10.06.2017

Why Jerusalem?

Why Jerusalem, why me?
Why not another city? Why not another man?
One time I stood at the Western Wall
When suddenly - a flock of birds.
They cried and flapped their wings like notes scribbled with wishes
Set free from the massive heavy stones,
Flying to the distance.

Yehuda Amichai.
Tradução minha, com a ajuda e guia da Shim.


?למה ירושלים, למה אני
?למה לא עיר אחרת? למה לא אדם אחר
פעם עמדתי לפני הכותל המערבי
ופתאום, להקת ציפורים עלתה למעלה
בקריאות ובמשק כנפיים, כמו פתקות בקשה
שהשתחררו מבין האבנים הגדולות והכבדות
ועפו אל על

יהודה עמיחי



Imagem @

9.18.2017

Yehuda Amichai —מות אבי

אָבִי פִתְאם, מִכָּל הַחֲדָרִים
.יָצָא לְמֶרְחַקָּיו הַמוּזָרִים

,הָלוֹך הָלַך לִקְרוא לֵאלוהיו
.שֶהוא יָבוא לַעֲזור לָנוּ עַכְשָו

,וֵאלוהִים כְבָר בָּא, כְּמו טורח
.תָלָה את מעילו עַל וָו-יָרֵח

,אַךְ אֶת אָבִינוּ, שֶיָצָא לְהובילו
.יַחֲזִיק הָאֱלוהים לָעַד אֶצְלו

9.16.2017

بالأندلس

the rain has come, rain pours down—
o, the time to meet and love in Andalusia!

جادك الغيث إذا الغيث همى
يا زمان الوصل بالأندلس

Ibn al-Khatib 1313-1374
Texto completo



quales sumus talia sunt tempora

הלל אומר: במקום שאין אנשים השתדל להיות איש

9.14.2017

Ó Stôr!

Clive Holes. Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, Varieties (2004)
The only indigenous attempt - and a schematic one at that - at simplifying the complex rules of Classical Arabic was Anis Furayḥa's نحو عربية ميسرة [Towards a Simplified Arabic], published in 1955. There is a presumably apocryphal story that when some of Furayḥa's academic colleagues who earned their living teaching Classical Arabic saw the title of his book, they protested, يا استاذ شلينا نعيس - liberally translated, "Oh Professor, please don't take away our livelihood!"

9.05.2017

As You Came From The Holy Land

John Ashbery. Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Penguin (1990)
As You Came From The Holy Land 
of western New York state
were the graves all right in their bushings
was there a note of panic in the late August air
because the old man had peed in his pants again
was there turning away from the late afternoon glare
as though it too could be wished away
was any of this present
and how could this be
the magic solution to what you are in now
whatever has held you motionless
like this so long through the dark season 
until now the women come out in navy blue
and the worms come out of the compost to die
it is the end of any season
you reading there so accurately
sitting not wanting to be disturbed
as you came from that holy land
what other signs of earth's dependency were upon you
what fixed sign at the crossroads
what lethargy in the avenues
where all is said in a whisper
what tone of voice among the hedges
what tone under the apple trees
the numbered land stretches away
and your house is built in tomorrow
but surely not before the examination
of what is right and will befall
not before the census
and the writing down of names 
remember you are free to wander away
as from other times other scenes that were taking place
the history of someone who came too late
the time is ripe now and the adage
is hatching as the seasons change and tremble
it is finally as though that thing of monstrous interest
were happening in the sky
but the sun is stting and prevents you from seeing it 
out of night the token emerges
its leaves like birds alightning all at once under a tree
taken up and shaken again
put down in weak rage
knowing as the brain does it can never come about
not here not yesterday in the past
only in the gap of today filling itself
as emptiness is distributed
in the idea of what time it is
when that time is already past
















