Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Akedah

The following is a short midrash (literary exploration/expansion) on the biblical story of the Binding of Isaac (Yitzkhak), that is, when Avraham is tested and takes Yitzkhak to sacrifice him. The brief story can be found at Beraysheet/Genesis 22:1-19. 

Like so many biblical tales, there is much more left out than told. The text, translated by Fox, says, 22:3, "He saddled his donkey, he took his two serving-lads with him, and Yitzkhak his son..." Of course, the rabbis have been asking, lo these thousand years and more, who are these 2 "serving-lads"? Equally (or more) provocative, the tale says nothing from Yitzkhak's POV, and indeed it concludes with this, 22:19, "Avraham returned to his lads and they arose and went to Be'er-Sheva." Where's Yitzkhak?? These, and many other questions are much commented upon.

One existing midrash suggests that one of the "serving-lads" was none other than Ishmael, Yitzkhak's half brother. Another (unrelated) midrash suggests that Hagar, wife/concubine/servant of Avraham and mother of Ishmael, is an Egyptian. Those 2 little details should provide you with sufficient points of entry into the following:

When Avraham took Yitzkhak, along with Ishmael, a servant, and a donkey up to Mt. Moriah, he said to his Egyptian son, "you stay here with the donkeys, while I take this one up." Then Ishmael cried, "What about me father?! Is there no blessing for me?"

Avraham sternly replied, "Stay with the donkeys."

Avraham and Yitzkhak returned the next day, and Ishmael saw the horror in his brother's eyes. He thought to himself, "This is a God I should fear, and this is a father I should fear. This is a God, better to know from a distance, and this is a father better to keep at a distance."

And they walked back to Be'er-Sheva in silence.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Response to article in Middle East Star

The Middle East Star, on 11/21 published an article entitled:
Hamas should be engaged by Israel – by Ed Husain
I genuinely believe the author does not consider himself an enemy of Israel, but rather an Arab voice, probably a lonely Arab voice, seeking peace. But like a fish that is unaware of the water in which it swims, the author, in reality, remains a voice of Arab hatred and oppression of Israel and Jews.

The whole article can be found at:
Here are some critical excerpts that are revealing of the omnipresent hate driving the Arab (and Muslim) world. After these excerpts (in italics), you can find my response.

... I can name tens of Muslim clerics, important formulators of public opinion in a region dominated by religion, that will readily condemn acts of terrorism against the West, but will fall silent when it comes to condemning Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Put simply, support for violent resistance against Israel among Arab and Muslim-majority countries -- including allies of the United States such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia -- remains popular.

... From radical Iran to moderate Tunisia, Hamas' Prime Minister Ismail Haniyyeh was welcomed by vast cheering crowds during visits this year.

... Israel needs to change. ... A tiny nation of seven million [Israel; 5.25 million Jews] cannot be allowed to damage ties between 360 million Americans and 300 million Arabs.

Here is my critical response:

As ever, the author, although I don’t doubt that he is well-meaning, has it all backwards. 300 million Arabs and 5 million Jews, but our author says the Jews are the problem, not the Arabs! Why are the Jews a problem? Because they are a minority in a region that only knows oppression of minorities. Ask any Copt, any Kurd, any Assyrian Christian. Indeed, ask any Sunni in a Shia country, or Shiite in a Sunni country!

And of course, it is not Israel that "damages ties between 360 million Americans and 300 million Arabs," as the author would have us believe. It is the hatred, violence, and intolerance of the Arab people, institutionalized by governments, mosques, media, and schools that has damaged ties.

Mr. Husain, YOU are the problem, and you are its clearest symbol. You expose with complete clarity the absolute refusal of the Arab world to look at itself and realize how sick, how immoral, and how dysfunctional it is. Until THAT changes, Israel will be just one more excuse for Arab dysfunction.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From The Atternen Juez Talen: Ketuba

In this brief scene the Atternen Ju, who is getting married, watches as his ketuba (marriage contract) is produced by a scribe. The first version is in meta-English, followed by a standard English version. For all you calligraphers and sofers...

Meta-English (Stevetok) version:
The skrieb hav a hole jarfule a penz
An a mennee bottellen ov eenks, az wel.
An not a sheet a linnen, starcht,
But rit on a parchmen skind ov a goet!

