Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Myshkin in the Mishkan

A lovely comment from Myshkin2 last night, worth bringing above the fold:
I feel a bit awkward (& perhaps presumptuous) entering these unparted waters. But would Milosz be helpful in any ways--as an example of "diasporic & adrift" as well as one who demonstrates Geworfenheit (if that works grammatically)...and as one who actively investigates nostalgia (a poem like "For NN," for example? Also, Milosz as a sacramental poet who is only sometimes Catholic--and then not especially when he's being sacramental.

I'm glad that Hans Jonas was brought in to the discussion, because that clarifies a lot--for someone like me is so far from even imagining what a "return to the law" would be like. Ditto for "writing from the law!" Sorry if I'm lowering the level of discourse here.
Not at all, Myshkin2--there's no lowering in sight! In fact, your comment illuminates two things for me quite vividly. First, it reminds me that I don't know much at all about Milosz; in fact, I haven't read more than a poem or two by him since I was in high school, a generation ago! I'll take a look at his work, now, with these questions in mind.

Second, though--and more important--your post suggests to me that the condition Bloom and Finkelstein describe sounds an awful lot like the Jewish case of a more general post-theological malady. I mean, if Stevens, Keats, Milosz, and Heidegger have the bug, along with Scholem and friends, maybe it's a period phenomenon rather than a specifically Jewish issue, and should be treated accordingly? Perhaps my own restlessness with the discourse of diaspora, "return to the law," etc. derives from a sense that these are very culturally specific metaphors for something that isn't really all that culturally specific, and that more is lost than is gained by insisting on the "Jewishness" of any of them.

I'll have much more to say about all of this later this afternoon, once I've read what looks to be two Very Useful emails, from Mike Heller and from Dan Morris, about the SJC project. Stay tuned!


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