John Ashbery (1927-2017) In Memoriam 

8.24.2017

La passion grecque

J’ai lu da quelque part que les grecs anciens n’écrivaient pas des nécrologies,
quand quelq’un mourait ils demandaient seulement
avait-il de passion?
quand quelq’un meurt moi aussi je veux savoir de la qualité de sa passion
s’il avait passion pour les choses générales,
eau,
musique,
pour le talent de quelques mots de se déplacer dans le chaos,
pour le corps sauvé des précipices avec un glorieux destin,
passion pour la passion,
est-ce qu’il l’avait?
e alors je m’enquête si moi-même j’ai de la passion,
si je peux mourir grecquement,
quelle passion?
les grands animaux sauvages s’éteintent dans la terre,
les grands poèmes disparaissent dans les grandes langues que disparaissent,
les hommes et les femmes perdent l’aura
dans l’usure
dans la politique,
dans le commerce,
dans l’industrie,
des doigts entrecroisés, il ya doigts que s’inspirent dans les objets qu’attendent,
objets tremblants qu’entrent et que sortent
de les dix si peu des doigts pour tant de
objets dans le monde
et qu’est-ce qu’il y a dans le monde que répond à question grecque,
peut la passion se soutenir avec le fruit mangé encore vivant,
et faire après avec sel gros une chanson tannée par les cicatrices,
mot soufflé dans quel four avec quel souffle,
afin que quelqu’un aurait demandé: avait-il de passion?
détournez de moi le poivrier noir, le gingembre, le giroflier,
mettez de la musique très fort et moi que je danse,
fluide, infini,
saisi par toute la lumière ancienne et moderne,
les aveugles, les tempérés, que non, si seulement je trouverais la passion
et me perdais en elle
la passion grecque


Herberto Helder, A Faca Não Corta o Fogo pp. 205-206 (2008). Assírio & Alvim.
Tradução para o francês minha. Para a Raphaëlle, deposita omni mendorum culpa dataque venia.


Li algures que os gregos antigos não escreviam necrológios,
quando alguém morria perguntavam apenas:
tinha paixão?
quando alguém morre também eu quero saber da qualidade da sua paixão:
se tinha paixão pelas coisas gerais,
água,
música,
pelo talento de algumas palavras para se moverem no caos,
pelo corpo salvo dos seus precipícios com destino à glória,
paixão pela paixão,
tinha?
e então indago de mim se eu próprio tenho paixão,
se posso morrer gregamente,
que paixão?
os grandes animais selvagens extinguem-se na terra,
os grandes poemas desaparecem nas grandes línguas que desaparecem,
homens e mulheres perdem a aura
na usura,
na política,
no comércio,
na indústria,
dedos conexos, há dedos que se inspiram nos objectos à espera,
trémulos objectos entrando e saindo
dos dez tão poucos dedos para tantos
objectos do mundo
e o que há assim no mundo que responda à pergunta grega,
pode manter-se a paixão com fruta comida ainda viva,
e fazer depois com sal grosso uma canção curtida pelas cicatrizes,
palavra soprada a que forno com que fôlego,
que alguém perguntasse: tinha paixão?
afastem de mim a pimenta-do-reino, o gengibre, o cravo-da-índia,
ponham muito alto a música e que eu dance,
fluido, infindável,
apanhado por toda a luz antiga e moderna,
os cegos, os temperados, que não, que ao menos me encontrasse a paixão
e eu me perdesse nela
a paixão grega


8.23.2017

Nympha [I]

