Saturday, June 27, 2009

High Contrast

I have spent the better part of the last few days studying Jewish texts with friends from across the country. We call ourselves, Mifgash, Hebrew for coming together or encounter.

I am the token non intellectual allowed to listen in and occasionally try to squeeze in a word (with only limited success) in an audacious and pithy discussion of personal struggles, political realities, and moral imperatives. The rigor and humor and depth and dimensionality of the discussions make me feel so alive.

Today was extra special in that we discussed Levinas, the philosopher and Taldmudist who most informs my life. The philosophy of this giant of Western thinking is not rooted in ontology or epistemology, but in the moral demands of the other, and not in some abstract concept of the other, but in the particular face of the next person you encounter, friend or stranger. An example mentioned was the primal demands of the crying baby that pierces and shatters the world you have constructed, and demands you deal with someone else. No man is an island.  A neat construct of the world is smashed by the need to acknowledge and serve those you encounter, each and every one. That is the core of his philosophy: a highly demanding morality. 

Levinas' texts are very opaque and not easily digested or unpacked. I need a teacher, and I had a great one today.

We have also looked at vexing questions in traditions of forgiveness, moral education. the need to move beyond the Holocaust,  and the middle east. Great stuff, great people. Stretches my mind and forces me to reexamine my beliefs. I have added 4 more books to my must read list.

But I left early on Friday night to go a place where within 50 feet I could find a tattoo parlor, a head shop, an adult bookstore, and a Laserium. 

I am of course talking about Hollywood and Vine. In case you wondered, I was there for the opening of the last, the Laserium. Some good friends are founders of  this very different kind of mind expanding project. That, by the way is where I got my picture taken with Mick Fleetwood. It is also where I listen to an incredible sound system that punched out the sounds of the Beatles, while 3 dimensional lasers danced wildly to the beats all over the theater.  Very trippy. Listen to the color of your dreams. The Beatles rock my world.

And a high contrast to my Sabbath studies.

Despite how tiring all this is, it all helps recharge my batteries for the road ahead.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a boundless source of energy Brian.... I get tired reading all you're doing and absorbing...

Great to be on your Blog.


June 28, 2009 at 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy rebirthday! What a great collage of stuff. So happy to hear about your response (I got here through the CLL site) - and so interested in your searchings. I'm a little younger than you and over the past 6 years of my fairly robust remission my onc has been mumbling about transplant. As I feel my nodes swelling bit by bit, my feeling is: I've got a preteen going through bar mitzvah preps, a tenuous financial situation, community demands -- I don't have time for this! But reading your post, I see that in some ways it is the crying baby, demanding that I deal with myself. yikes. I'm not ready to confront it!! I admire your courage in jumping right in there, and sharing it with the world. Rock on, Brian!

July 2, 2009 at 6:04 AM  

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