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Preview: Shivvetee Vessels and Shards

Shivvetee Vessels and Shards

Here you will find poetry from the upper and lower worlds, as well as colorful shards of prose. The tides will occasionally wash in some edgy poetics and scientific-spiritual musings, and if there's a storm out at sea, Zionist politics and a collectible

Updated: 2018-04-22T16:02:01.961-04:00


Jonah ReVisioned


I partnered with 2 others to produce a rethinking of Jonah for Yom Kippur -- Jonah ReVisioned. Here it is at the Forward:

Filtered Lights: Colorwork on Akhashverosh


Here's a link to a video showing the progression of colorwork on the first image for our Megillat Esther:

On Filtered Lights: While saying the Sh'ma


Here is a poem that came to me last night that tries to convey the ineffable experience of transcendence. The poetry is followed by a prose translation in normal English:
Wile Sayen the Sh'ma, I Wuz Herd...

The full text can be found on Filtered Lights:

but here's a taste:

Wile Sayen the Sh’ma, I Wuz Herd...

Yur evver waer iz this Ruwakh werl
But hu knoez the Ruwakh tu see it?

Yu wuz spaken a roer
That ar seemen a silens,
Tho Yur Proffets say iz a wisper
Evver wun heerz
But hu ar lissenz? Evver wun
Stanz so klose but stil too far....

While Saying the Sh’ma, I Heard...

You are everywhere in this Ruakh world but who knows the Ruakh to see it?

You who spoke in a roar that seemed like a silence, tho Your Prophets say it is a whisper everyone hears, but who is listening? Every one stands so close but still too far.

On Filtered Lights - the first rhyton


Filtered Lights: a new post -- Megillat Esther, the first rhyton.
Six images showing the progress of my illumination work on an image. Here's the link:

and here's one of the images:

On Filtered Lights: Megillah color work


My latest post on Filtered Lights, my new blog...
"Megillat Esther: new images; colorwork."
You can find it here:

Here's a preview:

Filtered Lights -- illumination work on Akhashverosh


My latest post on Filtered Lights can be found here...
Next step, colorwork.

Here's a preview:



At Filtered Lights, a new post... 
'Nature Studies'.
Some photos of local wetlands, and enhancements of them. You can find this and more at:

A preview:



New on Filtered Lights, my new blog...
Work on an illuminated Megillat Esther. You can read a brief description and see some images here:

Here's a little preview...

Song ov Elmallah, VI, Tranzmigrents Lamment


Continuing to edit The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming, Part VI, I came across this poem.Part VI takes place during the Holocaust. The main character, Rivkah is fleeing overland towards Palestine. When she began her flight, a Torah was forced upon her to save. Now, months later...Tranzmigrents Lamment ...oh, oh, well I want to know will you come with me?    “Uncle John’s Band”, Grateful DeadThoze owwerz and thoze lievzI thot I livd; thaer relleksOn a tabel, now overternd;Like so mennee objekts, tinsel and goeld,Skatterd, krusht, or kikt asside.Wut did I see in them? Wut did thay hoeld?Now tell me wut it meenz tu be a hewman,And tell me wut it meenz tu liv a day.And tell me wut it meenz tu be the chozen,And tell me wut it meenz wen we ar pray.I held wun life;1000 plezherz filld me.I held wun life;1000 terrerz gript me.I held wun life;1000 luvz wer in my hand,And now the wind haz bloen themLike a seengel graen ov sand.And like 1000 leevz, wisselleeng, russelleengI thot I koud heer sumtheeng in the wind.Leevz tumbelleeng and sand hisseeng...And then it got kleerer, and then it got neerer:Plaenz grumbelleeng and bomz thundereeng.But that was not it. Thay past awway.And then it got purer, and then it got shorer:Not a sownd at awl, nor a feeleeng, nor a thot,But a rezzaddew ov eenk that had rubd off on my skin,Now dizzolvd intu my blud, that aenshent proffesseeAskeeng or demandeeng az evver it had dun: “Erthah, Rivkah, wut I wont tu kno, “Iz, wen will yu rize and wok with me?”[...]