§1

Giorgio Agamben. Ninfe. pp 39-45 (2007) Bollati Bolinghieri
[Nel trattato di Paracelso De nymphis, sylphis, pygmeis et salamandris et caeteris spiritibus] la ninfa si inscrive nella dottrina bombastiana degli spiriti elementari (o creature spirituali), ciascuno dei quali è legato a uno dei quattro elementi: la ninfa (o ondina) all’acqua, i silfi all’aria, i pigmei (o gnomi) alla terra e le salamandre al fuoco. Ciò che definisce questi spiriti — e la ninfa in particolare — è che essi, pur essendo nell’aspetto in tutto simili all’uomo, non sono stati generati da Adamo, ma appartengono a un grado secondo della creazione, «diverso e separato tanto dagli uomini che dagli animali». Esiste, secondo Paracelso, una «duplice carne»: una che viene da Adamo, crassa e terrena, e una non adamitica, sottile e spirituale. (Questa dottrina, che implica, per certe creature, una creazione speciale, sembra l’esatta controparte della dottrina de La Peyrére della creazione preadamitica dei gentili). Ciò che definisce, in ogni caso, gli spiriti elementari, è che essi non hanno un’anima, e non sono quindi né uomini né animali (in quanto posseggono ragione e linguaggio), e nemmeno propriamente spiriti (in quanto hanno un corpo). Più che animali e meno che umani, ibridi di corpo e di spirito, essi sono puramente e assolutamente «creature»: creati da Dio negli elementi mondani e soggetti come tali alla morte, essi sono per sempre fuori dall’economia della salvezza e della redenzione: 
«Benché siano entrambe le cose, cioè spirito e uomo, non sono tuttavia né l’una cosa né l’altra. Non possono essere uomini, perché si muovono come spiriti; non possono essere spiriti, perché mangiano, bevono e hanno carne e sangue (…). Sono quindi creature particolari, diverse dalle prime due e formata da una sorta di mistione della loro doppia natura, come un composto di dolce e di aspro o come due colori in un’única figura. Si deve ribadire, però, che, pur essendo in un certo modo tanto spiriti che uomini, non sono né l’uno né l’altro. L’uomo ha un’anima, lo spirit ne è privo. Queste creature sono entrambe le cose e tuttativa non hanno anima; ma nemmeno sono, per questo, spiriti. Lo spirito, infatti, non muore; la creature muore. Nemmeno è come l’uomo, perché non ha anima. È dunque un animale, e, tuttavia, più che animale. Muore come gli animali, ma il corpo animale non ha, come lui, una mente. È dunque un animale che parla e ride proprio come glio uomini (…). Cristo è nato e morto per coloro che hanno un’anima e sono stati generati da Adamo. Non per queste creature, che non provengono da Adamo: pur essendo in qualche modo uomini, mancano di un’anima». 
Paracelso si sofferma con una sorta di amorosa compassione sul destino di queste creature del tutto simili all’uomo, e tuttavia condannate senza colpa a una vita puramente animale: «Sono un popolo di umani, che muoiono, però, con be lestie, camminano con gli spiriti, mangiano e bevono con gli uomini. Muoiono come animali, senza che nulla rimanga di essi. La loro riproduzione è simile a quella umana… e tuttavia non muoiono come gli uomini, ma come il bestiame. Come ogni carne, anche la loro carne si corrompe (…). Nei costumi, nei gesti, nella lingua, nella saggezza sono perfettamente umani; come gli uomini, virtuosi o viziosi, migliori o peggiori (…). Vivono com gli uomini sotto una legge, mangiano l’opera delle loro mani, tessono per sé vesti che indossano come gli uomini, usando della ragione e governando le loro comunità con giustizia e saggezza. Benché siano animali, hanno l’umana ragione — solo sono privi dell’anima. Per questo non possono servire Dio né camminare nelle vie del Signore.» 
Come uomini non umani, gli spiriti elementari di Paracelso costituiscono l’archetipo ideale di ogni separazione dell’uomo da se stesso (l’analogia col popolo ebraico è anche qui sorprendente). Ciò che definisce, tuttavia, la specifità delle ninfe rispetto alle altre creature non adamitiche, è che sse possono ricevere un’anima se si uniscono sessualmente con un uomo e generano con lui un figlio. Qui Paracelso si collega a un’altra, più antica tradizione, che legava indissolubilmente le ninfe al regno di Venere e alla passione amorosa (e che è all’origine tnato del termine psichiatrico «ninfomania» che, forse, di quello anatomico che designa come nymphae le piccole labbra della vagina). Secondo Paracelso, infatti, molto «documenti» attestano che le ninfe «non soltanto appaiono agli uomini, ma hanno commercio sessuale (copulatae coiverint) con essi e generano dei figli». Se ciò avviene, tanto la ninfa che la sua prole ricevono un’anima e diventano così veramente umane. «Ciò può essere provato con molti argomenti, in quanto, pur non essendo eterne, si uniscono con gli uomini e lo diventano — cioì acquistano, come gli uomini, un’anima. Dio le ha infatti create così simili e conformi agli uomini, che nulla si potrebbe pensare di più somigliante. Ma vi aggiunse il miracolo di privarle dell’anima. Ma unendosi agli uomini in stabile unione, allora questa unione conferisce loro un’anima (…). È chiaro, dunque, che senza gli uomini sarebbero animali, come gli uomini senza il patto con Dio sarebbero nulla (…). Per questa ragione le ninfe ricercano gli uomini e spesso si accoppiano in segreto con essi.» 
Tutta la vita delle ninfe è posta da Paracelso sotto il segno di Venere e dell’amore. Se egli chiama «Monte di Venere» la società delle ninfe (collectio et conversatio, quam Montem Veneris appellitant… — congregatio quaedam nympharum in antro… — come non riconoscere qui un topos per eccellenza della poesia amorosa), è perché Venere stessa non è, in verità, che una ninfa e un’ondina, anche se la più alta in rango e un tempo, prima di morire (qui Paracelso si confronta a suo modo col problema della sopravvivenza degli dei pagani) la loro regina (iam vero Venus Nympha est et undena, caeteris dignior et superior, quae longo quidem tempore regnavit sed tandem vita functa est)». 
Condannate in questo modo a un’incessante, amorosa ricerca dell’uomo, le ninfe conducono sulla terra un’esistenza parallela. Create non a immagine di Dio, ma dell’uomo, esse ne costituiscono una sorta di ombra o di imago, e, come tali, perpetuamente accompagnano e desiderano — e ne sono, a loro volta, desiderate — ciò di cui sono immagine. E solo nell’incntro con l’uomo le immagini inanimate acquistano un’anima, diventano veramente vive: «E come abbiamo detto che l’uomo è un’immagine di Dio, plasmata secondo la sua immagine, così si può dire che queste creature sono le immagini dell’uomo, formate secondo la sua immagine. E come l’uomo non è Dio, anche se fatto a sua immagine, così queste creature, pur essendo creatre a ummagine dll’uomo, rimangono quali sono state plasmate, come l’uomo rimane tale quale Dio lo ha creato.»
La storia dell’ambigua relazione fra gli uomini e le ninfe è la storia della difficile relazione fra l’uomo e le sue immagini.

