shall die, in order to live.’ And now the Resurrection theme returns, sung fortissimo by the entire chorus, accompanied by the full orchestra – with, now, the addition of the organ.
 The sounds of Bach chorale now perfectly fuse with the Mahlerian intensity of strings and brass, as the symphony celebrates the victory of authentic (musical) creation and the love it bears to all human beings. The strong and fully, expressive self, addressed as ‘you, my heart,’ now finds no limits to its joy. Instead of curving downward, burdened beneath a weight, the last phrase of the theme soars confidently back up to b-flat: ‘Rise again, yes, rise again you will my heart, in an instant,’ ‘(in einem) Nu,’ is held solidly, weightily, for almost a full bar, as if to direct our attention to the temporally extended and the bodily, through which and in which the victory has been achieved. The triple meaning of ‘geschlagen‘ – the heart’s struggles, its physical beating, and its music’s beat – is now expressed in the orchestra, as the percussion, brass, organ, and strings all strike together emphatically on the downbeat. The temporality and physicality of sound – for Schopenhauer, signs of the connection between music and nonredemption, bondage to the erotic will – become here the vehicle of redemption, and the redeemed existence.

Is there an otherworldly Christian salvation in this work? On the surface, there is. On the other hand, it is emphasized that there is no ‘Last Judgment,’ no assignment of static positions. Being and love are the ends, and these ends are ends in this life and of this life. Mahler purposively omits portions of Klopstock’s text referring to Jesus and to heavenly peace, substituting his own Romantic vision. Furthermore, in order be a salvation for the self, the world of bliss must be a wolrd of the heartbeat, of the body, of erotic striving, of continued receptivity and vulnerability – a world in which general compassion for human suffering yields a loe as fully universal as music itself.

Mahler achieves, then, a triumphant fusion of the Christian ascent with the Romantic emphasis on striving and imagination. He does this in the context of a Jewish emphasis on this-worldly justice and the this-worldly body …”

~ Martha Nussbaum in her Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions

(Cambridge University Press, 2001)

< Most of my 'default' Category formulation as well as Tags for this
 post - oah-oa-oh - poem - are drawn - with a few slight changes - from
 Professor Nussbaum's lighthouse articulations in this study; indeed, yes
 - in her discussion of Mahler's 2nd symphony. >

The Way is Always Outside

< First appeared in Sh’ma - March 2006 >

 

 

AMONG THE very short passages that seize

me to my deepest roots and highest reaches —

very short passages in music, visual arts, film,

dance, and literature — are these few lines in

Midrash Shir HaShirim Rabbah: one time Rabbi

Akiva was delayed in arriving at the houseof-

probing-interpretation. Upon arriving, he

sat himself down outside. When a halakhic

question arose, Akiva’s colleagues said: “The

halakhah, the way, is outside.” Again it happened

that a halakhic question arose. They

said: “Akiva is outside!” They cleared a place,

and so, entering, he sat himself down at the

feet of Rabbi Eliezer.

Now there’s no question that Rabbi Akiva’s

colleagues held him in great esteem. Many of

them certainly disagreed with him on one issue,

and most of them disagreed with him on

another. Critical, extremely repurcussive questions:

literal versus figurative understandings

of religious language and the Torah’s anthropomorphic

depictions of the Divine and the

imagery adopted to convey miraculous events.

Rabbi Yishmael and those sages who joined

his school of thought opposed Rabbi Akiva’s

literalist approach. The other issue that divided

Rabbi Akiva from most of his fellow

sages involved Shimon Bar Kosiba. Rabbi

Akiva supported his armed revolt against the

Roman occupation, playing off of his family

name in calling him Bar Kochba — Son of a

Star. The majority of his colleagues, though,

thought his revolt would only be defeated and

so forcefully that whatever semblances of Jewish

national life could still be conducted would

be lost. They called the rebel leader Bar Koziba

— Son of a Deceiving Lie. Diversity and debate

over a most fateful question.