Song of Elmallah, Part VI, introduction


I keep putting off completing the last book of The Song ov Elmallahz Kumming. It just needs revisions to some of its poems, so I went to look at it tonight, and behold, I found another reason to put off working on it! I read the introduction and thought it was so good, I decided to post it here. (I suppose if I didn't like my own writing, I wouldn't write.)Gottverdamnerung: In the End ov TimeYou Will Soon Be Leaving Me, TooHow suddenly I feel thrust out of Heloise’s arms, with whom I’ve lain these many years, trying to complete my Knowen of her. How cruel and sudden death is. We know it’s coming; we expect it; there are moments of dread. And then death divides us! Our bodies are irrevocably separated; our hearts cloven with an unimaginable wound. Our tears fill but a cup. It overflows. A semi-transparent filter has darkened the world. Everything is the same, but the tone is more somber. How many layers of these filters are lain upon our Souls until all light is filtered away? I love Heloise, and she is no more. I have thrown rock and soil upon her, and walked, broken, away. I call out to my God, “Where is Your Moment of Bliss?” There is no answer. Again I must remember I am here, down here, in the world, in Ertha. Here I am, and like a child who cries out to a parent and receives no response, I cry louder. I sob. My Parent stands ready in the next room, but this I must do, without help. We both grieve at my sorrow. They say a ladder was extended from heaven, and angels descended and ascended. This was a dream. In reality, angels may descend, but once we have touched Ertha, once we have kissed her or cursed her, a filter darkens our eyes, our hearts, our Souls. No more can we find the ladder. If it is there, we cannot see it. If we reach out to it, we cannot hold it. Its rungs will not support our heaviness of heart. So, what is there to do? I must build a ladder! Some say the ladder is there, and I must merely climb it. They call it Torah. Others say climbing is merely a matter of faith. With faith, all will be accomplished, they say. They refer to new books extolling a man. What is the difference between faith and illusion? Those that talk so boldly are full of illusion. And it grieves me, for Ertha is full mostly of illusion and very little faith. Our Sacred Books are not a ladder. They are but incomplete instructions. Each of us must build. And each must improvise. But wait! A wonderful realization has just now struck me. This is not only the work of angels. Everyone is building! Some are still searching for the first tool. Others have amassed materials but can fashion nothing. This work is hard. Having too much creates an impossible burden. With too little, nothing holds together. Heloise, you have helped me fashion a rung in my ladder. For this you are inscribed in my Soul, and you are made holy. Who now will hold me in her arms? Will her kisses be so sensuous and eager? Will her body tremble with a pleasure that reaches to the Moment of Bliss? Shkheenah, will You love me so sweetly again? And you, my dear reader, my leader who has followed me so far! You too, will be leaving me soon. But I will not leave you! ~Elmallah[...]