§2

Claudio Monteverdi, Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi (1683)




«Amor», dicea, e ’l piè,
mirando il ciel, fermò,
«Dove, dov’è la fe’
che ’l traditor giurò?»

Miserella, ah più no, no,
tanto gel soffrir non può.

«Fa che ritorni il mio
amor com’ei pur fu,
o tu m’ancidi, ch’io
non mi tormenti più.
Non vo’ più ch’ei sospiri
se non lontan da me,
no, no che i martiri
più non darammi affè.
Perché di lui mi struggo,
tutt’orgoglioso sta,
che si, che si se ’l fuggo
ancor mi pregherà?
Se ciglio ha più sereno
colei che ’l mio non è,
già non rinchiude in seno
amor si bella fè.
Né mai sì dolci baci
da quella bocca avrai,
nè più soavi, ah taci,
taci, che troppo il sai.»


§3

Aby Warburg, Atlas-Mnemosyne. Painel 46 [The Nymph: Collection of variations on the girl carrying fruit in Ghirlandaio's The Birth of John the Baptist]



6.15.2017

Language learning in the Crusader States

Christopher Tyerman. God's War: A New History of the Crusades pp. 234-235 Penguin (2006)
Inevitably, some Franks did learn local languages as well as more generally becoming acculturated with the Near East in diet, dress, hygiene, economic activity and accommodation. A smattering of Arabic for judicial, diplomatic or administrative purposes may have been common place; at least one western knight, William de Preaux, managed to learn the Arabic for king, malik, during the Third Crusade, using it to divert the attention of Turkish troops away from Richard I during an ambush near Jaffa in 1191. Learning to speak, even read, other languages came as less of a burden to twelfth-century western aristocrats than to some of their modern successors. In addition to his own local vernacular, an educated nobleman would have daily confronted Latin (if only in church or at prayers) and probably numerous other vernaculars, if only orally. Henry II of England was fluent in northern French and Latin, with a smattering of other western European languages; his son Richard I cracked jokes in Latin and recited verse in northern and southern French. To rule England or Sicily, Norman rulers or their officials needed to be trilingual; Bohemund [de Antioquia] spoke Greek. 
Among the Frankish nobility in Outremer [Estados Cruzados], captivity provided a more peculiar school of languages; during his imprisonment in the 1160s, Raymond III of Tripoli learnt Arabic, probably not a unique pastime among long-stay prisoners. Others acquired Arabic out of curiosity, intellectual energy, political judgement or necessity. Reynald lord of Sidon (1171-1200) employed a Muslim language teacher, enjoyed religious debate and studied Arabic literature. Sufficiently fluent and adept to charm Saladin himself, Reynald used his linguistic skill to bamboozle the sultan into withdrawing from his stronghold at Beaufort in May 1189 and buy a year’s grace and good surrender terms for his castle. Later Reynald acted as a diplomat in negotiations with Saladin during the Third Crusade. Another Frankish noble who, according to Saladin’s associate and biographer Baha’ al-Din Ibh Shaddad (1145-1234), spoke Arabic well was the effeminate Humphrey III of Thoron, whose linguistic talent was in turn employed by Richard I of England in his negotiations with Saladin in 1191. Both Reynald and Humphrey came from families long established in Outremer, their proficiency in Arabic, while striking Arabic chroniclers as sufficiently unusual to be worthy of note perhaps reflecting a growing facility among the Latin rulers, surrounded as they were, even in their own households, by Arabic-speaking Christians as well as a few Muslims and Arabized Jews. 
Throughout the twelfth century, chance comments or descriptions of exchanges between Franks and Arabic-speaking neighbours, even at the level of spying, hint at a perhaps wide pool of linguists. The parallel may be with Anglo-Norman England, Sicily and Spain, where conquerors encountered resilient and sophisticated local languages of learning, literature, government and an indigenous social elite. Again, in the context of relations with Syrian Christians, the desire to communicate, even if not strictly imperative for political or administrative survival, appears unsurprising. Much the same could be said of other eastern elite languages. The charter recording the negotiations between the Hospitallers and Meletus the Syrian archbishop of Gaza and Bethgibelin of 1173 is bilingual in Latin and Greek. The Edessan nobleman Baldwin or Marasch, killed in a failed attempt to recapture Edessa in 1146, spoke fluent Armenian and employed an Armenian priest as his confessor. 