He puelz owt a goos kwil an kaerfule inspeks;
Sharps it a bit; then a dipt in eenk,
Shaeks it, an taken a long deep breth.
Fliez forth him han, like a swawlo that dievz
An sord thru the aerz, dip an fly,
Dip an fly, an thaer on the parch
A weengen chareb toppen the page.
Then annuther pen in annutherren jar
An annutherren sereez ov shaek an fly.
An wo! the chareb lumen in goel;
An with a flik he a spatterren, starree a sky.
Then, with kaerfule, a mezherren stroek
Larjen letterz in lappis blu,
Youd hay vuv hay*, the holeyes Name
                * Hebrew letters, code for ineffable Name; 

                spoken: Uddoniy
Between the owtstrechen chareb weeng.
Then in a liten a shaden a blu,
El Shuddiy, the nercherres Name
In smawler letter inside Uddoniy.
Now kum the marij kontrak tex,
Awl bizzee an aeree an fule a pomp,
‘Waerfor this’ an ‘waeraz that’
In blak letterren, smawl an skware.
Then zigzag an swerrel tu border the siedz,
An heez dun, we sine, an I’m a mareeyes man.

Standard English (dulltok) version:
The scribe has a whole jarful of pens
And many bottles of ink, as well.
And not a sheet of linen, starched,But written on a parchment skin of a goat!

He pulls out a goose quill and carefully inspects;
Sharpens it a bit; then dips it in ink,
Shakes it, and takes a long deep breath.
Flies forth his hand, like a swallow that dives
And soars thru the air, dip and fly,
Dip and fly, and there on the parchment
A winged cherub atop the page.
Then another pen in another jar
And another series of shake and fly.
And whoa! the cherub illumined in gold;
And with a flick he spatters a starry sky.
Then, with careful and measured strokes
Larger letters in lapis blue,
Yud hay vuv hay*, the holiest Name
                * Hebrew letters, code for ineffable Name; 

                spoken: Adonai
Between the outstretched cherub wings.
Then in a lighter shade of blue,
El Shaddai, the nurturing Name
In smaller letters inside Adonai.
Now comes the marriage contract text,
All busy and airy and full of pomp,
‘Wherefore this’ and ‘whereas that’
In black letters, small and square.
Then zigzag and swirl to border the sides,
And he’s done, we sign, and I’m a married man.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Eastern Shore, 2

Twilight and the Idols, aka some pics of Nancy, my BatKoel (with thanks to Gimp and Warhol and a perlee sunset):

Down by the reebop, I shot my babee...

An' now she begin tu tok tu me...

Oh yeah...

 The nazz ar blu, er, green... (you know that old Yardbirds song?)

Goelden gerl on em goelden sanz...

Sheez a raenbo...

Its a token for this short jernee...


Eastern Shore, 1

Here are a few images of a short trip to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and to a park at the southern tip.

 From our hotel room window:

On the trails in Kiptopeke State Park, a view up thru the canopy:

 Same as above, posterized:

 Kiptopeke overlook, facing inland:

 On the trails in Kiptopeke State Park, some cottony bushes:

Speaking of cotton, one a them ole cotton fields back home:

 Local groundcover:

 The inevitable sunset pic, from the beach just down the street from our hotel:

 Same as above, posterized:

Same as above, into pure energy:

b'deya, b'deya, b'deya... that's all, folks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Images of my wife

For our 36th anniversary, I made a little card for my wife (sorry Hallmark, I NEVER buy cards). The cover picture was the Dancing Tara image I produced for my Ottoman Beachcomber ebook (you can view the image at: Inside the card I printed out a small collection of excerpts of the many images of Nancy in my poetry. Below you can read those excerpts. You will see that the long poem, Song ov Elmallahz Kumming (written in 6 books) prominently appears in this collection. That's because the poem is all about us. Of course, Elegies in Nance, a 9 poem series, is also about us. And then there are many dozens of individual poems, and an untold number of images and scenes appearing in other long poems, including In the Ruwenz of the Tempel, I Herd... and The Atternen Juez Talen.


From Weighing the Golden Thredz:
Her radient chambers, and the bed ov her luv
Ware she let fall her shados, and my Sol enkindeld with the lite.

From Elegy over the Sea:
Are the young girls now so fine as she, when I knew her?
Impossible to tell; I see her face in theirs.
She made me a pagan; I idolized her body.
And if that were a sin, I would not repent.
And though her face was pale it was yet more glowing
Than the worship of that God that made religion.

From Elegies for Nance:
Your body was the myth, I merging into it.
Your love was the liquor I drank till my mind swam with Ertha.

From Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Bouk 1:
Az if erlee don and the faent kry ov loonz
Made faenter by vaperz that shrowd the salt marshez,
So her vois wuz vage, misteereyus.

Az if a wouman meerlee puling a brush thru her hare,
But in that deseptivlee simpel moshun
A meerreyad illuzhenz surrownded her prezzens,
Exerting thair powwer like a werlpull
Agenst my feer ov her inkoherens.

From Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Bouk 2:
No! I wil not sing ov separaten. No, not ov sorro eether!
Let me tel yu how I luvd her, tel yu how it wuz between us.
In this way, perhaps, I kan sho yu wy it wuz I kame tu her.

From Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Bouk 3:
Ritten the storee ov my huzbandz demize,
Him hu klaemd immorten knowen
And iz ded and awl hiz tablets ar krak....
Oenlee this tu tel:  wen, in my armz he lay
    And he wuz enlarjd,
    Awl the annallogz ov my luv
    Swam in hiz vaenz, awl the goedz
    Shot forth taelz frum thaer mowthz.
    Then I knu wut luv wuz!

From Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Bouk 4:
Az if the wind wer bloing and stirring the surfas tu Life...
Az if an oyster wer openning tu offer up its perl...
Theyodorra rizez tu the surfas ov the see
Eskorted by dolfinz hu playfullee sport at the wotterz ej.
She standz in korrona ov jem-like droplets
And steps owt ov the kristellin See.
Her boddee iz koppergoeld, strong, and naked;
Her eyz ar dark with shaddoez;
Yu ar staring and she knoez it.
She iz akting; she iz perfektlee at eez.

From Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Bouk 5:
O Ertha, O Ertha, abzorbd intu yur pashen
The werl iz bekum like a foggee beech.
Ware iz the Sol and ware ar yu
Hidden in the dens and dreemlike vaperz?

From Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Bouk 6:
Now in the getto, now on the beech.
Now in the smoke stak, now in the see.
Awl her moments wash owt ov her skin.
She iz Eve, she iz Addom, she iz Erthah aggen.

Frum affar seez Erthah her Elmallah
On Mownt Hermoen in the rizzen sun.
And he seez her rizen like Venes
Frum the see, her Soel koyeld in the waevz.

From The Atternen Juez Talen, Era 5, Part 1:
Surah! Yur pure an holee waez
Ar but a fadee memmer now.
Her, hu iz my neshammah, Nayomee,
Thaer I fownd yu ferst.
Thaer ar abbundens, ar luv, ar chieldz
Ar trubbellee dayz, ar wizdem fule.

From The Atternen Juez Talen, Era 8, Part 2:
An then az if an aenjel fliez intu the rume an seeng a salm,
The dotter ov Shah-ool, Batkoel, enkwiyerenz

In a seeng-song toen, she, 
Huze vois I nevver herden, so sweet an perfek in akkord
An like an ood*, she strum my seel,
            * Middel Eesten mewzakkel instrumen
    "Tel me wut yur Surahz like." [she sez tu me.]

My tung, my miend, the herts ov me awl taengel up.
Wut kan I say? An wuns aggen my fase tern red
Az I simmerz in the spise ov her.

Aggen she laf in my un-eez, but not a sharp or pointee laf,
But like she touk my han an sez
    ‘I even like that part ov yu.'

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Genesis/Beraysheet: an analysis

The Torah is read weekly in synagogues around the world. Indeed every synagogue reads the exact same portion each week. To this end, the Torah is divided into sections, parshiot (singular: parashah), each of similar length. Now after the holiday of Sukkot (tabernacles) ending in Simchat Torah ("rejoicing in the Torah"), we begin again, as we do each year, at the beginning of the Torah, with the parashah named Beraysheet (common spelling: Bereshit), pronounced ba-RAY-sheet. It is probably one of the best known parshiot (sections), the story of creation, including Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, Cain's killing of Abel, and then the next ten generations of humankind.

The following is a kind of structural analysis of Beraysheet, ala Levi-Strauss. It is my preferred way of giving a first reading to a Torah text. I break the text into its component sub-documents, based on perspective, information content, grammar-structure, and questions the text appears to be addressing. I also try to make sure that I look at the text both from the point of view (pov) of an author writing the text (what am I trying to tell my readers?), and as a reader, asking why does the author think this is important.

So here is a structural analysis of Beraysheet, Genesis 1:1 to 6:8.

