Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page
Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information. With a fear in the story, doubt was always the center of either mystery or faith which moved THESE STORIES beyond the power of imagination. If you get the small details wrong, with all the fear in the story about land and women and suffering, you will get the big picture wrong – affecting if not your money, if not your land, then at least your kids.
“What is interesting to me is that every act that follows – light and dark, night and day, dry land and oceans, plants and animals, and finally man from dust – is described as an act of separation. What did God do when he saw that the light was ‘good’? He separated it from darkness, and then proceeded to go on separating ….The story begins with Creation which, as we have seen, is the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another. It ends by alluding to the most crucial distinction of all, the distinction between Good and Bad, a distinction that becomes apprehensible to humans only by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, a tree about which the Torah tells us that it was (like light) ‘good’ ….. that it was desirable for comprehension. -from Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost
When the goal all along of a good translator on a dead language – a lot like at a currency exchange in a land so foreign, or maybe a lot like in the ongoing family relationships after a divorce – should be to promote quality understanding by its people reaching for some kind of union, about shared belief.
Did you feel the restlessness of a young man? Over the imposition. The anger over outside influences. Like the International Monetary Fund. How dare the IMF! How dare you tell us how to live! Or how dare the church? Or how dare the United States of America, if you lived in a Muslim nation since the Gulf War, which goes back a generation.
Facing the emerging challenge of enlightenment epistemology and the secular political order, in the method, validity and scope of western government with their money: the independent women who are so hard to relate to. As achievement alienates men, as men once alienated their stay-at-home wives. There was a disconnect between a generally PROMISING financial reality and their deep-seated financial fear. Woman, with her fears: It was not the pride in financial independence, with the matching arrogance as much as the “bag lady” fear: the fear of being destitute. To be left as a bag lady. To be left only with your bag. The fear of a woman with fertility.
The strangeness of power. Asset seizure. The insiders and the outsider in the story, with tension between individuals, families, and states over the human power to impose. A reverse side of the same human rights question, in the balance between church and state, is seen in China, in their integration project to nationalize fertility, since this fertility was all just a personal commodity, under the safety of the nation. A homeland, with migrants leaving and coming back. And the anger of those forced to stay.
In the beginning of. Did you ever think about the writer who wrote the Book of Genesis? With the male perspective, in the ordering and a concern over who came first. Dust and the significance of who came first, in the way of leadership, when there had been no man to work the soil. Dust!. Note the ordering and the way in which Adam discovered his solitude: “BUT FOR ADAM THERE WAS NOT FOUND A HELP MATE FOR HIM.” Rashi comments: “When He brought them, He brought them before him as male and female. Thereupon Adam said, ‘All of them have a mate, and I have no mate!’ Immediately, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him.”
And yes there was the naivete in the story of “the calling of the names” which refers to the division of the species as – male and female – they passed before Adam, and he contemplated their nature as to which of them would be a help to each other in procreation so that they should beget offspring. And so Adam contemplated his own procreation, before a sudden change of consciousness if not his perspective.
Perspective: the closer you are, the less objective you will be.
All of the strangeness in the story. When things the first time would look strange to a child, if a child had a memory. Just as little children are frightened of turbans, veils, or burqas, in all the things which we had never seen, before the first time. Like Eve, as God’s gift. And how my nation today, in trying to reach a parity, not fairness, seemed afraid of this strangeness. And even after the creation of Eve, there is the appearance in the story of so few women. Did you notice that Adam did name his wife – and he got to name his wife, and not the other way around – though there was no discussion of the wedding ceremony, concerning this “wife.” And he of course was forced to believe in monogamy as a gift from the one God, because he had no other choice. And to listen to the penalties assessed after each ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, when they got too smart for their own fig leafs: “To the woman He said, “I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy; in pain you shall bear children. And to your husband will be your desire, and he will rule over you.”
Note that the first commandment, besides KNOWING God, had been a dietary law. Somehow this God was associated with food, in the dietary law about the apple. Did you note the innocence of God at the time to expect that his one simple law would be obeyed … without reflection of the “just” part of the law? When the LAW would become, overtime, associated with this God. As God would become as complex as the people he helped created. In whose Image and Likeness was this God? Or was this the reversal of the mirror?
Behold the Naivete. In the beginning, when you were born into something, when you were only able to distinguish good from evil in a story after eating of the fruit. When Adam and Eve already were in relationship but then in need for the widest form of perspective. With a need for clarity, with all of the risk in bond markets. I believe that a woman, especially, tends to overlook the red flags once she slips between the sheet — perhaps as a involuntary reaction to prevent her from labeling herself a “slut.” I believe that a woman, especially, loses clarity about a new man in her life once she sleeps with him.
Bond markets. The search for high yields and some form of clarity. And so education and the need for a wide perspective — and maybe that apple. In the bond market, no one seemed to ever care about the soft law approach in the event of a significant event that seems quite disruptive to bond markets. Like expulsion.
“And to man He said, ‘Because you listened to your wife, and you ate from the tree from which I commanded you saying, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed be the ground for your sake; with toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life.'”
