Monday, September 27, 2010

For from Zion will go forth felafel

All things being given, I’d rather live in a post-Jewish society than a post-Christian one, but Israel is, I suspect, not sufficiently post Jewish in that the discourse of a rigid, absolutist Jewishness is a growing voice there, occupying an increasingly large slice of the public domain. By post I mean a society which may draw upon a coherent faith tradition to inform the different facets of its public life, without allowing that faith tradition to become a coercive, rigid, over defined and oppressive lid on creativity and the endless tendency for forms to diversify. Yes, modern Israel needs to be in dialogue with the tradition from which it emerges - that is what makes it such a unique experiment. It is not a new expression of Islam or Christianity - it is a new expression of the group whose organising principals are some relationship with Jewishnes as faith, culture, history, sociological and personal experience. But no, there is no quintessential Judaism that can be pinned on individual Israelis as a straitjacket, even while a dialogue with the idea of a quintesential essence is maintained. (Its as valid as all other ideas...)

Secular Zionism as a cultural revolution drew upon ancient forms that Judaism had evolved and renewed them or discarded them or was informed by them or combined them with other forms. But post 67, as a national religious discourse has occupied an increasingly strident place in public debate, voices that want to create and transform and hybridise "the other"/"modernity" with varying of the inherited legacy of Judaisms (s intentional!) are increasingly under attack, from purists and gate kepers of "authentic" Judaism or "authentic" members of "Am Yisrael" (the Nation of Israel) as opposed to "traitors, leftists, yafei nefesh etc. ) Ironically the national-religious are also creating new forms all the time, but it seems to me these forms are not the vehicles for liberation that I and many Jews seek.


To paraphrase Ben Gurion: We must not let the reactivity and unconsciousneess of the Israel bashers distract us from the more urgent task of dealing with our own reactivity, conceptual rigidity and frequently low eq

Do earthworms get sore throats?

I've had an unshakeable cold/flu for the last two weeks, as well as thrush on my tongue. Normally I give all our food scraps to either our Spinifex hopping mice (if they're suitable for them, i.e. veggies) or to our earthworms who dutifully, and without being asked to, turn the scraps into beautiful plant food. But since I've been sick I certainly haven't been passing scraps I've gnawed at on to the hoppers, for fear of giving them a human disease. But I had assumd that earthworms are sufficiently different from me as to not need to be concrned about this. However I did pause to consider for a moment. Can earthworms get sore throats? Do they even have throats? These are the questions that keep me awake at night as on my bed I lie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Parental guidance required

...that night, as Alfredo had painful anal sex with his wife, who whimpered and begged him to stop, which only increased his excitement and he thrust into her more so that when he withdrew his penis there was blood on it, he warned her to stay away from the handsome Jew.

Be careful of them, he warned her, they only want to hurt people.


I associate sex with oil and movement...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I had a dream

I had a dream (don't we all?) that I was performing Cat Stevens songs to an audience - songs like Peace Train - and there was some anxiety in me about how I was doing, in the dream, would I be able to hit the high notes and smoothly execute the difficult bits? And I was doing OK with it, maybe even well, and there was a sense of relief when I had pulled off a slightly challenging line, but then somehow I was also in bed, or at least lying on my stomach., comatose, unable to move, and someone - I knew it was family, my wife or sons - was calling to me - they kept on calling to me and I could not move a muscle to respond, not even my lips or organs of speech and I was desperately trying to tell them if they wanted something from me they would have to help me, raise my head, cup it, free me...I strained terribly to overcome the paralysis, help me I tried to tell them, and succeeded in a small mumble...
help me
help me
then I awoke. It was Vivien calling me to wake up from what she had assumed had been a nightmare.
"You're having a bad dream" she said. "you've been mumbling and then saying help me, help me, help me.
It sems her trying to wake me up had entered my dream, and I'd hovered between my dream and the body in bed...


Monday, September 20, 2010

Having twins

Everyone knows that emotions frequently come in pairs. Which is why moments of great sadness are also often moments of great joy, and vice a versa. And why people often feel depressed at, or just after, their moment of victory. Or elated, in an unexpected way, at their moment of supposed defeat. This is partly tied to the fact that all defeats and victories are relative, and everything contains the seeds of its opposite. So, like a baby learning to walk, from our "defeats" come eventual victories, and from our victories come eventual defeats - for example the silence of ex-beatle Paul Mc Cartney, or the punch-drunkeness of Mohammed Ali.

