January 21 2018

To Be Quieter

In Kfar Blum, between the hills of Golan and the hills of Galilee,

my friend told me: “These hills once were seashore,

we are standing on what once was the floor of the sea.”

What does that require of us? To be quieter,

more transparent, to turn inward like fossil shells,

to be light and floating as seaweed.

Then we came to Menachemiya, “God Consoles,”

which lived up to its name and consoled us.

We spoke softly, like the soft hills this spring

near the quiet Jordan, under the sign “No One’s Here.”

 

Then we headed south. That waterfall on the Jordan River

soothes as it falls. Unlike a human being.

I thought about the power of damned-up water

and the power of water falling in a torrent,

the power of weeping and the power of restraint,

the power of a woman’s hair pulled back like a dancer’s

and the power of a woman’s hair bursting free and open like a dancer’s.

I thought about it all, and when I got home,

I told my children.

–Yehuda Amichai

January 21 2018

To Be Quieter

In Kfar Blum, between the hills of Golan and the hills of Galilee,

my friend told me: “These hills once were seashore,

we are standing on what once was the floor of the sea.”

What does that require of us? To be quieter,

more transparent, to turn inward like fossil shells,

to be light and floating as seaweed.

Then we came to Menachemiya, “God Consoles,”

which lived up to its name and consoled us.

We spoke softly, like the soft hills this spring

near the quiet Jordan, under the sign “No One’s Here.”

 

Then we headed south. That waterfall on the Jordan River

soothes as it falls. Unlike a human being.

I thought about the power of damned-up water

and the power of water falling in a torrent,

the power of weeping and the power of restraint,

the power of a woman’s hair pulled back like a dancer’s

and the power of a woman’s hair bursting free and open like a dancer’s.

I thought about it all, and when I got home,

I told my children.

–Yehuda Amichai

December 27 2017

Jazz and Friendship

It's hard to put into words, but my friendship with Bix was one of the fine things in my life. It's probably tough for anybody outside of the jazz world to latch on to its real meaning. When you're a kid and your first millennium falls on you - when you get in a groove that you know is right for you, find a way of expressing something deep down and know it's your way - it makes you bubble inside. But it's hard to tell outsiders about it. It's all locked up inside you, in a kind of mental prison. Then, once in a million years, somebody like Bix comes along and you know the same millennium is upon him too, it's the same with him as it is with you. That gives you the courage of your convictions - all of a sudden you know you aren't plodding around in circles in a wilderness. No wonder jazz musicians have an off-center perspective on the world. You can't blame them for walking around with a superior air, partly because they're plain lonely and partly because they know they've got hold of something good, a straight slant on things, and yet nobody understands it. A Bix Beiderbecke will. He knows where to put the "Amen's."

- Mezz Mezzrow

December 10 2017

Bob Ingersoll versus Mahalia Jackson

"I'm gonna save you, too, Studs." It isn't the first time she offers this challenge; nor is it the last. It is to become our Chautauqua debate: believer versus atheist . . . I always lose. Don't misunderstand. I have never in my life thrown a match of this nature. I am, in this instance, pitifully overmatched. All my Bob Ingersoll arguments are demolished by her soaring song. And her humor.

- Studs Terkel on Mahalia Jackson

November 29 2017

Divine Justice

In 1831 Hector Berlioz and Felix Mendelssohn were walking in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, arguing about God. Mendelssohn was defending God, while Berlioz was expressing skepticism. When Mendelssohn tripped on a ruin, Berlioz said, "Look at that for an example of divine justice: I blaspheme, you fall."

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