Monday, May 31, 2010

Anti-Zionist flotilla, and Israel's dilemma

My son and I had this exchange on facebook:

Josh Berer
hey, I'm sick of all these people dissing Israel! Israel has the right to defend its borders... from unarmed international aid workers.... in international waters... wait.

Stephen Berer
... oh wait again... unarmed?

Josh Berer
and you would kill everyone who didnt share your viewpoint. tell me, when people brand israel a pariah state do you scratch your head and wonder why? or does this look like the actions of a government that cares about a meaningful peace with her neighbors? or one that aspires to be a light unto the nations? when Israel talks about how much she wants peace but the palestinians just won't have it, do actions like these just disappear from your memory?
24 minutes ago

Stephen Berer
easy to talk and criticize from the comfort of the US. This event has made me sick, but Israel has to impress more people than liberals. It has to impress the Jew-hating, Israel-hating politicos from Europe, that they play hardball with Israel at their peril. It has to let Iran know that public opinion will not shape Israel's policies, and it will not be intimidated by ANYONE. It has to let Hezbollah and Hamas know that it will defend it's positions aggressively, ruthlessly, if necessary. Honestly Josh, Israel doesn't need to give a good goddam about your opinion or mine. It has more important fish to fry. Sorry bud.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Invocation for Mithz ov the Atternen Jew

Opening scene for Miths ov the Atternen Jew

Yu hav ask me tu preparen a jernee,
An report tu Yu ov wut iz my seen*.
* Utherz sayd “wut I am seez”
Heren the Pardaes Lanz ov the bliend;
Heren the Perdaeshen howlz in the holeez.
All superpozen theze lifenz abloen
By rowdee winz akross seez unfathem.
Heren thay werdenz ov Yur markabbel werlz
Twisten the vois a wun a Yur Addomz,
A man hu kno not Yur holee tung
But speken it ennee wayz. Here me Lor!
Taken wut iz goud and punnish me not
For how I miss tell and miss take wut iz Yuez.
Heren my jernee ov Yur testen pepelz
Az Yu ar rekwiyer, a long-aggo send me
Intu the inner rumen* Yur Pallas.
* Utherz sayz “ruwen”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kabbalistic wise men, 2

Here's part 2 of Plowmen Hav Taelz. Part 1 was posted May 4, 2010.

Plowmen Hav Taelz, Part 2

The street sweep say in hiz koffen spit,
“Wut iz the feelz the hav no soyel,
“Ware Addom iz plowman and Addom the plowd?
“So plowd he kan barelee stand in iz wind;
“He bent tu iz feelz, hiz boddeez a trembel.
“Yet, a pass ov him plow, an mennee feeldz ferro.”

“Wut iz the seed that iz skatter this plowwen?
“Like meteyor fallerz thru the sky he plunj
“Intu poolz ov rippellen lite, till the werk
“Him komplete, and Addom aggen iz arrest
“In a garden ware serpenz ar delietning the Eve.”

“This iz the Torrah ov Addom a-dans,
“Gronen ov the feelz that he mus plant.”

The ox will say with a muten louk,
“My seel tu iz groen! I wuns wuz a man,
“With a littel prik tu plow in the feelz.
“Tuday he drag it ware the femaelz ar feed,
“Tumarro the haroez, dens the klod;
“No telling the day he will spred hiz seed!
“Him ov narro shoelder, ov spindellee arm;
“Iz dullish hed porz forth no horn*.
                    * utherz say: “Lite” or “Gloree”

“Ah, galdlee I am not a man ennee mor,
“But an ox, huze seel iz all hide an hoof.
“My way is straet; the berden a law
“Uppon my brod shoeld iz a miysteree yoke.
“Frivvolus emoeshen, I kno nun ov that!
“Just a studdee strenth and a temper az vile
“Az the erth that wimperz az I thrust an plow.”

The ox duz nun ov Torrah kno
But he skribe it krude in a krouked ro.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tree, Grand Canyon

The Architectonics of Poetry

sketched 5/9/2010
descending Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

As Cal and I began our hike down the Bright Angel Trail, it struck me, overlooking the Canyon, that here, in the presence of time-defiant carvings, vaster, more slowly and minutely sculpted than any imaginable human endeavor, that in this scene of staggering contrasts, one may postulate and reflect upon the most significant distinction between American and European culture.

I will speak specifically of poetry.

In broad strokes, we may say that Europe has inherited and developed highly structured, metered, rhymed, and decorative forms of poetic expression. The many forms this has taken yet reflect a unifying, underlying purpose: that the human enterprise is about managing and controlling nature. It is a poetry of architectonics, asserting the human rejection of randomness, insignificance, minuteness. Even where, in this body of work, the human enterprise, personally or on a grand scale pales or fails, still, the divine and especially the messianic is tangent and prepared to assume authority. Yes, that is it: the structuring of European poetry represents a literature of an authoritarian human will conquering nature, and where that fails, of divine interventions that either shape or crush us.

Not so the quintessential American poetry, vis, Whitman, Neihardt, Jeffers, Turner, Thoreau (as if prose poetry), and their intellectual and spiritual colleagues in Bierstadt, Moran, Cole, Remington. The architectonics of their art are not driven by or contained in the formalities of fixed structures. Their vision is an outpouring of an epic narrative, following the non-linear and unexpected contours of consciousness, and emulating nature, rather than trying to control, restructure, or geometricize it. Natural beauty and natural structure are the virtue of this art and its vision, and the divine is not tangent or removed or above, nor waiting to intervene with redemptions and punishments, but embedded and present, immanent. And as the divine is immanent, so is the human responsibility to moral action, here, now, not deferred, not waiting for a messiah, but acting with a messianic agency.

Thus my meandering thoughts as we climb down the steep trail that follows native contours, crossing paths with speakers of a dozen languages or more, the California Condor brooding silently overhead, cliffs and steep drops but a step or two away, awestruck and inspired, thinking of this conflicted, flawed, and glorious nation and the unexpected changes it has generated in the human soul, in the human word.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Plowmen and donkey drivers - Kabbalistic wise men

The following 2 stanzas are part of a series of poems in Pardaes Dokkumen, in the section Plowmen at Faer. Donkey drivers and other lowly tradespeople appear in the Zohar occasionally, often as messianic figures or hidden holy men. You can decide for yourself who they are here:

Plowmen Hav Taelz

A donkee driver sed,
“I met a plowman reterning frum feeldz,
“Hu sed, ‘This partikkuler vallee a fludz,
     “‘And the oxxen ar serlee and I hav plow
     “‘The muk and klay intu thik slerree.
     “‘Up tu my waest I hav groen and drivven
     “‘The beests, foemen at nostrel and kikken;
     “‘The plow in my handz a sord tu the erth.
     “‘That iz the Torrah ov my narro vale.
     “‘The ferro ar fludden and no wun dissern
     “‘The seed frum the staen in the eenkee lien
     “‘I skrach on a serf a this limminal feeld.’”

A wotter kareyer then pord iz dreenk,
“I met a plowman a reternen frum feelz.
“He sez, ‘For jennerratenz I the plow this expanz.
     “‘My ling ar groen in its oxxide dust.
     “‘In morning iz sault iz kurst on my iy.
     “‘My fout print pressen in dune and drift.
     “‘My skin a reenkelz az my plowwen reenkelz.
     “‘Wut I du tu the lan, it duz tu me.
     “‘That iz the Torrah ov this endless ekspan.
     “‘The sun and the wind strips us ov breth.
     “‘We kut owwer ferro; it shaeps ar deth’”