This article is lushly written and provides a penetrating historical analysis--and somehow accomplishes this with only a few words. Exquisite.
"President Bush lives in a world where in effect it is always the summer of 1945, the Allies have just defeated the Axis, and a world filled with darkness for some six years has been rescued by a new and optimistic democracy, on its way to becoming a superpower. His is a world where other nations admire America or damned well ought to, and America is always right, always on the side of good, in a world of evil, and it's just a matter of getting the rest of the world to understand this. One of Bush's favorite conceits, used repeatedly in his speeches, is that democracies are peaceful and don't go to war against one another. Most citizens of the West tend to accept this view without question, but that is not how most of Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East, having felt the burden of the white man's colonial rule for much of the past two centuries, see it. The non-Western world does not think of the West as a citadel of pacifism and generosity, and many people in the U.S. State Department and the different intelligence agencies (and even the military) understand the resentments and suspicions of our intentions that exist in those regions. We are, you might say, fighting the forces of history in Iraq—religious, cultural, social, and inevitably political—created over centuries of conflict and oppressive rule.
The president tends to drop off in his history lessons after World War II, especially when we get to Vietnam and things get a bit murkier. Had he made any serious study of our involvement there, he might have learned that the sheer ferocity of our firepower created enemies of people who were until then on the sidelines, thereby doing our enemies' recruiting for them. And still, today, our inability to concentrate such "shock and awe" on precisely whom we would like—causing what is now called collateral killing—creates a growing resentment among civilians, who may decide that whatever values we bring are not in the end worth it, because we have also brought too much killing and destruction to their country. The French fought in Vietnam before us, and when a French patrol went through a village, the Vietminh would on occasion kill a single French soldier, knowing that the French in a fury would retaliate by wiping out half the village—in effect, the Vietminh were baiting the trap for collateral killing."
Read the rest. It's worth it.
One year ago July 4 I was on my way to Israel.
Today I finished what I hope is the final draft of my master's thesis.
So I don't forget, I want to write this proud moment down:
Jay Michaelson of Nehirim said he attended a Shavuot in New York (2006), and one of the teachings used my article from Zeek
KVELLING!!! I still feel such honor and pride to be a part of a community that studies as an act of ritual observance and communal transformation.
I'm back in the US. I am going to archive this blog; it will be available as a link from my website: www.brerrabbi.com.
Thanks everyone, for your support during my incredible year in Israel.
I have been successfully "kosher for pesach"!! Well, OK, so it was no challenge because here there's no other option. But still. It's a FIRST!!!
Sandstorm yesterday again. It makes for spooky yellow days. In a sandstaorm you feel like your house is a cave.
The Standard by which I measure all other literature:
Each of us is all the sums he has not counted: subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas.
The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse when unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. The minute-winning days, like flies, buzz home to death, and every moment is a window on all time.
This is a moment:
This writing is RIPPED. Awesome, especially since I have a thing about stinging insects.
Sting: An Excerpt from "Preliminaries"
April 1, 2007
Is Light Unique? Or does all matter behave like a particle and like a wave, and we just haven’t developed the tools to see both states?
I have had some interesting dreams lately, wherein, at the macro level, I perceive an object in two states, but never simultaneously. In my dreams, of course, I understood the phenomenon completely, and could explain it. When I woke up, it was all gone. Perhaps this was one of my nightly physics tutorials, and the Master has finally given up on me. She has more patience than most!
Perhaps this set of dreams has to do with me being in two states at once and feeling membership in, and alienation from, both, in equal measure.
Some of my colleagues have chosen to make aliyah. They are all young, and when I think of the decision tree of their lives, the sequellae from this point boggle the mind. These idealistic yong humans are the future of Israel. She is a lucky Nation. I asked them what drove this move. For some, it is financial necessity; in order to remain in country life must become sustainable, and aliyah manages that hurdle. For others, who as yet remain directionless in life, it is a way to give the best years of their young adulthood to this nation, to serve Israel and her People. Israel’s needs will shape their task in life in a way that the US cannot.
Others have chosen to return to the US, find work, reunite with family, finish school or find work, enriched in as-yet-unenumerated ways by this year as a stranger in one’s own homeland.
Over the past month we have had some apartment repair problems that have been quite unsettling, and some roommate shifts that have been quite unsettling. My work and my health have been disturbed. I hope that in the next few days my schedule will settle down, so work may proceed. Time grows short.
I am so glad to have had my friend John Ronald Reuel along for this journey “there and back again.” A balm, as it were, in Gilead.
Targum Avar proceeds in fits and starts around all the hubub. It is funny now to see the whole thing. It has “layers” like an archaeological dig. The surface parts are unfinished translations. One level deeper are the parts where the translation is completed, and I am probing the tradition in the surrounding strata for cultural meanings associated with the translated words; finding my own words to communicate those meanings. At an equivalent level but in a different kind of rock, I am identifying personal ramifications of those meanings; how they influenced my perception of the text. Both of these tasks may change the translation on the “surface” level, or may yield a different direction for the transformed text that lies at the deepest level. The deepest level, of course, is the transformed text, a double helix containing the original translation and the “old” cultural meanings as one strand of DNA, and the personal and “new” cultural meanings as another.
