Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rhyme of the modern sub-mariner

The albatross around my neck is actually a spinifex mouse. Well actually, 30 spinifex mice. For which the licensing and reportage requirements are heavy brother, heavy. And never mind the guilt feelings that they live in glass aquariums in the basement.


Uncle B's Lullaby

coming soon

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Multi-identities: South African - Jewish - Israeli-Idealist

Ideally Speaking is a series of interviews with a wide cross-section of South African and ex-South African Jews.

Steve Hellmann and Lindsay Talmud explore the memories, thoughts and present day activities of people whose youthful experiences led them to try and make the world a better place. The interviews were done with graduates of Habonim, Betar and Hashomer Hatzair, as well as with people who were not active members of Zionist youth movements.

Set against the backdrop of Israel's struggle to sustain a credible democracy and the many challenges facing post-apartheid South Africa, this question is particularly relevant and sometimes painful.
Ideally Speaking is bound to stimulate serious discussion as well as a lot of nostalgia.

List of participants

Israel: Alan Apter Steven Aschheim Moshe ben Ami Louise Bethlehem Arnie Friedman Aryeh Gilat Merle Guttman Alan Hoffmann Harry Hurwitz Meir Jaffe Janina Kahn-Horwitz Hertzel Katz Jerrold Kessel David Kretzmer Ron Lapid Zeev Mankowitz Raphael Melmed Tzvi Pantanowitz Benjamin Pogrund Gideon Shimoni Itz Stein Meir Winokur

South Africa: Lael Bethlehem Johnny Broomberg Jules Browde Selma Browde Geoff Budlender Johnny Copelyn Dennis Davis Mickey Korzennik Michael Kuper Leon and Lorna Levy Alan Lipman Ronnie Miller Illona Tip

Elsewhere: Sidney Bloch Sam Fanaroff Michael Hayden Manfred Kagan Ronni Kahn Richard Kuper Shula Marks Vivian Rakoff Michael Schneider

The Editors

Steve Hellmann and Lindsay Talmud are graduates of South African Habonim, Steve from Johannesburg, Lindsay from Cape Town. They came on aliyah in the sixties as members of Garin Etgar and settled on kibbutz Tzora.

Steve: Still lives on Tzora, where he has been actively involved in various aspects of kibbutz life. He worked as Central Shaliach in Johannesburg for South African Habonim in 1976-8. Steve has worked primarily in education, with English teaching and teacher training as his main focus. He is the co-author of Kidworld, an ESL textbook.

Lindsay: Was a member of Tzora for five years and then went to London to study Middle Eastern History and Arabic. He returned to Israel in 1998 and now lives on moshav Ramat Raziel, where he has his pottery studio. Lindsay's professional life has encompassed teaching history and special needs, designing furniture, translating, editing and writing.

The book can be ordered from Amazon ; Barnes & Noble,
The Book Depository; and as a Kindle e-book. Also available from Ingram, and Baker & Taylor. Prices fluctuate around $16

Sunday, April 24, 2011


It seems to me that at a certain point in its evolution, rabbinic Judaism began to suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the balance between finely tuned ritual and the spontaneous expression of joyous encounter with the divine was lost, or at least obscured.


When my stomach can't work in the morning (and I'm using breakfast cereal euphemisms here) because I have a meeting or birthday party or some other obligation to rush to, then, when I do eventually get to sit upon my royal throne later in the day, the resulting production is usually voluminous - in other words, the delay proves worthwhile, and if someone were posting the contents of my nappy in a gallery of contemporary art (as Anthony Lejeune complained about in one of his "London Letters", as we sat in the Valiant parked at the Wanderers club circa 1976 and one of the highveld's spectacular sunsets turned from gradated purples and blues and orange red indigoes into night, and listened to him on the "English Service" as it was named... ) I might certainly win critical acclaim for quantity as well as, hopefully quality.

In the same way my poetry colletion, which must be deferred again and again beause of our economic "realities" (i.e my self esteem needs to see my kids fed and clothed and housed and schooled at a level that matches - more or less - their peers) will hopefully eventually emerge rich and bounteous.


It seems to me that Jews have well developed pain bodies (Eckhart Tolle), a well developed special-case drama, a well developed victimology - all of which make us an incredibly reactive lot - and yet, despite this, or perhaps exactly because we have these all too human dramas - we too are worthy of unconditional love and respect just for being - and halevai that I will come to know this soon

The loose alliance whose commanality is to demonize Israel and Israelis will gain a certain foothold in Western countries, becaue so much of Western so called civilization is built opon repression, disassociation, splitting and projection, and all that unacknowledged psychic discontents - all the ruthless aggression of the West which manifested in colonialism and the slave trade and the crusades and world wars - has not dissapeared - and it must be projected outwards onto some other demonized other. Because if you're a green you can no longer make blacks or gays or woman or gypsies or whomever the despised other, and because it is still politically incorrect to do this overtly with the "the Jews", the Israelis serves as a more acceptable option on which to vomit "I-can't-own-this-as-my- own"contents.