1:1 - 1:23      myth; cosmology; early science including origin of species, with evolutionary perspective; source material for this narrative includes texts and concepts from other cultures, and thus is highly layered and multi-cultural; for the relationship of myth to science, see Malinowski, et al.
1:24 - 1:25    classification of species
1:26              hierarchy of life
1:28              a blessing
1:27 - 2:8     continuing with myth-science
2:9                origin of ethics
2:10 - 2:14    geography and mapping; geology
2:15 - 2:17    divine origin of law
2:18 - 2:20    continuing with myth-science
2:21 - 2:22    surgery, medicine, bio-engineering
2:23 - 2:25    continuing with myth-science
3:1- 3:7        origin of deceit
3:8 - 3:11     awakening of self-consciousness; developmental psychology
3:12 - 3:20   first crime and punishment; also origin of dissatisfaction, sorrow, pain
3:21              origin of clothing fabrication
3:22 - 3:23    origin of mortality; strange text - God speaks with other divine/eternal beings
3:23 - 3:24    human exile
4:1                etymology
4:1 - 4:2       origin of occupations/professions;
4:3 - 4:4        first sacrificial offerings described
4:5                God is partial and can appear unfair, for no reason
4:5 - 4:12      psychological analysis; impulse to anger/murder; human social responsibility
4:13 - 4:16    there are other humans!! where did they come from? clearly intimates that the text so far, or at least the Adam/Eve story, is not to be taken as literal, but metaphorical or allegorical
4:17 - 4:26    genealogy
4: 23 - 4:24   embedded poem with definite prosodic and conceptual structure
5:1                first reference of multiple books comprising Torah
5:2 - 6:1        genealogy; origin of nations; one explanation for the impossibly long lives of the people - they are tribal lives, not human lives; another explanation: the myth of human decline
6:2, 6:4         another reference to other divine/eternal/super-human beings
6:3                genetic/inherent limits to longevity
6:5                psychology
6:6 - 6:7       non-linearity of human development; (flood myth is reference to other cultural literary/historical sources)
6:8               God’s partiality; God’s merciful nature; reward of obedience

Friday, October 12, 2012

Atternen Juez Talen - the Dammaskis roed

The following is a 2-stanza excerpt from The Atternen Juez Talen, early in the story, as our hero flees Jerusalem and the Roman conquerors. I present two versions. The first is the "meta-English" (stevetok) version. For those who want to check their reading, reflect on the grammatical and linguistic changes, or just can't figure out the meta-English, there's a standard English version below. You'll see, the text is really not hard to understand. The stevetok version is simply more layered, conveying more effectively the essential translucency of "reality."
Meta-English (stevetok) version:

So thaer I wer on that Dammaskis roed,
North a Tavveeryah, an thru Gawlan*.        * Romen lanz noreest a Lake Tavveeryah
Romen masenz an us lokel slaevz
Laed this roed an pield its brijjez.
An now, the krossen eech humpbak brij,
Thay extorten a toelz, a buksheeshen too.
Thats wy I kawlz it 'that dam asskis roed'.
Tu pave a hiway for Sezerz troops,
Thay braken ar baks tu lay the makkaddem,
An taken ar skrach tu wok it now.

Heer ar fother, Yah'akkoev*                        * Jakeb
Wokt hizselz on the way tu Kharron.            * Beraysheet 28:10
Laen him hed on a stane that niets
An up raze a staerway, an aenjelz klime
Owt ov ar gravvelz* tu kristellee korts.        *eka d'omray: grovvelz
Now, jes louk at theze kerstee staenz,
Dustee an gray. Lay yur baenz
Uppon em a-nite, but doen expek
Seengen an starz an soren dreemz,
But steengen sarroez an a soren bak.

Standard English version:

So there I was on that Damascus road,
North of Tiberias, and through Gaulan*.        * Roman territories NE of Lake Kineret
Roman masons and us local slaves
Laid this road and piled its bridges.
And now, to cross each humpback bridge,
They extort a toll and bakshish, too.
That's why I call it 'that damn asskiss road'.
To pave a highway for Caesar's troops,
They broke our backs to lay the macadam,
And take our scratch to walk it now.

Here our father, Ya'akov*                         * Jacob
Walked himself on the way to Haran.        * See Genesis 28:10
Laid his head on a stone at night
And up rose a stairway, and angels climbed
Out of our gravel* to crystal courts**.        *others say: grovels; 

                                                                            ** quartz?
Now, just look at these crusty stones,
Dusty and gray. Lay your bones
Upon them at night, but don't expect
Singing and stars and soaring dreams,
But stinging sorrows and a sore back.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Announcing A Pilgrimmage tu Jerusalem ebook

I'm pleased to announce that my ebook, A Pilgrimmage tu Jerusalem is now available for purchase online at these locations:

Through Vook, where I built the book:

The Apple iTunes store:

Through Amazon, for the Kindle:

Soon to be available through B&N for the Nook.

It's great reading, including illustrations by the author!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Museum Explorations (and website building)

I'm developing two educational tours of local museums, piloted under the name Museum Explorations.

I have found that most students (and most adults) move through museums in a very passive manner. At best they learn some facts and experience some remarkable (but easily forgotten) images. Real learning, which is to say, real knowledge building requires active learning and context building.

So I am developing "walking classrooms" based on the principles of Understanding by Design, and using active learning methods. Contact me if you want to learn more about walking classrooms and Museum Explorations.

