Update slash

Apologies, I know it’s been a while. We’ve been busy at work getting an EU grant proposal ready – it’s a huge grant and we don’t have a lot of time to get it done. And then, of course, there’s the whole issue of trying to actually meet deadlines in this part of the world. You can imagine the fun I’ve been having.

If you are looking for more, interesting reading, feel free to explore:

midthought: a blog project conceived by yours truly and sporadically carried out by four young ladies doing similar things here in Israel. We welcome comments, questions, contributions, any and all…

The Only Democracy: I have a post up recently abut living in Wadi Nisnas (also posted on Mondoweiss, but it’ll way buried there by now)


One thought on “Update slash

  1. I was checking out some books at the public library and someone had dropped off Peter Weller reading Hesse’s Steppenwolf. I’ve now listened to a third of it, and if you’re not suicidal, it’ll boost you over the top. I thought I knew Hesse from Kamenzind (“hypercephalotrophic”, the young man’s father calls him) and Glass Bead Game, and his milieu from Death in Venice and Faust by Mann.
    Hesse’s forward for the second edition, 1961, thirty-three years after the first, suggests (or maybe it’s one of the ersazt documents within the novel, the whole novel being nothing but treatises, poems, introductories, etc., all centered on this lodger who refers to himself as a “wolf of the steppes”) that the book is about people, like Nietzsche, who change before their age changes, about how hard it is to live in two worlds: the one being changed from and the one being changed into.
    I have a whole different question in recommending it to you. If you’ve read The Castle by Kafka and encountered the idea that he and his crowd thought his books were uproariously funny (Hesse even has an exegesis on humor as one way to square the circle of not fitting in), you probably won’t be able to avoid the idea of people’s seeing what was coming over the horizon.
    Whether they want to or not, is what I’m adding to that today. I’d have expected Hesse to put a tiny mention of the Nazi incident in his second introducution, some crack about the wild winning out over the bourgeois, or the underlying spiritual struggle “obviously” having dire implications, but not a word.
    So, the question about Steppenwolf is, does it matter that it was written by a mature author (born 1877) as Naziism was gathering its spiritual forces (or forces of spiritual numbness)–so that what the author/protagonist is actually up against, or should have been up against, is this social sin, instead of moping about his own spiritual perfection.
    So the book is, perhaps entirely without intention, a deeper indictment of the bourgeoisie–not that it avoids the sting of truth in the pursuit of the mediocre–not that it is terrified most of all of self-knowledge–but that it threw itself into Naziism, and, why? A third of the way in, Harry Haller has made clear he likes his creature comforts, his cigar, his cherry brandy, his leisure.
    Someone searched the archives of a German town, newspaper, etc., and wrote a book called “The Nazi Seizure of Power” (they won the election, right?) which argues that, since this town only had ten percent unemployment at the depths of the German depression (but who’s depressed?) (the US reached thirty three percent), the reason the Nazis won out was that the bourgeoisie was just a tiny bit unsettled by the sight of the Socialist gangs and so threw its laurels, its badge of honor, its Christian heritage to the Nazis in the off-chance they could both thrash the Socialist gangs in the street and perhaps even, what, save Western Civilization.
    It’d be interesting, what, to see if the major cultural element in Israeli society is German. If you see Uri Avnery, ask him. I quipped to his recent Vox Populi piece that he grew up in a place where they had taxi drivers like that, and he sends back, “Indeed.”
    I don’t think he quite realizes that Naziism is not a piece of the earth or of DNA (Ralf Dahrendorf’s point in Society and Democracy in Germany), but a plan freely conceived, sold, settled on by proper electoral processes, duly administered. Quite like Zionism.
    And its redeeming feature, for all its imponderables? It’s not their fault. Dahrendorf claims that Germans (like him) were raised for generations to think of themselves as children, and then suddenly one day their parents didn’t come home, but here was cousin Adolf, who was big for his age.
    So I have to offer at least one indicator of Germanness in Israeli culture if I am not to just leave this as a case of Stockholm Syndrome if not just sheer bad luck. Do Israelis seem to regard themselves, the Jews, I mean, as children, with everything of consequence being the grown-ups’ fault?
    How about US Jewish culture? I’m trying to figure out what Michael Lerner’s game is at Tikkun. He seems to regard himself as a teenager, authorized to ask the absent adults tiny little questions about things, such as by this week referring to Gaza as an open-air prison, but in general his job is to keep the kids in line, duly supporting the Jewish state, with maybe 20,000 Palestinians allowed back every year for thirty years if they do everything else decently and properly, since this number would not present a demographic threat.
    If you find yourself on a window ledge, you’ve read or listened to enough Hesse for a while.

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