Notários gregos, árabes [sarracenos], e latinos na chancelaria normana da Sicília, séc. XII.
Fonte: Cod. 120.II Liber ad honorem Augusti de Pietro da Eboli, c.1197 Folio 101r
Burgerbibliothek Bern, aka BBB [Biblioteca Municipal de Berna]

5.27.2017

freedom ancient & modern (Arendt)

Hannah Arendt. On Revolution. pp.30-31 Penguin (1963)
Freedom as a political phenomenon was coeval with the rise of the Greek city-states. Since Herodotus, it was understood as a form of political organization in which the citizens lived together under conditions of n-rule, without a division between rulers and ruled. This notion of no-rule was expressed by the word isonomy, whose outstanding characteristic among the forms of government, as the ancients had enumerated them, was that the notion of rule (the 'archy' from ἄρχειν in monarchy and oligarchy, or the 'cracy' from κρατεῖν in democracy) was entirely absent from it. The polis was supposed to be an isonomy, not a democracy. The word 'democracy', expressing even then majority rule, the rule of the many, was originally coined by those who were opposed to isonomy and who meant to say: What you say is 'no-rule' is in fact only another kind of rulership; it is the worst form of government, rule by the demos. 
Hence, equality, which we, following Tocqueville's insights, frequently see as a danger to freedom, was originally almost identical with it. But this equality within the range of the law, which he word isonomy suggested, was not equality of condition — though this equality, to an extent, was the condition for all political activity in the ancient world, where the political realm itself was open only to those who form a body of peers. Isonomy guaranteed ἰσότης, equality, but not because all men were born or created equal, but, on the contrary, because men were by nature (φύσει) not equal, and needed an artificial institution, the polis, which by virtue of its νόμος would make them equal. Equality existed only in this specifically political realm, where men met one another as citizens and not as private persons. The difference between this ancient concept of equality and our notion that men are born or created equal and become unequal by virtue of social and political, that is man-made, institutions can hardly be over-emphasized. The equality of the Greek polis, its isonomy, was an attribute of the polis and not of men, who received their equality by virtue of citizenship, not by virtue of birth. Neither equality nor freedom was understood as a quality inherent in human nature, they were both not φύσει, given by nature and growing out by themselves; they were νόμῳ, that is, conventional and artificial, the products of human effort and qualities of the man-made world.

5.10.2017

patristics in full cry

Garth Fowden. Before and After Muhammad: The First Millenium Reconsidered p.13 Princeton UP (2013)
The deliberations of [the Council of Nicaea at 787] allow us a fascinating glimpse of a world of ambitious, frequently irate bishops and slanted scholarship based on the corruption or forgery of proof texts, in other words patristics in full cry, powered as much by testosterone as testimonia.