And so both the pleasure and the pain in the story of life and death: the humor in the story — the very dry humor — with the curse of the serpent to eat dust, after man had come from dust.
But what was the commentary of 11th-century French scholar Rabbi Schlomo be Itzhak who is better known as Rashi on the line: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” In a story when neither Adam nor Eve had a father or a mother, what is this perspective about leaving a father and a mother? This author captured the story of beginning – until this rather abrupt sentence of a new command.
Narrative tension is primarily about withholding information, and the author of the Book of Genesis with a poetic style, had left so much tension, if this was the original scroll, about belonging. As the first command was focused upon knowing God, and this next command focused upon knowing Eve, beyond the power of imagination — in either bond, or in a kind of separation. So now outside the Garden, “One flesh?”
So did you ever feel the heart splitting, accompanied by grief, the day that you are asked to leave? If rending is to split apart into pieces, does the rending process involve violence? To either grieve together or to rage when you are banished? Is that the choice of Eve and Adam? To split or to REND a heart is “to divide, as a nation.”
So once again, in a command to Adam – especially after the mysterious and somehow moving symbol in the garden of a tree that represents both the pleasure and the pain, I have come to think, from knowing things – to separate something, about God, along a natural line of separation.
In the story of “A man shall leave….” in the beginning, there is now shame, after Adam joined in with Eve. Just as God did when He saw that the light was ‘good’, He separated light from darkness and then proceeded to go on separating, with now a new goal of ONE FLESH? So, like man from dust, man from woman is described as an act of separation, but with a closeness? The new command involved a True Relationship. Because the size of the problem had come from missing all the love that God had for the world, in the ‘not knowing’ by Eve? In the thoughtlessness. Over what you were born into? Now about this fear of a woman with fertility, to be left only with your bag – to be left as a bag lady, outside the Garden.
And so this next commandment … another commandment: To “cleave to,” for the new migrants, but this next commandment, through a payment of the penalty, about cleaving, with the pangs of child-bearing? All because of not pride as much as the vainglory of Eve. Or over what she never HAD? In a story dealing not so much with loss but what she never felt about God, would pain make someone think harder? When expiation means “from out of, to admit to and extinguish a guilt incurred, to put an end to guilt,” because Eve was above the law, above the one simple command? Would this “cleaving” achieve expiation? What would become of ONE FLESH?
In the sands of time, doubt always is in the center of the mystery story about dust, and fertility and growth. Did you ever note the separate belief in the story of Adam and Eve, after leaving the security of Adam’s God all behind, with both the pleasure and the pain in the story of life and death?
In the relationship with her husband, how dare He tell me how to live! So Adam shared in Eve’s sneakiness. Spiritual, not real kosher — with an anger over outside influence. Would her sons inherit their mother’s sneakiness and the quiet hostility that went with it –not outright telling your husband that you would not be worshiping the God of Adam? And then the shame. And from out of shame, to put an end to guilt, comes life. Given new life.
To extinguish the guilt incurred, to carry the future, Eve and Adam are to produce new life. “To the woman He said, ‘I shall surely increase your sorrow and your pregnancy.’”
In another act of separation, as you faced expulsion in light or darkness, to be left only with your bag. The movement in the story for all of the migrants and immigrants since the very beginning: and so Adam contemplated his own procreation, with the doubt and fears beyond the power of imagination which develops into such deep feeling … in this need to cleave comes a closeness from maybe the fear of outside influence, in a human need to just belong. And so this sin of pride — better expressed as a sin which came out of hostility — which came out of not belonging to a place but somehow knowing a Living God? Or a hostility about not knowing — in such a personal part about not knowing God. Because neither God nor mankind in partnership are going to survive long if you do not come to recognize both hostility and shame, living in the world.
“What is interesting to me is that every act that follows – light and dark, night and day, dry land and oceans, plants and animals, and finally man from dust – is described as an act of separation.” — from Daniel Mendelsohn’s The Lost
“Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. In a long narrative tension from withholding information from later generations, which shows up in later chapters, we endow our lives with stories. And a few key words in the acts of distinguishing one thing from another kept showing up over and over in the family history: “Vexation.” The damage which is suffered, often in covert operations, as a consequence of the tricks of another. The seen and the unseen tension over rivalry, as the second person is created. And instead of some kind of death penalty for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Eve and Adam are punished by their cleaving, reproducing more people like themselves, but in the process discovering the depth of the love of God through each other. In consequence of the tricks of Another, in their united problem in the beginning missing the size of all the love that God had for the world, this narrative tension primarily is about information withheld. And of course CLEAVAGE.
Did you ever note the missing understanding in the Story of Firsts? What is missing in the First Creation in the Book of Genesis, beyond understanding, is any shared belief. The tension which would be passed along to Cain and then Abel would be over the failure to share a common understanding of God. And the struggle in any close relationship was over understanding, if there was no shared belief. What would come to this first family who did not share a common perspective of God? What would come of this family?
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