You'd think the above would be a truism, but its not. People often seem surprised when others display two intense emotions simultaneously, when you're "supposed" to be only experiencing one. So giggling at funerals (perhaps because of the pomp and ceremony of it all), or sobbing as you're handed your long-awaited for Oscar (and perhaps feeling strangely numb or empty inside, not at all as you imagined it might be) while being perfectly natural or normal, are often regarded as slightly 'deviant' responses. And of course they're not. Because we've got twins.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back buttons and the architecture of choice

Studies have shown that more people will use the back button on their web browser than a "back" link on the web page they are viewing. My conjectures about the reasons for this are:

a) the back button on the browser is large and easy to see

b) It's function/reliability is predictable - it does the same thing each time you click it

c) Its location is predictable - the back button on your web browser is always in the same place, whereas a "back" link on the website you are visiting will often be in different places, depending on the website you are visiting.

d) The frequency of its use becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: people do and continue to do what they do most often


When offering consumers environmentally friendly options and nudging them towards choosing them, providers need to make sure that the options are

a) convenient
b) accessible
c) undemanding (for those who are not passionate about the environment)
d) predictable - eg you don't want to offer your customers bio-degradable bags that turn to dust on their way from their car (or the bus) to their front door
e) are in the same place next to the till each time they visit the shop - i.e predictable location
f) are free or priced competitively
g) piggy back on already established habits of consumption

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Am Not My Story

The first betrayal was when I left formlessness
to enter the womb
and the second betrayal was when I left South Africa for Israel
and the third betrayal was when I left yeshiva for the army
and the fourth betrayal was when I left Israel and returned to South Africa
and the fifth betrayal was when I left South Africa to become an Australian citizen
and now I have betrayed my stories
one too many times
too believe any of them


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finnegan's Wake in CyberSpace

What if James Joyce had written Finnegan's Wake in the age of CyberSpace? Then all those layers of meaning he tried to get with puns and ambiguity and homonyms (lashon nofel al lashon) he might have got by hypertexting almost every single word, which would link you to another source, which would link you to another...I thought of this while reading some heavily hypertexted blogs, where the text becomes a new kind of artefact. Not only does it stand as a unit in its own right, but each word, we are reminded, can become the centre-piece of some other post or article - just look at any wikipedia entry - so the sense of an article being bolted together from component words is much stronger than its is, perhaps, in static texts.

Are feel good endings in synch with life?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Manofesto's Yummy Veg Tofu Schnitzels

As one small way to reduce suffering in the world, and increase pleasure ( is pleasure merely the absence of suffering, or is it also a positive presence?) here is my home grown and home tested recipe for the most yummy delicious smackgrumptious tofu shnitzels. Quick, easy and very geshmakt, as they say in Yiddish. (and possibly in German as well, I don't know...)

To feed four hungry people take three blocks of Tofu, slice into pieces about 8mm thick, and marinate in soya sauce for a few hours. Add thinly sliced garlic and grated ginger to the marinade for extra pizzazz. If you haven't got that kind of time use garlic salt and ground ginger.

In the meantime heat up enough oil to deep fry the shnitzels - you'll need it to be at least a few centimetres deep. I use rice bran oil, which has a very high smoke point. When the oil is hot enough to pour on an attacking army, you're ready to get frying...

Gently ease the slices of tofu out of their tofu bath, trying not to wake the little dalins, and allow any excess marinade to drain off them. Then lightly coat them in either corn flour or chick pea flower (called Besan flower in some places.) Without hesitating, plunge the Tofu into a bowl where you have whipped two or three free range eggs, and them take them out and roll them in breadcrumbs. From there its only a short distance into the oil.

Once they are a nice tawny brown remove and drain on brown paper or an absorbent paper towel. Allow to cool a few minutes. I can testify that both kids and adults love these shnitzels, especially when served with wedges of lemon to squeeze on them.

Beteyavon (bon apetit) and may you be nurtured.

TIP: Buy the firmest Tofu you can find, and allow it to dry out a little before marinading. Don't make the slices too thin, or they'll fall apart when rolling them in the egg and breadcrumbs, but not to thick either, or they'll be a tad undercooked in the middle. A centimetre is fine.