The rabbis did look to Akiva for guidance

in matters of halakhah. This is the literal sense

of our short passage. But its figurative resonance

is what I find especially compelling. The

way is always “outside” our present thinking,

feeling, and acting. A place must be cleared

to invite the other to enter and have a say, a

voice. Though it may not be directly accepted,

its challenge will expand thought regarding

possibility through a process of re-cognition.

An even shorter teaching of the rabbis that

commands me is a play on the Hebrew word

of the Genesis Creation drama — that the human

being is very good, tov mi’od. The biblical

and rabbinic outlooks celebrate an ongoing

search that doesn’t arrive at a final answer; the

biblical Hebrew, actually, is more accurately

reflected by the translation, human being-in-becoming.

Here, there is a play on the characterization

of the human being-in-becoming

as very good — טוב מאד . The Hebrew letters for

very, מאד — mem, aleph, dalet — are the same

letters found in the word adam, אדם , human being.

The human being-in-becoming is multiple,

contains diverse modes of relating to her/himself

and all else that she/he meets.

Sigmund Freud appears as a character in

the Israeli playwright Yehoshua Sobol’s play,

The Soul of the Jew. Freud has just one stage

appearance in order to deliver just one line

— that whenever, wherever we come upon

the truth, that’s when we need to move on in

search of it elsewhere. And in My Destination,

Kafka’s hero announces: “Away from here,

always away-from-here is my destination.”

Reality, the human condition, and human

possibility are too complex, too rich, for any

one life perspective — be it philosophic or religious,

rational or romantic, ethical or aesthetic,

individual-centered or collective-oriented. As

Paul Celan wrote, the “polarities that are in us”

are too complex, too rich, too vast…”

I see all traditions — also all religious

traditions, even those of Israel — all life orientations,

and all positions within traditions

as sections of an orchestra. No one part finds

its value in being superior to another. Indeed,

none can represent music in a genuinely

reaching way by itself. There would be no

Bible without, for instance, Gilgamesh, and

there would be no Jewish mysticism without

Sufism and Gnosticism. No Talmud without

Greek schools of intellectual discourse. No

medieval Jewish philosophy without Greek

and Islamic philosophy. No medieval Hebrew

poetry without Arabic modes of poetry and

poetic experience. We have a word so divine

that it repeats itself often in the rabbinic discourse:

ela, אלא . It means: I thought it was like

this, but I must push my thought, feeling, and

acting to consider that it might be something rather

than what I assumed. The other way of achieving

a sense of self value is to know ourselves — along

with each and every part of the orchestra — as unique,

as different. Creation requires us to be in relation with

multiple, diverse conversations — modes of knowing,

exploring, and expressing. The Jewish emphasis is

most often verbal and very often intellectual. But we

are challenged to make room for the compelling

forces and subtle nuances also of other means ~

music, dance, the visual arts, film, emotion, intuition

— silence beyond words.

And yet the Jewish section of the orchestra does not

simply give-in to the temptation of a harmonizing

aesthetics, does not simply become one with the

mesmerizing world as object so that we lose the world

as subject with its demanding calls of response-ability.

We celebrate being-in-relation-with that is all about

is all about enduring the realms of the between,

the heroic honoring of difference; even incommensurate,

irresolvable difference, not given to the synthesis of any

complete redemption.

The Jewish artist, pluralist, collagist who

seeks out diverse ways of knowing, expressing,

and exploring recognizes the tensions

between the Jewish love affair with mind

and law, and refusing cultures of redemption

in their various manifestations on the

one hand, and the aesthetics of feeling and

serendipity, on the other hand. Engaging

conversation with these potentially creative

tensions achieves great dialectic moments of

Jewish-human-creature departing to greet the

outside while also staying put in drawing the

outside in; into the clearings we make within

our interiors and back outward again. Both

facing in and out, like the cherubim hovering

their beating wings over the ark of the

covenant that is suspended over the faces of

the rushing endless formless many interrupting

waters of the darkly shining abyss. Testify

to all this via different modes of exploration,

leaving nothing – and ultimately – no one – out.

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