Generation Gaps: On Schlemiel Children & (Jewish) Mothers in Bruce Jay Freidman’s “A Mother’s Kisses” and Jesse Eisenberg’s “Bream Gives Me Hiccups”

Books give me ideas.  I love to be between one book and another.  It’s like being between one place and another.  I’m always walking – it seems – from one idea to another.   I like to retrace my steps because I might stumble – like a schlemiel – across something. Wandering around New York […]

Imperative or Description? On Roland Barthes’ Notion of The Neutral in Minimalist Art and Ethical Minimalism

  I can’t seem to get smallness out of my mind.  It’s not simply an obsession.  The Kabbalists of Safed and also Kafka knew that.  The notion of “tsimtsum” (also spelled “tzimtzum”), in particular, addresses smallness and contraction in terms of a dynamic (a movement from one state to another).  It emerges in JS Foer’s recent […]

Who is Laughing? On “Laughtivism” and its Opponents

When Walter Benjamin wrote Gershom Scholem from Paris, on June 12, 1938 about Kafka, humor, and salvation, Adolf Hitler had already established his first work camp (1933), organized an anti-Jewish boycott (1933), burned “un-German” books (1933), passed the Nuremberg Race Laws (1935), sponsored an anti-Semitic art exhibition in Munich (1937), and annexed Austria (1938).   And […]