In the process of developing the curriculum, I realized I needed a new website as a storefront. Building a website can be an intimidating process. Even the designing stages require a lot of work that can't be off-loaded onto a website developer. The following blips give a peek into what I've learned.

First, it's best to have a knowledgeable son. My son, my mentor, and often my inspiration, Josh, has been an invaluable help.

Even if you want to create your own web design from the ground up, it's critical to search the web to see what models will best suit your needs and your aesthetics. Here's two sites that I have found to be remarkably helpful. Both provide ready-made templates for websites. There are dozens of websites providing free or reasonably priced templates. However, these two sites stand out because they both gave me rapid and extremely helpful feedback when I queried them with questions ranging from "what software should I use?" to "do I have to web-host with you?

Dream Templates

4Templates also suggested I check out the open source (free) software package, BlueGriffon. If you're developing the website yourself, you'll need the proper editing software to customize any template you use, or to build the site from the ground up. 

Here's BlueGriffon's address:

Thanks Josh, 4Templates, DreamTemplates, and BlueGriffon!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Announcing... Ottoman Beachcomber For Sale

Yes, it's official! Ottoman Beachcomber is available as an ebook for the modest price of $4.99. Simply click on the following link to preview or purchase:

The link above accesses the Vook portal. Vook is the cloud software I use to build and market ebooks. But you can also find Ottoman Beachcomber on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and via iBooks.

It's a great read. Buy it today!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ottoman Beachcomber ebook ready

A preview version of my ebook Ottoman Beachcomber is now available! Write to me if you want to download a free copy. Here's the cover image:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ottoman Beachcomber - 4 images

I'm taking a short break from The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming to complete an ebook version of what I believe is a delightful little history I wrote 30 years ago (gasp!), Ottoman Beachcomber - Travels in the Balkans and Turkey, 1983.

I built the template in Jutoh, a nice, and very affordable ebook builder. Now I'm moving to the cloud to work in Vook, which provides much finer formatting capabilities. It shouldn't take more than 8 hours to put it all together and wrap it up in a sharp little package.

In the meantime, here are 4 notable images, digitized and transformed from slides that Nancy took in 1983. I thought you might enjoy them. Double click any image and they'll all pop up as a little slide show.

This one is Dancing Tara, an overlay of a photo of Nancy on a temple painting of the goddess Tara, from the chapter, The Goddess Tara Makes an Appearance.

This pastoral scene, entitled Greek Shepherd, was taken just outside of Edirne, and can be found in the chapter Another Meeting with the Goddess.

I love this one, entitled Noble Worker, of a Turkish harvester. The image can be found in the chapter Further Sketches.

And finally, what kind of travelogue of Turkey would this be if I didn't include at least one image of Poppy Fields? You will find this shot in Turkish Valleys and Yellow Brick Roads.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sleepeeng by Day, Nietmaerz awl Nite

On April 24, 2010 I posted a rewrite of poem in Bouk 6 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Sleepeeng by Day, Nietmaerz awl Nite. With renewed work on Bouk 6, I came across that poem again, and made yet further changes. Here's the first stanza:

Nite and its deth dans. The dog men sirkel,
The tooth men, the slavver men,
The deth skwodz and wield paks.
Heer the skreem, the long traen rumbel.
A berd skreechez and the aer iz torn
By a fether, fluttereeng. Braken ov glass.
Like a razer a flashlite kuts the dark...

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

After Immij, After Karnij

This one scene stands as a late poem in Bouk 6 ov The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. The poems in this fragmented narrative pursue a series of recursive rhythms and images. This poem’s title, rhythms, and images all hark back to other poems, including the one I posted on June 7, 2012: Master Immij, Moelten Immij, which begins:

The areyanz kame down like a woolf on the foeld,
    Like a woolf in the koeld
    Lakking trueth in thaer kode.

Of course, Byron’s classic, The Destruction of Sennacherib, provides the original template of rhythm and image.

After Immij, After Karnij

The areyan kame down like a woolf on a foel,
And hiz teeth wer gleemeeng like pawlish koel,
And the foelz muther reerd, fureyus, appawld,
And krusht the woolfs hed, but her chield lay ded.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mith Will Not Make Us Morrel

Here is another fragment, as I continue to revise Bouk 6 ov The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. These are the opening stanzas of Mith Will Not Make Us Morrel.

Warevver Elmallah ternd, thare wer throngz.
Behiend him krowdz raezd a mitee din.
Befor him thay rusht, gathereeng in a krush.
Grate lamps and torchez, shaddo and fume.

He touk a deep breth.
Hiz nostrelz bern with the aerz,
Like smoke the oxxajjen choekt him.
The werl infuezd hiz blud.

