“THAT’S NOT ONLY BRILLIANT — IT’S ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that’ brilliant.”

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Moving Lines


“FOR GOD’S SAKE LET US sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”
– Wm. Shakspere, Richard II

“Are you a dream, Merlin?”
“A dream, to some. A NIGHTMARE TO OTHERS.”
– Excalibur

“Well, it’s easy if you know all the notes!”
– Moosie Weinberger, a”h, on playing the piano with her nose

“Never give up. Never surrender.”
— Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart

“Are we having fun, yet?”
– Zippy the Pinhead

“Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh! hard times come again no more.”
– Folk song

“In former dreams he had seen quaint lumbering buopoths come shyly out of that wood to drink, but now he could not glimpse any.”
– H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

“We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.”
– Wm. Shakespear, King Henry IV pt. II



OF ALL HUMAN EXPERIENCES, WAITING may be the least explicable.

We usually experience Time both as a series of events (“progression”) and an eternal Now (“duration”). Progression is as a pot slowly boiling or day growing late or stomach more hungry. “Duration” is the center of whatever moment (and all moments) we experience. These levels are so seamless as to first appear invisible. (Work with me here.)

Waiting suspends your attention — you’ve given your order, taken your place in line, tried to start the engine — now what? Read more »

The Root Of All Our Problems



Faint Praise


“I DON’T MIND WATCHING HIM chew the scenery — he leaves such interesting bitemarks.”

The W-Word, As In “We Are Not Amused”


A CREEPING TREND OF LITERARY infantilization is loose upon the printed land: we refer specifically to the practice of substituting for a contretemps-laden word a reference to its initial letter: “the T-word,” “the F-word,” etc.

We recognize and laud the noble impulse to avoid giving needless offense. Yet this usage has reached a point where it is difficult to understand what’s being communicated. Read more »

A Complex Whiteness


YOU MIGHT THINK WHITE FLAGS mean “Surrender,” but if you’re talking about Aaron Fein‘s “White Flags” art piece — all the world’s flags rendered full-size in white cloth and embroidery — you’d better not say so in a public forum, or I’ll reply:

(T)o me the whiteness connotes a sameness — on one level it doesn’t matter that they’re white so much as monocolor. White is also the simplest color — it reflects the entire spectrum, is purely non-differential, and leaves nothing out. All dyed cloth begins and ends in whiteness. (White is also a popular color for bedsheets, which addresses the artist’s point about the welcoming tent of Abraham: rest and comfort at the end of a journey. A journey that begins in difference but whose end is only reached by One.)

Anyway, just a few thoughts. I am completely gobsmacked by the beauty and simplicity (and perhaps sense of humor) about this project. Thank you Tablet for bringing it to us.

The project — which really must be seen to be appreciated; I doubt photos actually convey the sense and scope — is the topic of a nice write-up at http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/77571/white-flags/. The artist’s website is http://www.aaronfein.com/.

“GOD” IS THE EXPERIENCE OF “experiencing God.”

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Monumental Question


“Do you honor the hole, or refill it with something?” (This may also apply to more than just the WTC memorial. Me, I vote for honoring the hole.)



EVEN AFTER TEN YEARS, THE memories and pain are still fresh when I think of them. I don’t think of them often.

My habit in those days was to check the Ha’aretz news ticker with my morning coffee. “Hmm… soccer teams doing well, banks not so much, road accidents, airplane flies into World Trade Center. Wait. What?” Read more »

Where Do The Ideas Come From?


LET’S MAKE THIS AN EXPLORATION of the landscapes of creativity — how does the creative experience feel to you?

Mentally, I’m all about visualization: perhaps it’s synesthesia, but even smells and sounds have a visual component for me. So I’ve always seen “the creative process” as starting with a curtain across half the universe. Every now and then, the curtain parts just enough to reveal an Idea.

It could be a series of images, even images of words. Now and then it’s a sound. But even the most abstract Idea carries a visual impression of girders and joists, ropes and scrim. Sometimes an Idea will be revealed a piece at a time, with a whole clicking into place almost audibly and palpably. If it’s long, like a story, it feels like a rope uncoiling from the other side of the curtain — a line which must not be allowed to grow slack.

Sometimes an Idea links up with something inside the rest of the universe. Other times it just sits there, gleaming, faintly pulsing, daring me to capture it in words on a screen or a sketch in a notebook. (If I don’t, it can fade within minutes.)

So let’s make this an exploration of the sense-scapes of creativity. How does the creative experience feel to you?

I Am In Love With Edna St. Vincent Millay


EVIDENTLY, SHE WROTE A POEM in 1928 called “Dirge With Music.” I have not yet read any of her other works, but I hope they’re like this one. The last stanza says it all:

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

(Thanks to Rabbi David Wolpe for the quotation.)

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Celebrating the remaining days:hours:etc until Apophis II. Live it up, Earthlings.

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