Atternen Ju: altered states


The time is about 1170CE. The place is north of Damascus. Our hero and his wife are making their way to Khazaria or Poland, or who-knows-where, and lo, before them, the Euphrates...Here's a prose, standard English version of their trip.Here on these shores we eat the last of Sheik Sinon’s hashish cakes. As we climb aboard a rottin’ boat, our ferryman, Urshinnab, assures, “Yea, I’ll take you’s all the way up this Euphrates to its source, even to that other world, that Aden where these shores end.”Anyways, that’s the claim he makes. Batkol frowns and looks around. Marsh and silence. We slip from shore.Languid ripples bend away. Reeds and muddy shoals and cranes. A breeze. The willows tremble and sigh, wavin’ their arms, ‘Come here. Forget.’ Beneath them, the women washin’ clothes see us and wave and begin to dance, swayin’ hips and sway of arms. And now the plane trees murmur dreams. The rustle of leaves like brushes on drums, and the birds in a chorus, warble refrains as the women bow to the ferry boat, “Hail, ye holy spirits. Ascend.”The birds take flight to accompany us; angels and egrets alight on our boat as the River Redemption flows to its source.We lie on the prow. The azure sky descends. I touch it. It ripples and bends like water, zigzag arcs shoot out in a spray of color wherever I touch, as I dissolve in the liquid air. Our little ferry stretches out, and with it, like rubber, we elong into giants sailin’ an island upstream.We pass beneath a willow tree into a masjid*, tiny and cool, with an intricate dome of inlaid tiles, polished sapphire, jade, and gold. What artist drew such a perfect design? The dome echoes a choir in song; must be a thousand angels of praise. Sudden the dome in a thunder explodes. Birds, leaves, branches, sky. A flock of warblers scatter away and a rain of leaves flutter down.... * a little mosqueI wake from a dream. Astonished, I blink. I wake again and the world is new. I am in a boat. What river is this? I wake again. I am in a boat. From far away a woman stares. I know her face. I wake again. Heavy breathin’. I am in a boat. Far away... I wake again. A woman sittin’ far away. She speaks. Her words a waterfall, a low rumble. I wake from a dream. I am in a boat. Music echoes from far away. “You are Butkoel,"I think I say. Am I dreamin’? I wake again. She murmurs, but all her words are garbled. I try to explain... She bursts into laughter. I wake from a dream. I am laughing. I close my eyes and see rivers that ripple into words down a page, mosques built in an arbor of trees.I wake from a dream of rivers and boats. The world is a boat. It rocks on waves, and sooner or later what is standing, falls. It make me dizzy. So that is wy.... I wake from a dream. But am I awake? Do I hear singin’ or Batkols voice? She stops laughin’. I listen close.Splish... Splish... Gurgle ... Splish. The world empties of sight and sound. Just a vast mosaic of blue sky. The splish and gurgle and the ferryman’s wheeze. And then in the silence I hear it again what I’ve heard many times, I don’t know when -- a sigh, a whisper, a word, a phrase that comes like shadow dance on the waves; a voice on the river or a Voice of the Lor singin’ itself, faint as a breeze, singin’ itself through the ages of me. Verses that slowly remember themselves. Mysterious lyrics. What do they mean? ‘In symmetry of love and decay... ‘Hear me; touch me. ‘I care not what is true. ‘And I betray what is coy. ‘I’ll lead you where you want to go, ‘And leave you, cold, alone...’Who is this woman? Potiphar’s* wife? Or Lilith callin’ from the farther shore? How do I know her temptin’ song? Again and again, but now it transforms, ‘In some, the degrees of love... ‘Come, hurry, touch me c[...]

