Thursday, April 20, 2006

Excuse Me?

Working hard on the Radical Jewish Poetry piece again--or, I should say, poised to work on it, waiting for instructions from The Editors. (An email from D suggests that maybe I should write something a little broader than just the Norman vs. Norman piece, since they have an essay by Norman and another that talks about him with Oppen and others. Now they tell me? Oy.)

So here I am at the office, re-reading Charles Bernstein's lovely piece on Reznikoff for the first time in years, and I come across this:
"In orthodox Judaism, as in other orthodox religions, the holy is external; graspable, if at all, only through law and ritual; it is an 'object of dogmatic knowledge' as Gershom Scholem puts it (10). In Jewish mysticism, holiness is present in everyday--'low'--activities and not separated out to particular sites, such as the synagogue, or to particular times, such as the High Holy Days" (My Way, 212).
The essay goes on to claim that in "Kabbalism" we see that "holiness is found in the most common deeds and language, the most base and vulgar acts" (212), and from here to musings on Rez and Ginsberg and the "Footnote to Howl."

Now, folks, I'm not actually wearing my "Frummer than Thou" T-Shirt, although I do know where you can buy one. (Only for women? Ha!) But the more time I spend on this Radical Jewish Poetry project, the less patient I'm a-getting with the scraps of half-digested Scholem that pass for Jewish chops, no matter who's dishing them out. Where in Gehenna did Bernstein get the idea that Orthodox Judaism allocates holiness to synagogues and the Hi-Hos, and not in everyday activities and "the most common deeds"? (There's a brocha after going to the bathroom, dude.) Where, at that, does he get this distinction between "Orthodox" and "mystical" Judaism? Grrr.... As the Pope himself says, a bissel lernin is a dangerous thing.


As long as we're talking Orthodoxy, a useful, even inspiring interview over at Orthodox Anarchist today. Someday I'll be in touch with this guy directly, inshallah. Part of my minyan, my tribe.

1 comment:

myshkin2 said...

Not to push the point further--but I even heard a representative of the Catholic Group (fascist?) OPUS DEI on Good Morning America this morning talk about the group's emphasis on making everyday activities holy/sacred. The example he used was washing dishes and taking out the garbage. (And I suppose you can't get much more--oh I guess you can--orthodox than conservative Catholicism. Doesn't Orthodox literally mean "straight teeth?" Glad to find your blog back in circulation--a holy act!