4.27.2017

οἰκοδομεῖν

וּמִי יַעֲצָר־כֹּח֙ לִבְנוֹת־לוֹ בַיִת כִּי הַשָּׁמַיִם וּשְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לֹא יְכַלְכְּלֻהוּ וּמִי אֲנִי אֲשֶׁר אֶבְנֶה־לּוֹ בַיִת כִּי אִם־לְהַקְטִיר לְפָנָיו

Quem lhe construiria uma casa, se nem os céus, nem os céus dos céus o podem conter? 
E quem sou eu que lha construa, se não para que queime incenso na Sua presença?

Segundo Livro de Crónicas 2:5
Tradução minha

تحت جنح الظلام

יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאת לַחֲסוֹת תַּחַת־כְּנָפָיו

O Sᴇɴʜᴏʀ é o Deus de Israel
sob cujas asas buscaste refúgio.

Rute 2:12
Tradução minha

4.26.2017

there and back again

הֲשִׁיבֵנִי וְאָשׁוּבָה כִּי אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי

traz-me de volta para que eu regresse
porque tu és o Sᴇɴʜᴏʀ meu Deus

Jer 31:18
Tradução minha

4.23.2017

Relationship goals

 וַיַּגֶּד־לָהּ שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת־כָּל־דְּבָרֶיהָ לֹֽא־הָיָה דָּבָר נֶעְלָם מִן־הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר לֹא הִגִּיד לָֽהּ  
E Salomão respondeu a tudo que [a Rainha de Sabá] lhe perguntou - e não houve nada que lhe fosse obscuro a que ele não fosse capaz de lhe responder.
1 Reis 10:3
Tradução minha

4.22.2017

קוֹל אֹמֵר קְרָא
וְאָמַר מָה אֶקְרָא

diz uma voz: Chama!
e a resposta: Chamo o quê?

Isaías 40:6
Tradução minha

4.18.2017

navigare necesse est

أمرتي بركوب البحرمغتررا
عليك غيري فأمره بذا الراء
ما أنت نوح فتنجيني سفينته
ولست عيسى أنا أمشي على الماء

mandas-me a cavalgar o mar, eu que nunca antes lhe toquei —
busca-te alguém que não eu, que o mandes à espuma das ondas!
não és tu Noé que me salve a sua arca
nem eu Jesus que caminhe sobre as águas

Ibn Rashīq (390-456 AH)
Tradução minha

dois versos do Avicena

هبطت اليك من السماء الارفع
ورقاء ذات ترفع وتمنع

Dos céus mais altos [a tua alma] desceu sobre ti
Uma pomba orgulhosa e hesitante

Avicena
tradução minha

3.23.2017

ΘΑΥΜΑ

διὰ γὰρ τὸ θαυμάζειν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καὶ νῦν καὶ τὸ πρῶτον ἤρξαντο φιλοσοφεῖν
it is because of wonder that people both before and now have set themselves upon philosophy
(Aristotelis Metaphysica 982b.12-13)

إذا عرف السّبب بطل العجب
wonder disappears if the reason is known
(Não encontrei a fonte; Provérbio?)

3.08.2017

מָה

מָה אֱנוֹשׁ כִּי־תִזְכְּרֶנּוּ 
וּבֶן‏־אָדָם כִּי־תִפְקְדֶנּוּ

o que é o Humano que te lembres dele,
um filho de Adão que nele atendas?

Salmos 8:4
Tradução minha

1.31.2017


Mira-me Miguel como estou de bonitica
Xaia de burel camijica de estupica

Tenho três obelhas, mais uma cordeira,
Quero-me cajar e não acho quem me queira

Baila, Pedro, baila! — Xenhora, quero pão! —
Baila mais um pouco, que lhogo to darão!

Bamos à la cama, bamos a dormir,
Eu lhevo la manta, e eu lhevo o cantil.