Anti-Semitism: Harbinger of Political and Social Decline


 I recently completed a research paper entitled Anti-Semitism: Harbinger of Political and Social Decline. I uploaded the complete paper to with this abstract:This article is an analysis of Jew hatred (anti-Semitism) and its debilitating impact on society and governance. It first looks at religious Jew hatred, showing how Muslim Jew hatred is the underlying cause of the Arab-Israel conflict, and how it is also a measure of the dysfunctionality of Arab governments. The paper then turns to ideological-leftist Jew hatred, and the psychological processes that allow bigotry to get embedded into politics. The paper concludes with a brief review of political parties in Europe that are promoting Jew hatred and the fragility of those countries where Jew hatred is most prevalent.Here are the opening paragraphs:I. IntroductionFor those who are paying even modest attention, it is clear that anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories about Jews, and anti-Zionist hatred of Israel, the "Jew of nations," has been on the rise for two decades.However, such a general statement provides an unfocused starting place for analysis. In this essay I will look at the problem more closely, teasing apart its three primary strands:1. religious anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism2. political/ideological anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism3. nationalistic anti-Semitism and anti-ZionismI will begin this analysis with religion, the most historically prevalent form of Jew hatred, and for the sake of brevity and honesty, from here on out I will dispense with euphemisms, and refer to anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism as Jew hatred.II. Religious Jew HatredReligious Jew hatred must be differentiated into its Muslim and Christian forms. Muslim Jew hatred appears to be no worse today than it has been for many decades, certainly since 1948, and probably since 1900 in conjunction with the rise of Zionism. However, saying it is no worse today than it has been for a century is really saying that Islamic Jew hatred is 1. state-promoted; 2. inculcated in the home, school systems, and news and social media; 3. virtually unrestrained; and 4. greatly influenced by Nazi ideology. The ADL’s 2014 study of world anti-Semitism (1), and current events documented on MEMRI’s website(2) verifies the extent and viciousness of this hatred, its profound disconnect from historical evidence, and the comprehensive lack of honesty that dominates opinions across the Muslim world.(1.) Executive Summary:;    Full report: MEMRI’S home page:;MEMRITV:; MEMRI media archives: consequences are far reaching and highly disturbing. This is surely the underlying cause behind the Arab (and Muslim) refusal to make peace with Israel. Ironically, many people get this backwards. Many people think Arab and Muslim Jew hatred is an effect of conflict with Israel. In fact, it pre-existed and generated those conflicts. The Arabs 1. refused to accept Jewish immigration to Palestine before 1948; 2. refused to accept Israel’s right to exist in 1948; and 3. refused to negotiate with Israel after the ‘48, ‘56, ‘67, and ‘73 wars, and with the exception of Egypt and Jordan (who have made a frigid peace with Israel) at no other time have Arabs come forward and simply accepted Israel’s right to exist. The Palestinian conflict with Israel is a direct result of this refusal to tolerate the existence of a Jewish nation in the Middle East.Yet Israel’s existence emerged at the same time and as a result of the same historic events that created every other Middle Eastern na[...]

Atternen Ju, on the road from Tiberias


This short scene (3 stanzas), I present, first, direct from the heavens, and then in "normal" English. It takes place as the Eternal Jew and his wife Butkoel decide to look for a better place to live, after experiencing decades of economic and social decline in Tiberias. Ironically (I guess), it takes place just outside of Damascus, about 1170 CE. But it could be last week or last year. If that's ironic.

Meenwielz the lan it seemz gro dark.
Shimmerree shaddoez; waverree hilz.
Wut aelz us that yu skip like ramz?
Sun so brite; blienden us.
Fyureyes heet; choken gasp.
Dus haengen in the thikken aer.
We haz tu fors arselz tu breeth.
A gus a win, sullen, meen.
Travvellerz tern asside, allone,
Rest in the uvvennish shade uv a tree.

The ro emteez. A villij up ahhed.
Thers. Silens. A moeshenles werl.
A wel ahhed. A moen. A kof.
A gus. A kreek. A gate. It sweeng.
Iz that a kry? Beyon the gate.
A chile. An erchin liez a dus.
Kryz aggen, naree a breth.
Butkoel goez in. “Waerz yur mah?”
Blaenk stare. Dus-wite fase.
Mask a terrer. Mask a deth.

Silens. Butkoel noks the dor.
Skweeks open. “Hay. Hello?”
Silens. Dark inside. Ar iyz
Ajjust. The flor. Boddeez sprawl
In blak haloez; skarlet ej.
Skreemz. Butkoel. I almoes swoon.
Rush. Owtside. Butkoel grabz
The chile. Silens. Bak in the street.
Mor howzen. Mor ded.
A graybeer sits in a pool a blud.
    “Giv me the chile,” iz weeree kummand.
    “Sheez wun a mine. Thaer awl mine.
    “Now. Be gon. Nevver kno
    “Wen thayl retern.” “Hu ar ‘thay’?”
Butkoel asks. Aggen, “Be gon.
    “Revenjez bernen hot an long.
    “Beware the sown a hors. Be gon.”
He take the chile. Layz her down
In iz lap. Hiz sitz in blud.
    “Be gon.” The sun. A skorch the lan.

Meanwhile the land seems to grow dark. Shimmery shadows; wavery hills. What ails us that you skip like rams? Sun so bright; blindin' us. Furious heat; choke and gasp. Dust hangs in the thickened air. We have to force ourselves to breathe. A gust of wind, sullen, mean. Travelers turn aside, alone. Rest in the ovenish shade of a tree.

