Sarah Silverman, Hannah Arendt, and “The Old/New Lord of Dreams”

Last night, before I went to sleep, I noticed that Sarah Silverman had Tweeted something that had schlemiel written all over it. Nap time again. Crazy busy dream life. Very little time for life life — Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) August 27, 2013 Why? In Hannah Arendt’s essay, “The Jew as Pariah: The Hidden Tradition,” Arendt […]

Reggie Watts: A Focused/Unfocused “Lord of Dreams”

One of the things we find in many schlemiels is the character of absent-mindedness.  In her essay on the schlemiel (entitled “The Jew as Pariah”), Hannah Arendt (a Jewish-German thinker from the mid-twentieth century) notes that in the “hidden tradition” (of the Pariah/Schlemiel) the first major modern schlemiel witnessed in the west was the 19th […]

A Note on Jake Marmer’s Poem “Bathhouse of Dreams”

Jake Marmer’s poem, “Bathhouse of Dreams,” is an improvised poem which is based – in part – on a Mishnah from the tractate Avoda Zarah 3:4: Proklos, son of Plosphos asked Rabban Gamliel a question in Akko, where he was washing in Aphrodite’s bathhouse. He said to [Rabban Gamliel], “Isn’t it written in your Torah […]

Walter Benjamin’s “Dream Kitsch”

Like Robert Walser, Walter Benjamin, from time to time, wrote in very small script.   According to the editors of the Walter Benjamin Archive, Benjamin’s “miniaturized script is reminiscent of Robert Walser’s ‘pencil system’, which he used to help him write”(50). But unlike Walser, who “learnt to ‘play and poeticize’, in the small and smallest details, […]

The Schlemiel Who Tried to Get a Job – On Robert Walser’s “The Job Application”

While writing on Franz Kafka, the Jewish-German thinker Walter Benjamin was interested in finding common ground between Jewish and non-Jewish comic characters.  We see this project in his notes and in his essay on Kafka’s work.  To be sure, the essay starts with a reflection on a Russian fool named Shuvalkin; but it also includes […]

The Schlemiel as Prophet (Take 2)

In yesterday’s blog, we learned from the Talmud Baba Batra that once the last prophet died, prophesy was given over to children, fools, and, as I explained, schlemiels. To understand what this meant, I cited Martin Buber’s reading of the prophet. The prophet addresses persons who hear him, who should hear him. He knows himself […]