1.29.2017

the Judaization of modern Western civilization

Dan Miron. From Continuity to Contiguity, Thoughts on the Theory of Jewish Literature. in Jewish Literatures and Cultures, Context and Intertext. (Norich & Eliav edd.) pp. 33-35. Brown University Press (2008) 
What we should part with—indeed, what we must exorcise from our cognitive system—is the obsessive theoretical craving for all-encompassing unities and continuities. Though we can understand the deep cultural insecurities that give rise to such cravings, and even aesthetically relish the beautifully arranged projections by which such insecurities are kept at bay, we cannot afford to let them replace historical realities. This is not a call for the banishing of ideological considerations from historical and literary thinking. Such banishment is both impossible and unwarranted. All history is informed by ideological considerations. However, ideological projection and wishful thinking are not one and the same. An authentic, scholarly historical narrative can balance such inevitable projections with a genuine interest in the ever so complex and multifarious facets of historical reality. The more we study the realities of the Jewish literary complex the less we feel the need to superimpose upon them a symbolic order (in the Lacanian sense of the term), to organize them hierarchically under an overarching principle. We should remind ourselves that the hierarchically tiered systems we are often offered by cultural theorists are at best no more than temporary and fluid constructions. Almost all can be differently arranged with lower, recessive, and conditioned tiers replacing the upper, dominant, and conditioning ones. The hierarchy is o en only in the eye of the ideological beholder. That is an important lesson we can and should learn from observing closely the Jewish literary complex, and especially its modern evolution since the second half of the eighteenth century. Modern Jewish history, with its wildly colliding crosscurrents, did not allow for the emergence of one unified modern Jewish culture or for an integral, albeit multilingual, modern Jewish literature. It rather forces upon the scholarly observer the realization that Jewish culture and literature were fragmented beyond repair. 
It was this realization that sent the early Zionist and Yiddishist theorists on their wild-goose chase after ideologically wished-for but historically impossible unities and continuities. Without necessarily adopting post-Zionist a itudes, I believe we can reverse this process. Zionist theorists, we know, sought a new, or revived, Jewish normalcy: this normalcy would entail a reunification of an exiled and sca ttered people, as well as a reorganization and streamlining of this people’s abnormal, fractured, and scattered cultural legacy. If we accept the so-called abnormality of modern Jewish culture, or even assert its essential normality, we can shed new light on the so-called normal literatures which are, in fact, not that much different from the aggregate of Jewish literatures. For these literatures—particularly the richer and more extensive and expansive ones—are ultimately no more than aggregates of their own, governed by projected hierarchies and imagined common denominators. As the scholarship triggered by the theories of minority discourse and minor literatures demonstrate, these hierarchies reflect the relative stability of the social and political power structures that approve of a culture and a literature of a certain tenor. They purport to express and define the universal human ethical identity while, in fact, they assert and define the identity of the sociocultural powers that be. At the same time, they eliminate other identities, through preferences, canonization, marginalization, and exclusion. 
Jewish culture, lacking the organized socioeconomic and political basis that supported the hierarchical structures of other cultures, could not achieve such impositions—no matter how much Jewish ideologues craved them. It was therefore unable to develop a modern Jewish canon. (This very concept is necessarily self-contradictory; Ruth Wisse’s recent treatise, The Modern Jewish Canon, for example, unwittingly demonstrates this by excluding most of the important modern Jewish fiction writers and by disregarding modern Jewish poetry altogether.) 
As a result of these weaknesses, however, modern Jewish culture and literature only made clear what all modern cultures harbored in the depths of their complex and repressive bulks. What has surfaced throughout the second half of the twentieth century is that cultures and literatures that were supposedly national and monolingual have actually been created, in part, by a host of foreigners and neophytes, whose language of writing was not their mother tongue. We have seen members of repressed and peripheral societies— colonial and otherwise—who have deterritorialized and denationalized languages such as English or French. In fact what we see in the last fifty years can be called the Judaization of modern Western civilization, in the sense that what was once regarded as a peculiar and unfortunate Jewish cultural condition has become quite the normal cultural condition of the West as a whole.

1.03.2017

Hölderlin // Die Heimat

[...]

Denn sie, die uns das himmlische Feuer leihn,
     Die Götter. schenken heiliges Leid uns auch.
          Drum bleibe dies. Ein Sohn der Erde
               Schein ich: zu lieben gemacht, zu leiden.

FH. Die Heimat.

1.02.2017

Bruderschaft // um poema da Ingeborg Bachmann

Alles is Wundenschlagen
und keiner hat keinem verziehn.
Verletzt wie du und verletzend,
lebte ich auf dich hin.

Die reine, die Geistberührung,
um jede Berührung vermehrt,
wir erfahren sie alternd,
ins kälteste Schweigen gekehrt.