    “O how mennee ajez sins I knu Yur Prezzens?
    “How mennee jenneratenz tu retern?
    “O, louk at my werk, my eddiffis of Soel
    “Koyeld in kaos; Yur Hows, it bernz.

    “I went ammung them
    “Tu glorraffy Yur Name.
    “I passt thru thaer mist
    “Tu rowz thaer Soelz.

    “The krowdz wake up.
    “Thaer breth kwik and akrid.
    “Frum thaer dreemee deziyerz,
    “Naeshenz, thay stampeed.

    “Frum thaer dreemee vizhenz
    “Mith bekumz rellijjen.
    “Wut ar theze illuzhenz
    “Devolven frum the Trueth?

    “Wut ar theze miths?
    “Katheedralz bilt uppon them.
    “But tennamments for justis,
    “And mersee haz no hoem.”

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Master Immij, Moelten Immij

The following poem is part of a long narrative, written as a collection of short, lyrical, semi-discontinuous image/moments. It is taken from Bouk 6 ov The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. Bouk 6 is the story of a Jewish woman’s attempts to escape the net of European nazism during the Shoah. Altho many of the images and ideas in this 36 line poem are connected to previous scenes and images in the 5 prior books, I hope it can still be read and appreciated on its own.

This poem presented particular difficulties to me because of its technical requirements. I am trying to capture the fluid, morphic nature of thought thru the fluid, morphic semi-rhyming of the poem. In the course of arriving at this stage in the poem, I have written enough stanzas, and versions of phrases, to easily quadruple its length. In this post I am presenting only the poem, itself. In my next post I will pull back the curtain, and show some of the phases of the poem’s aural, visual, and conceptual development.

As always, your critical feedback will be of great value to me.

Master Immij, Moelten Immij
The areyanz kame down like a woolf on the foeld,
    Like a woolf in the koeld
    Lakking trueth in thaer kode.
And thay bernd owwer bouks and thay bernd owwer marterz.
    How thay glorreed in thaer fiyer.
    How thay glowwerd and thay merderd.
This land wuz goedless and I, I dident kno it,
    And I, I shoud hav fled it,
    And now insted I feed it.

    Hu ar theze spekterz?
A long-horn ram iz lasht tu a log .
    He chaenjez tu a man,
    Chaend tu my hand.
A preest undressez me in hiz rume;
    So plezzent, I swune.
    Like a beest. Unkleen.
A temptress deklaerz, "faeth will be restord."
    Swaerz she iz an empress.
    A raeth, she faedz.

    Owtlawz stok me intu my dreemz.
My Soel haz rooten deep in this soyel;
    By degreez I abzorbd it.
    Deeplee I am soyeld.
Beests and goests rize owt ov the grownd,
    Poke at my chest,
    Kroek in my throet.
I am shatterd, a meerer, a fase in eech frag.
    Sum point and akkuze.
    Sum faent with abbuse.

    Wuended by hope.
Ar yu areyan woryerz, godless and wield?
    Yur handz ar not bluddee.
    Yur glans iz not brutish.
Torn by my oen remors and disgrase,
    I kan taest my teerz
    Az I choke on my feerz.
Yu glare like a kween and deklare az I kowwer:
    ‘Servile no mor,
    ‘Yu serven ov the Lor.'

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Old caravanserai in Beysehir, Turkey

Working on a fair copy of a poem in book 6 of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. The poem is fairly short, 36 lines, but because of some technical complexities, it has gone thru untold numbers of revisions. I'm closing in, and will publish it here, soon, with a peek behind the surface, to some of the discarded and unrevised lines. In the meantime...

I continue to work on digitizing and restoring slides of Turkey taken in 1983 and 1986. I intend to use some of them for my ebook, Ottoman Beachcomber. Yesterday I came across this image, which allowed for some surprising results. Here's the original, a shot of a ruins of a rather grand caravanserai (pre-industrial truck stop; caravan resting place) in Bey┼čehir (pronounced BAY-sha-heer), a small town in south central Turkey.

There wasn't much I could do with this to enhance it while remaining true to its realism. But then again, as I see it, realism is just the surface of things. With not much effort, I found a lot of color lurking behind the surface. First this:

Which quickly revealed this:

Then this:

And then finally, taking some color away, this:

Who knew there were all those gemstones in the matrix of stone and the mortar mix? In 1983 when we first came across this site, this last picture approximates what I saw. The image prior to the last one is what I speculate Nancy saw when she clicked the shutter.

Friday, May 25, 2012

multi-threaded nature of thought, 2

In the distant past, almost two months ago, I posted a little essay about the superimposing layers of thought going on in the mind at any given moment. I noted that I would post a draft of a scene in The Atternen Jewz Talen that explores this idea directly, that is phenomenologically. Finally, here it is...