The road empties. A village up ahead. Thirst. Silence. A motionless world. A well ahead. A moan. A cough. A gust. A creak. A gate. It swings. Is that a cry? Beyond the gate. A child. An urchin lies in dust. Cries again, nary a breath. Butkoel goes in. “Where's your ma?” Blank stare. Dust-white face. Mask of terror. Mask of death.

Silence. Butkoel knocks on the door. Squeaks open. “Hey. Hello?” Silence. Dark inside. Our eyes adjust. The floor. Bodies sprawl in black halos; scarlet edged. Screams. Butkoel. I almost swoon. Rush. Outside. Butkoel grabs the child. Silence. Back in the street. More houses. More dead. A greybeard sits in a pool of blood.
    “Give me the child,” his weary command. “She's one of mine. They're all mine. Now. Be gone. Never know when they'll return.”
    “Who are ‘they’?” Butkoel asks.
Again, “Be gone. Revenge burns hot and long. Beware the sound of horse. Be gone.”
He take the child. Lays her down in his lap. He sits in blood.
    “Be gone.”
The sun is scorch the land.

In the Land of the Hashashin


Here is the latest scene in The Atternen Juez Talen. It takes place in what is modern Syria. At the time (around 1165 CE) the region was loosely controlled by the Seljuks, and it bordered Crusader (Frankish) territories. The scene begins in Homs and ends in the mountains. I have translated the poetry out of MetaEnglish, and into prose.The rav replied with a weary sigh, “Ever the search for a better place and a better time and a better spirit, but the world runs backwards away from the Lor, and the soul, like a man, grows weary and old. So our great feats and heroic deeds are all behind us, and unless God will send a savior, all is lost. Best to stay near the Holy Land, so when satan sets us ablaze, our passage through the furies is brief and the salvin’ land can restore us right quick. “But I will send a sh’liakh* with you to find you a guide thru Assassia’s lands. Without a guide abandon hope ye who enter, to reach Hama.” * agent, representativeChiseled stone and fired brick wall us in through our narrow maze; and awnings and balconies over our heads. Neither light nor air, as the heat bakes the sewage in the street befoulin’ our feet.A courtyard. Our sh’liakh taps on a door and we wait in the thick shadows and stench. Shuffle. Eyes peer through a crack. “Is Master Bilal acceptin’ guests?”The door creaks and we slip from the gloom into utter darkness as the door creaks shut. “Wait.” Footsteps shuffle away.Slowly our eyes adjust in the dark. A tiny room and a moldering hall. Damp the air, like to breed disease. Shuffle. A tiny and wrinkled man in a white robe and a white beard. “Come.” His slow unsteady steps, like a dirge of death he leads us down the hall and down a coiling stair, like a narrow cave into the maw of the moldery earth.There like a king of the underworld, crosslegged, sittin’ on a prayer rug, an idol of stone, its arms as thick as any man’s legs; neck like a tree trunk and a massive head made larger still by a shock of hair and  ringlets of beard that tumble and boil into his lap.The idol talks and my heart near stops. “Who’re you servin’ up to me, Yacoob? Offerings meant to burn in the Old Man a the Mountain’s grove?”Our envoy smiles and climbs the stair, leaving us alone in this devil’s den.A cascade of shock and fear and rage tumbles down the edge of me -- betrayal by that Yacoob scum or by his rav an evil sect in Homs like Sodom’s predators I remember that white robe priest serpent coiled in Palmyra’s ruins that demon boy down his cave I’m bound and gagged by Berber thieves hit him stab him gouge his eyes an idol that devours men this the idol that I serve my scarlet sins these harlot jinns is this justice my reward *v’uttah tzuddeek ulkoel habbah allanu,kee emmet ussetah, v’unnukhnu heershunnu*...-- *-* the vidui, the confession at death;      this the last line: You are righteous      in all that is come on us; You create       truth; we, wickedness. “You two ain’t in Damascus now, and its little men and little cares. You jus’ moseyed into the lion’s den; the asp, it slithers; jackals swarm. And you, all blind, would trip along. Your sugary times is behin’ you now. Now is the tastin’ a fear and blood.”Like a rumble from the guts of the earth, or the sound of thunder down from the hills, or maybe like a wolf’s growl when it sees you sittin’ in its lair, my thoughts continue their cascade while he growls and while I talk. “We heard the road is straight from here -- Hama, Aleppo, Gaziantep -- and Seljuk soldiers secure the way.” “Seljuk guards? What a pile! Offal pours from the mouth a the king a[...]