In recent days my “focus” has sharpened up, and everything I’m doing seems to fall into the perspective that, since the Universe is God experimenting with Form, Torah is God’s Autobiography, and, like a transgender autobiography, contains multiple, discontinuous identities played out over the span of a very long lifetime. The Creation story becomes very interesting when you realize it’s all about One thing, learning.
I sifted the “cleanest” strata of Targum Avar through that sieve. In fact, shaking everything through that sieve is, I think, the only task remaining in Targum Avar proper. The rest is just scribbling.
I have been listening to Martin Luther King Junior’s speeches on my Ipod. What a writer.
I can tell by my state of mind, as exhibited in today’s writing, that I will be back at it in earnest tomorrow. Journaling is a way to skim the cream off the top and save it for tomorrow’s blueberries.
Check out my new website. My roommate Alex built it for me. It ROCKS!
Twain rides the Train
Really nice snow -- too bad it's too warm to stick.
I read a headline this morning that they have in custody (the article doesn't disclose how long they've held him) the guy responsible for 9/11 and every other unattributed terrorist attack of note on the world stage in the past what, something like ten years. He made -- and later retracted -- a claim of torture. He "confessed", but there is no evidence linking him to any of the attacks or planned attacks.
I smell fish, fish, fish.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the Sudan
It's just creepifying.
stayed up all night
watched the sun rise
not sure why
just not sleepy
maybe cuz the whole day was like sleepwalking -- had a very relaxing shabbat, walked around jerusalem and lazed in the park on a bench
did no work no writing no thinking
first time in a long time i gave my self a break
saw some of my peers from pardes on my walkabout
they are so polite and orderly
its a very nice characteristic
i just never seem to have acquired it
went to bed at 6:30am
just as the sun crept over the yard arm
woke up at 2pm this afternoon
had leftover shabbat pastries for breakfast
then made a salad to "sit" for a while till lunch, marinating the vegetables in lemon juice and a little olive oil
then alex came in fresh from his workout and a swim, happy because he had gained a kilo and a half, and he said
i feel so ALIVE
and i said i had stayed up all night, and i felt half dead ...
which was a lie but it seemed appropriate at the time
then he went off to play basketball -- he is working to improve his game
i am surprised that i really don't feel half dead -- i actually feel pretty swell and i am not sure why
still in that odd no-thought zone
my shoulders aren't bunched up around my neck
none of my usual feeling of anxiety that i am so far behind and need to get done NOW
just feeling kinda perkily complaiscent
maybe i had a stroke during the night and my workaholism got zapped away
shah, you shouldn't joke about things like that!
do you want to invoke the evil eye? shah!
oh PLEASE leave me in peace old woman!
now it is 4:30pm and
i have only just checked email
and am sitting with a cuppa coffee
then off to put some Packages in the Post
then another walkabout
then a little dinner shopping
and maybe a nice video
whatdaya think, am i on vacation today too?
oh the jolliness
oh what a beautiful morning
oh what a beautiful day
oh what a beautiful morning
cuz things are goin' my way
love to all
Which ArchAngel are you most like?
Rafael. You're most like the ArchAngel of Healing. You want people to shape up, and you nag. But you mean well, and you're well loved despite it. Or because of it. You bring the donuts even as you tell people to eat more veggies.
Take this quiz!
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The invisible impinges on my body from every aspect
Indeed each cell grows according to an invisible genetic blueprint
Everything is at my fingertips
But human fingers cannot gain purchase
It is maddening to swim in Totality and not see It
I see the Universal puppet show
The dance of forms with truth
The mirrored simulacrum of a man stepping off the edge of a fabricated stratum
New stitches catch his foot like angels
The idiot audacity of faith substitutes for the senses he lacks.
He lands safely.
The step was simple will; no divine decree, nor rocket science
His people remind him the invisible highway travels in his direction.
Now they attend to other things
His footfalls continue
I want to know what happened between us.
It is Creation, and God lives there.
Tonight I watched the last episode of the last season of Babylon 5. Sad and satisfying.
Then as soon as I took my headphones off from the DVD, our new roommate moved her stuff in, and Moshe finished packing. He'll be in Tel Aviv for two weeks, then he's off to visit his family in Brazil. I'll be gone before he gets back to Israel. I'm so sad!
I hardly ever appreciate goodbyes when they happen; I usually think about them later. This time, I'm sad even before his departure. He is a very special person - I've never met anyone quite like him before. He's the real deal, and I trust him to be there if I ever need him. He has been such a role model for me as a gay Jew. It says a lot about the quality of a person, if, in the space of a year you can go from being complete strangers to being trusted friends. It surely was a gamble worth taking, to move in here!
It makes me realize that I've taken the opportunity to be closer with these two men than I have with almost anyone in my life, other than family and a handful of close friends. I've lived with them day in and day out for an entire turbulent year. Sharing space in a home is more intimate than sharing space in a dormitory. We've seen each other sick and well, happy and sad, excited and depressed and stir crazy and bored. I will miss our conversations about Judaism and the nature of the world and the political situation here in Israel. I am amazed at the common interests we shared and the fun times we had together.
Its a sad and sweet day.
Yesterday I googled this thing I am working with in Targum Avar, this thing I call "Invisible Architecture", and in addition to Buckminster Fuller's work, I found a great poem by that name. I loved the poem, and googled the poet. I had never heard of her before. The poet, Barbara Guest, died last February. In Berkeley.