Written 3/29/12, 6 Nisson 5772; week ov Tzav
Edited 5/25/12, 4 Sivan 5772, week ov Bamidbar

Like a maed az she step frum a steemee bath,
The beedz a sparkel on brest and cheek,
An she run a kome thru her glissen a hair,
Awl kleen an strate an silver a sheen,
So awl the thred an the braken strand
In my theenk untaengelz in a shivver a lite.

Nayomeez in thaer, her haer streem down
Like a milkee way, awl fiyerree faent;
An the Surah* street in a mobeyus not,
                 * Jewish sittee on the Ewfrateez till about 1000 CE
                    The Atternen Jew livd thaer mennee a yeer
Ov me an a thowzen alleez an dorz.
I wonder like a chiel lost in forlorn,
An in thoze streeten, the krush a shops,
An in them shop, mennee the fase,
An Nayomee an Ellijah a peerenz owt
Ov them straenjerren staers and fammilleyen iyz.

Them fasen like sitteez I wonder thru.
How much iz me-in-them that I see
An how much them that shine thru me?

Surah, Dammask, Allexxandreya...
Ah, Yerrushallaem, yur wawl an yur dung,
An the boyel a worz, the klatter an kry.
Menz awl werkt up, awl God insane.
An them pagen speerz stoken inflame,
Thaer fiyeree feengerz grippen my kor,
That Addom overheeten inside my braen.
An Addom, him kryen for Edenz re-bertht;
Eve in her berth thro; him plow the erth.

Thats the embroiderz a kuller it awl.
But the worpen thredz an weften kord
Az hoel it tugether in a moeshennel feel:
Deziyer - Nayomee in a silkee gown,
An sarroez - me sleepen in a foxxen den.
Despaerz a plunnee - my tatterz a faeth,
An sumhow, wunder twisten in -
The lite a-slant thru a braken dor
On a gerl-chiel tokken tu her raggee dol.
An plunnee a aengerz an thaer feerz an joyz.
Multappel korden a randem arraed,
Shapen eech theenk az it kum unmade.
Shapen me intu thaer atternen taelz
Beneeth my brokaden memmorree.

Well, thats a mor detalen skech a my theenks
Than I ment tu say ov my travvellenz eest.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Restoring the color of the past, 2

In late March of this year, I posted an image recovered from my wife's slide archive, showing the Sultan Beyazit Cami (mosque) in Amasya. I then showed my progressive restoration of the image. (Well, really, some may argue it was not restoration so much as transformation, re-creation.)

Below are a few more notable images recently digitized and then restored/transformed by me. Some or all of these will end up in my ebook, Ottoman Beachcomber (which has also been previewed in this blog)....

Food market in Bergama, original:

Bergama market, newly alive:

Divrigi, dawn, almost:

Divrigi, dawn, really:

This is a cool pic. Nancy climbed the minaret of the Uc Serefeli Cami (mosque) in Edirne, and took a picture across town of the Selimiye Cami. First the original long shot:

Here's the Selimiye close-up (cropped from the original):

Now, here's 3 more of the Selimiye, transformed (definitely NOT simply restored):

Way down yonder in southeast Turkey is Mardin, an ancient town high up on the plateau overlooking Syria. Here's the original, a shot of some people (almost) and the Syrian plain in the background:

Now we can see the people, too. HEY, that's me, with some pals!

Finally, a beautiful shot of the Ishak Pasha Saray (palace), which needs little or no attention:

Buuuut... I gave it some attention anyway. Here's 2 new ways to see Ishak Pasha:

Click on any image to zoom it, and/or to see a slide show of all the images in this post.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Educational tours of the USHMM

Yesterday I led a group of nineteen 8th graders through the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, on a rigorous educational tour. What a great group of students!

One of the exhibits is a room full of shoes with a 5 line poem on the wall written by Moishe Shulstein. The poem, written from the point of view of the shoes, stands as the primary documentation for the exhibit. To counterpoint the poem as a way of making it stand out, and as an exercise in helping the students filter through the vast number of images they had seen so far, I had them each write a poem, written from the point of view of an animal. They had 5 minutes to write something.

The following students gave me permission to publish their poems on my blog. Here they are, unedited. Given the short amount of time they had, perhaps you might be inclined to change a word here or there, but still, I think you’ll be as blown away as I am.