Visions and Revisions of Florence


Nancy was invited to present some research at the Kunsthistorische Institute in Florence earlier this summer. It's a pretty enough town but I'm not a big fan of tourist havens. Summertime in Florence? Outa control. Still...2 views of the Duomo:Tile in the Baptistry:Candy, eye candy:2 views of a garden:A bike:My obsession with masonry persists:The San Niccolo hills:Thru a portal:2 views inside a shop:She's the one!And this from a short trip to Sienna...[...]

The Madeleine Amulet: Producing the Amulet


This brief video shows the process of designing, drawing, calligraphing, painting, and illuminating an amulet for my sweet little kabuchki Madeleine.

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Brick entranceway


I'm closing in on finishing my next video, showing the production of the Madeleine Amulet. In the meantime, I work a couple of hours each day on the chain gang, breaking bricks. Here are 4 images of the progress.

Progress, as of day 19:

Now the fun part, designing the central area. Here's what I've got so far:

Now just imagine if the black granite were lapis lazuli...

Back to reality. Fortunately, there are no kids in the neighborhood, or I might have inspired them with some new, creative uses of language.

Creating Reality as Opposed to Simply Being Part of the Creation


This short essay is part of a collection of essays in a work-in-progress entitled "Prolegomena to a New Spiritual Psychology".

If our own thinking determines, or at least has a part in shaping the reality we live in, that is, in determining the nature of that reality, and is not just a sub-function of a pre-existing reality; if it is possible that we have a part in shaping reality, then there is no stronger argument for pursuing a spiritual life, a life of purpose and meaning, a religious life. Pursuing a religious life means choosing a trajectory towards the good, towards justice and morality, towards Adonai/God. This means that inwardly thru our beliefs and thoughts, and outwardly thru our acts of compassion, justice, and creativity, we are trying to build a human reality that reflects the Jewish conception of Adonai. But tho this conception is quintessentially Jewish, its fulfillment is in no way limited to Jews.

If we accept such a possibility and choose to pursue it, then faith alone is not sufficient. Nor are good works alone sufficient. If we are creating this reality through our thoughts as well as our deeds, then both our beliefs and our actions are critically important. Thus, to reject God or exclude God from our conceptions is to pursue an incomplete, broken, and ultimately dysfunctional model. Without God, one is inevitably left with the Machiavellian/Darwinian world of blind and random nature, devoid of any inherent ethics, justice, and purpose.

[A note on atheism:] While it is undeniable that one can be deeply and consistently ethical without actively believing in God, consistent ethical behavior (as opposed to situational, self-serving ethical behavior) ultimately rests on a belief in values that transcend personal needs and personal gain. And to believe in such “transcendental” values ultimately means our inner logic is founded on some sort of God idea. Many ethical atheists prefer not to pursue the logic of their beliefs, but in the end their atheism really rests on a religious, God-based foundation. Ideas such as “for the good of society” or “for the good of humankind” or “for the good of the earth” are all ways of submerging God into one’s beliefs without having to acknowledge God.

Designing the Madeleine Amulet


This 2 minute video shows the design stages in the production of an illuminated amulet, The Madeleine Amulet. It also describes the conceptual foundations of the images I developed for the amulet.