Of course no one is immune from these mechanisms, and right wingers have similar projections, onto minorities or Moslems or Jews, but their projections onto Israel are often "positive", i.e the stereotype of Israel plays a positive rather than a negative role in their internal cosmology. The Islamic world also has these powerful projections, and there because political correctness is not a factor, much of the Islamic world has no problem with overt state sponsored predjuidice against Jews/Zionists/ Israel (the terms are used interchangeably - just look at the Chamas charter.)

Jews too have no immunity from this process, and project their own dicontents onto the other, but their projections are relatively small and weak, because of their small numbers, and so, like the Armenians (and to a lesser extent the Tutsi, where an umambiguous historical record has not fully emerged) usually don't manage to return the projections with the same force that they are thrust upon them.

However all victims, i.e people who belive and tell themelves they are victims, are terribly dangerous, as Byron Katie says, and this would include anyone who kills from a sense of victimhood, be it Palestinians or Israelis, Shia or Sunni, Basque or Kurd or Tibetan (how is it that there are no Tibetan suicide bombers if suicide bombing is a deterministic consequence of "the occupation?")


In my experience people who support very strident and hysterical and one sided* campaigns to boycott Israel in support of Palestinain rights, and who loudly and visibly declare their Jewishness, usually have no specific Jewish practices in their lives, have no lived Jewishness, no involvement in Jewish community as understood by the overwhelming majority of identifying Jews, and only label themselves Jewish / claim their Jewishness in the context of a campaign to attack and delegitimise other Jews.

Until the playing fields are equal, an criticism of Israel is not masively contaminated by a visceral and unconscious hatred which exists for its own sake, no identifying Jew can attach themselves to such a programme without turning their back on th collective to which they claim they are part of.

(* These campaigns show no concern, and don't even acknowledge that Israelis have an equal and equivalent right to life and freedom from terror, sudden maiming, kidnapping, rocket and mortar fire and the underlying systematic dehumanisation which props up the violence against them etc.)

The Witch of Washington

See also Let's do coffee sometime

Helen Joseph, the witch of Washington:

"Go back, go back, go back to your ghettoes
go back go back to your auto de fe
go back go back to your forced conversions
go back go back to your cossack pogroms
go back go back to your landless pale
go back go back to your second class status
go back go back to your yellow stars
go back go back to your blood libels and expulsions
go back go back to the state theft of your property
go back go back to your Chmielniki massacres
go back go back to your cattle trucks and pile of spectacles
go back go back to your death camps and crematoria
go back and vanish from my sight
like a wisp of smoke that never was


Dictator giving a speech, a tirade against some target group, in subtitles appears a translation of what he really means:
(my mommy never loved me, she was cold and remote)
(my father beat me mercilessly)
(I drowned a few puppies but soon decided it would be better to kill anyone who didn't agree with me) etc etc



psychologist as a deflated balloon, thin and rather scawny, but slightly buoyant, able to float a few feet above the chair
a client comes in , they are a huge and mishapen inflated balloon, a small rush of words leaks out as they uncomfortably settle down in chair, words leaking onto carpet, thenthere is a huge rush of words as the mouth of their baloon connects with the therapists "mouth"...thir words get pushed into the therapist, injected, they slowly deflate, but the therapist is now much bigger, filled with the rush ofwords, the therapist tries to disengage, thrashes around a bit, eventually the client baloon stahggers out, but in passing another huge and misshapen balloon enters, again there is an exchange of words, as the client uses their ovipositor to lay their words in the therapist, by the third client the therapist is no longer buoyant but weighed down in the chair, and almost as large as the client, by the fourth they are ready to explode and have begun leaking words themselves....

cut to

supervision. The leaking therapist is unburdening with a supervisory baloon, who grows a little bigger with each supervisory session

cut to

the supervisor is getting supervision from...

Can a "corrective emotional experience" include sex with the therapist? Not if the therapist will be guilt racked afterwards, apologetic, and wanting some kind of ritual humiliation at the hands of the client in order to atone.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Resentment by any other name would smell as rotten

When I was attempting to be a teacher, I was experiencing some difficulty with classroom management. While speaking to a friend of mine, who has a wicked sense of humour, the following piece of advice was proffered. He said I should identify the smallest and weakest girl in the class, walk up to her, and punch her in the face. In that way I would get all the class trouble makers on side, and prove my credentials. I didn't take his advice, but is seems the merry folk of Marrickville Council (Marrickville rated the place with highest incidence of subjective unhapiness in Australia?) are acting upon that advice, and have selected a soft target with big enemies as a way of proving their PC credentials.