I fly over them,
they are treated so awfully
why do they cry
all I can do is watch
because I am JUST
a bird and they are
JUST Jews.
- - - Daniel Benzikri

I am a bee
I buzz and I sting
I cause so much pain
I hunt prey
I stand by letting people fall below
I am powerless
It is custom for me to cause pain,
but, is it right?
I am a bee,
I am a Nazi.
- - - Ophir Mizrahi

I have seen things no one
else should ever see. I have
seen only bad things for
the last 6 years. I have
seen bodies fall to the
ground after a loud shot.
I have also seen how
bodies have been thrown
into pits. Nearby, I
always see black smoke
coming out. today there
is no more of that.
I can hear celebrating.
There is freedom after all.
- - - Moses Goodman

As I fly
as free as can be
I look down,
and see a terrible thing
As I move through the ocean breeze
It troubles me what I see
I see children dying,
people crying
As the smoke flies up
to me.
I cry, for those who
- - - Gilana Pikover

I fly over the camps
Most disgusting thing I ever saw
How can people be so mean?
- - - Tamir

I am a fox
I was spared because
of my weakness (?) and
my intelligence
I have not been killed
because of my uselessness.
- - - Matthew Levy

Monday, April 02, 2012

multi-threaded nature of thought

My reading, reflecting my interests, spans a wide range of topics. However, the subject of thought – what it is and how we experience it - is almost entirely unexplored (with the exception of some lame and poorly written philosophical treatises on "mind"). It appears that, in large measure, most people think of "a thought" as a distinct, precise, and unalloyed unit, not unlike the idea of the "atom" as imagined in the late 19th century.

That late 19th century "atom", it turned out, is not the ultimate building block of matter, and indeed will probably end up being seen as a fictional unit altogether, discarded from scientific discourse. So too, it is becoming clear that our thoughts are not singular, fundamental units of consciousness, but are complex fabrics woven of many strands and fragments. Or to use another analogy, our thoughts are like symphonic compositions, with multiple instruments playing independent but related, or semi-related consonant and dissonant melodies, tones, and percussive beats.

This understanding of thought is derived from my direct experience, and emerges from the comprehensively documented observations of the highly superimposed nature of consciousness. To use a computing metaphor, human consciousness is a multi-tasking system, and each task is multi-threaded. At any given moment, consciousness is composed of multiple sensations, emotions, thoughts, and higher-order impressions and operations (these latter being beyond the threshold of common awareness), and each sensation, emotion, and thought is multi-threaded.

Most of the time most people are entirely unaware of this symphony of processing going on within them, that comprises human mentation. Indeed, we are wont to reduce this welter of processes to single thoughts, or single emotions, or single sensations, or at most, single (mostly) linear narratives. The arts, of course, challenge this kind of simplification. As noted, the symphony with its multiple instruments playing multiple melodies, phrases, and sounds replicates the multi-threaded nature of human consciousness. The novel, with its complex interacting characters and interwoven story lines replicates both the multi-tasking and multi-threading of consciousness. Yet, nowhere in literature, at least to my knowledge, has this exploration of complexity focused down into the multi-threaded functioning of consciousness itself. At most, we have stream-of-consciousness techniques exploring the uppermost level of awareness and its often non-linear narrative trajectory. 

Having introspectively explored my thinking processes for over 40 years, it seems appropriate (perhaps long overdue) that I now take my perspective down into the multiple threads of thought to try to unpack them. Perhaps the subject may seem more appropriate for a psychological essay or a phenomenological tract. But those forms lack both aesthetic richness and narrative ordering principles, and aesthetics and narrative are core components of consciousness. Therefore I am exploring these horizons of consciousness through a poetic lens, hoping, through a sort of stop-frame process, to expose a more accurate and nuanced representation of human mentation.

In my next post will you will be able to read (and critique) a first draft of just such an exploration.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Restoring the color of the past

I am in the process of digitizing my wife Nancy's slides of Turkey from 1983. They are the pics she took while we traveled around the country, she working on her dissertation, and I writing scenes for Ottoman Beachcomber (to see previous posts on this topic, CLICK HERE). Due to the age of the slides, and perhaps less than favorable photographic conditions at the time, the slides are rather washed out, and they seem to have drifted into the purple registers. For example, here's a picture of the Sultan Beyazit Cami in Amasya:

It's a nice enough picture, but, I think you'll agree, it lacks pizazz. So I started working on it, using Gimp. Step 1:

Not a big change. You may not even notice it: telephone wires gone. Step 2:

Now, that's more like it. This is a beautiful mosque made of gorgeous stone. Step 3:

The mountain in the background recovers some of its fire. And notice, the wagon's delightful paint job is now visible. On to step 4:

Do you see the change?? The boy vanishes! Now step 5 is perhaps a little much, but bear with me:

Is the sky over-bright? Maybe, but I'm not done yet. Now we get to the fun part, making this a visionary experience:

And still one step further:

This is what the world feels like and seems like when you're traveling out on the edge, having the time of your life. The camera may only see that drab first image, but that's not the truth when you're traveling almost-out-of-body!