Thursday, August 25, 2005

How Pleasant to Meet Mr. Finkelstein!

Working on my Norman Finkelstein essay this week, for the Secular Jewish Culture / Radical Poetics collection. (Hi, Norman!) A tougher job than I'd thought, less because my notes for the essay were lost in a computer crash months ago--although that grates and chafes with every sentence--than because I find I have too much to say about the broad framing topic (SJC/RP), and have to set it aside to get at the poems themselves. I've decided to focus, as is my want, on the pleasures of Norman's poetry--a little off-topic, perhaps, for the volume, but it will probably lead somewhere useful, and we don't have enough talk out there about secular Jewish culture as a source of pleasure, which it surely is: not a falling off from religious Jewish culture, but a category that stands alongside, and maybe even subsumes, its more famous and familiar sibling. I'll have more to say about this once I get ahold of David Biale's Cultures of the Jews this afternoon--a book I learned of while browsing this description of Biale's course on Religious and Secular Jewish Cultures. So much to learn--and the days grow short when you reach September, as Kurt Weill & Maxwell Anderson remind me on the iPod.

Still no comments about my 12 gates to the city (of SJC), & no emails either. Slow days in the blogosphere? Or was I just stating the obvious throughout? Curious.


Norman Finkelstein said...

Hello back at ya, Eric. Always nice to know somebody's out there. Classes started for me this week, but I want you to know that I have been thinking about your twelve points. The numerology suits me just fine, of course, but I have a feeling that if one really scrutinized them, they could probably be reduced to fewer than twelve. More importantly, a number of them give me a sense of how attenuated the idea of secular Jewish culture can get to be when one drifts away from certain Jewish religious constructs. I can't say anything more at present, mainly because I wrote about it this summer for my SJC/RP essay. So stay tuned. In any case, thanks for the tip on the Biale volume.

E. M. Selinger said...

Hmmm... About that "attenuation"--maybe it's only the case for, only a problem for, poets who are writing in a "non-Jewish language"? Thinking of the In Zikh poets here, of Glatshteyn saying that he could write about ANYTHING and it would be a Jewish poem: the luxury of writing in a language called "Jewish," no?