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Eternal Jew: walking the 18 blessings


Composing The Atternen Juez Talen, I conceived a scene in which the events he experiences reflect the 18 blessings of the Sh'monah Esray. "Sh'monah Esray" means "18", and it is one of the names of a core part of Jewish liturgy comprised, originally, of 18 blessings (19 blessings now).So, here's our hero on the road from Tiberias (Tiveria) to Khazaria (north of the Black Sea) and the year is about 1150 CE. To make his passage easier he and his wife Butkoel (a shortened form of Batsheva Kol Tov) try to become anonymous by taking on the role of shepherds.This stage in their journey emulates the Kedusha, the third of the 18 blessings. In the Kedusha one reaches the pinnacle of holiness, elevated to angelic levels of awareness....(A note on the format:I have translated the poetry and converted it into prose to help the reader navigate my modified (dare I say, elevated) English. Thus, a prose paragraph in "old" English followed by the same text as poetry in metaEnglish.)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The border on the Seljuk lands is like a desert nomad’s cloak -- ill kept and full of gapin’ holes. Seljuk Syria, that’s our goal. A two day haul thru dried out streams, wadis where branches of long dead oaks reach from their graves to pluck your eyes.     The border on the Seljouk lanz     Iz like a dezzert nomadz kloek --     Ill kept an fule a gapen hoel.     Seljouk Sureyah, thats ar goel.     A tu2 day hawl thru dry owt streemz,     Woddeez ware branchen a long ded oek     Reech frum thaer graven tu pluk yur iy.And not two weeks after that, and we’ve acquired our kingly robes to seem the shepherds we must be. Hooded cloaks of felted wool -- like walking ovens in the sun; fur-skin boots packed with felt to ease the blistering rocky road -- a rancid stench soon reeked from them; each a staff to walk by the way and help convince hungry wolves to tear necks in other folds; and naturally a willow switch to help convince a head-strong goat to join his happy flock again.     An nor a tu2 week after that     An we akwiyerz ar keenglee robe     Tu seem the shepperz we mus be.     Houded kloeks a felted wool --           Like wokken uvvenz in the sun;     Fer-skin boots pakt with felt     Tu eez the blisterres rokkee rode --           A ransid stench soon reeken them;     Eech a staf tu wok by the way     An help kunvins the hungree woolv     Tu taren neks in uther foelz;     An nacherlee a willo swich     Tu help kunvins a hed-streng goet     Tu join iz happee flok aggen.Soon enough we become like goats ourselves. We see the world thru a goat’s eyes: tufts of weeds and low-hung leaves direct their path, movin’ at the slowest pace of twelve distracted, hungry beasts. Any patch of dusty turf allures their dull and beasty eyes. Passin’ this rich and varied world our eyes serve only our yammerin’ guts; a berry here, a nut there, a dusty weed looks succulent; in a death-dry wadi, a puddle of mud now appears like a cup of wine.     [...]

Another book conservation project


I recently took on a project to restore a lovely book of international folktales collected by Danny Kaye in the early 1950's. The book's cover was breaking away from the book body, but fortunately the paper and sewing were in good condition. Here are a few pictures, showing the book before, during, and after conservation.As part of the project, I also produced a pdf booklet, showing a more complete collection of images of the conservation process. The whole project took about 10 hours, altho producing the booklet consumed more than 3 of those hours.Front cover, before and after. Not a huge change. Pencil marks and spots removed, and stains made less noticeable.The bottom of the spine was quite worn. Matching and replacing/repairing this fabric would not have generated any structural enhancements, and it would have been difficult, time consuming, and costly, so it remained undone. Choices, eh?The cover's edges were very worn on the bottom and front, and the corners had become rounded and mushy.I stabilized the corners and edges, and restored the color (more or less) using non-fugitive India ink. In a one step process, the ink, made of shellac, seals and hardens the mushy edges, while adding color. With a little experimentation I produced a combination of colors that matched the existing cover papers fairly well.Inside, the hinges were splitting, exposing old, deteriorated gauze, which was all that still held the book body in the cover. The end papers (the "Starry Night" design), naturally, were ripped the length of the boards. The edges were all crinkled and squirreled up, but fortunately, with a little care, I was able to unravel them. The results weren't bad.Once I cut the gauze, I could get at the inner spine of the book, first to clean out the old, acidic paper, gauze, and crud, then to build a new hinge, using unbleached muslin and Japanese paper.Naturally, attaching the new hinge can be a bit tricky and stressful, but all went well. The book is now firm, tight, and structurally sound. Storing it in an acid-free box would further enhance its longevity.[...]