Why are these heroic defenders of the oppressed not boycotting Chinese goods....China's occupation and repopulation of Tibet have had a far more devestating and irreversible impact on Tibetans than Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank where, incidentally, under Israeli "occupation" the Palestinain population has quadrupled ) and China's general record on Human Rights is far worse than Israel's....
There are at least two dozen other regimes around the world who are in conflict with rival national movements (for example Turks and Kurds, Russian and Chechneya etc) and who brutally supress these national movements in ways in which Israel, under intense and obsessive and microscopic international scrutiny, would never permit itself too, and yet the Marrickville council has singled it out as the only offender on the international stage worth boycotting.

Can anyone offer a convincing and rational explanation as to why only Israel is worthy of the Council's condemnation and boycott?
Methinks something's rotten in the state of Marrickville

Struggling in Sydney

I've now been unemployed for more than a year, and the thin odour of desperation is now beeginning to eexude from me, mingled with my perspiration. Thanks but no thanks letters to my job applications have now become so routine I expect nothing else, and have mostly stopped applying for jobs where I have no prior personal relationship with anyone in the organisation.

Its not just jobs where I have some expertise that I get turned down for, but any kind of job including 'menial' ones. [Of course no work is menial, but I did not get the postmanjob I applied for, or the driver position with an aged care outfit.] And not only do I get turned down from them, I simply never hear from some organisations, be it a nursery needing someone to distribute plants to hardware stores, or the white ribbon campaign against domestic violence. (well the white ribbon campaign I did get a telephonic interview during which I questioned the efficacy of the campaign and predictably never heard from them again. In Australia thinking out of the box is punished swiftly and as inevitably as dogs, rabbits, red foxes and camels have replaced quolls and lesser bilbys.)

I apply, and then there is the deafening silence of the intake of my breath as another bill arrives in the mail. Scary stuff.

And yet I still wish to write freely and creatively, even though the basic survival needs of my family scream for my attention. Ah, what is it I am not seeing?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sulam Yaakov

See also poems 2011-5771 and poems 2012-5772

lying in the dark
desperate and
what could become alive
for a warm hand to touch
energy hurling itself
against the bars of the body
like a circus tiger or a cow in a slaughter box

what can be done with:
stick it in
shove it up
spread them
give it to em
show em whose boss
pound that
push it in deep
flick them
pinch and pull them
bang em?


I love to go up
but when I come down
to check my ladder's legs
are firmly planted
I usually miss
a couple of rungs
and fall with a bump
from which it can take
a long time to recover
by which time I'm already
wondering up again


I'm dying
but politely

O Lord
help me to accept with grace my chains
and then see they aren't even chains


I have this terrible itch in my side
I think G-d may be making
a woman out of me


There once was an ugly duckling
who masturbated all night in front of the tv set
only to discover
in the morning
he was really a drake

bodies will die
heads will fly
babies will cry
and the Self reign supreme

symphonies written
lovers smitten
the shy twice bitten
and the Self reign supreme






that which you like
that which you dislike
are one


A Song of Praise - Nishmat Kol Chai

The soul of every living thing praises you, unnameable One, and awareness everywhere celebrates being.
Always you are, from womb to tomb, from moment to infinity, and there is no other who liberates and redeems,
enchains and sustains, saves and contains.
In moments of contraction You are thinner than a hair, in moments of expansion more vast than a galaxy
Nothing is except You, unconditionally and purposelessly, eternally.
Present at the first and Present at the last, you are the indweller of every form
in every generation
the mystery that is always in front of us, of itsSelf
always adored, that arranges all
with mercy and kindness
You never awake, and you never sleep
you spin the wheel, you ARE the wheel
bringing sleep to the weary
wakefulness to the numb
speech to the dumb
silence to the busy
and let us say



Non dual prayers and blessings / tefilot and berachot

Blessed are you, O Lord, our G-d, the fountain of being, who puts us in chains and remove the chains
you give us bodies and take them away
who starves us and beats us and soothes us and feeds us
who puts us in crematoria and gives us fresh hope
who makes one man poor and onther one wealthy
who makes one woman prime minister and another a slave
(to be continued)


You think you're so smart, don't you
with your big breasts poking out at me
and your micky mouse slippers

You think you're so smart
with your 40 DDs
make me weak in the knees
I'll say anything to please
till they've been sucked and flicked and licked
and you've been dicked

often I am having two conversations with women simultaneously and, come to think of it, in an entirely different way, with men as well

On a similar note:
I fall asleep watching porn
penises stuffed into orifices
somewhere near woodstock
Chava and Adam
walk hand in hand
without any clothes
without any shame


going to a rugby game
I allow myself to be processed with all the rest
I drink my beer
I ride the bus
I do not talk of vegetarianism or sexual repression
I do not make a fuss

I shout the slogans