Drash on Shemini, butterflies, and elephants


Drash on Shemini, butterflies, and elephants23 Adar II, 5776Shemini, Viyekra/Leviticus 9:1 - 11:47Todays’ portion is Shemini. ‘Shemini’, '8', refers to the 8th day in the consecration of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary. This sidrah is usually known for its two mysteries: the death of two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, while lighting incense; and the laws of Kashrut concerning what animals can and can’t be eaten. Neither the reason for the death of Aaron’s sons, nor the reasons not to eat certain animals are explained, and they remain much discussed mysteries to this day.Since you can find plenty of discussion about those two topics all over the place, I decided to focus on other matters: an extremely minor detail with a butterfly effect, and an elephant in the room.Butterfly FX:We read that if a small animal like a mouse or chameleon dies and falls on something, that something will become impure: verse 11:35 (Fox translation):“Thus, anything upon which their carcass falls shall be tamei, unclean. An oven or 2-pot stove is to be demolished; they are tamei and they shall remain tamei for you. (Thus they cannot be made pure, tahor again.)Well, a chameleon falling on your oven can be a problem, right? Really! An oven or stove is a major appliance and no one wants to have to destroy the whole thing, take the parts out to the hazmat dump (so they don’t make anything else impure), and then have to go out to some over-crowded, under-pleasant strip mall to buy a new one. Well, the sages of old were discussing this very problem, and in the process they created one of the most famous, conceptually remarkable, and literarily brilliant midrashim of all time (a real butterfly effect, eh?). We know this midrash now as “The Oven of Akhnai.” It goes something like this:We have been taught: Say a man made an oven out of separate coils of clay, placing one upon another, then put sand between each of the coils; such an oven, R. Eliezer said, is not susceptible to defilement, while the sages declared it susceptible. So what’s the issue here? [My answer: an oven’s an expensive piece of equipment; is it possible to make one that can be fixed rather than replaced. But the real problem here becomes a disagreement that leads to a power struggle between the sages...]            It is taught: On that day R. Eliezer brought forward every imaginable argument, but the sages did not accept any of them. Finally he said to them "if the Halakhah (body of Jewish law) agrees with me, let this carob tree prove it!" Sure enough, the carob tree was uprooted (and replanted) a hundred cubits away from its place. "No proof can be derived from a carob tree," they retorted.            Again he said to them, "If the Halakhah agrees with me, let the channel of water prove it!" Sure enough, the channel of water flowed backward. [Visualize frowning and yawning as the sages respond...] "No proof can be derived from a channel of water," they rejoined.            Again he urged, "If the Halakhah agrees with me, let the walls of the house of study prove it!" Sure enough, the walls tilted as if to fall. But R. Joshua rebuked the walls saying, "When disciples of the wise are engaged in a halakhic dispute, what right have you to interfere?" Hence, in deference to R. Joshua they did not fall, and i[...]

At Museum Hill, Santa Fe


Heck, I forgot this one yesterdee, but it's too good to pass...

Golden G


Aen davvarreem...

The Madeleine Amulet, complete


Having just completed the Madeleine Amulet/Shiviti, I am creating a full video of its creation, from conception to birth, but in the meantime, here's a sneak peak, a 15 second video spiraling around the completed shiviti.
For those who do not know the term "shiviti" (which I spell shivvetee), it is a Hebrew word meaning "I have set" or "I have placed". Line 8 of Psalm 16 states, "Shivvetee Uddoniy l'negdee tammeed": "I have set God before me always." And thus the word got transferred to the object, in reverence of the Divine.

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