Beiträge von M.C. Blumenthal

Brodsky, Walcott, Heaney and Me

Brodsky, Walcott, Heaney and Me   Cambridge, 1984   It was l984. They were all still alive, none had yet won the Nobel. I was 35, forever humming the Talking Heads’ line How did I get here? to myself as I walked through Harvard Square. As I remember, we all ordered hamburgers. My friend Harry, […]

At the Funeral of My Friend George Konrad

At the Funeral of My Friend George Konrad   What are you doing inside that box, dear friend? What are you doing there, dissident-in-residence, man of a thousand smiles, guest in your own country? A small flotilla of rabbis surrounds you, here in yet another Jewish ghetto, much like the ghetto you hid in as […]


THE LOVER AND THE BELOVED   Each role must, of course, be taken on by one of the parties, and it is usually– in each and every relation– the same one who takes on, over and over again, the same role. Ergo the repetitive nature of relationships, failures and dissatisfactions. For, as with the chosen […]


CARING FOR YOU   I tell you I care for you, which must seem to you at first (both because it is and because it isn’t) a lesser thing than saying I love you. For, in caring for you, I offer you-not necessarily the ambiguous and dangerous eros of my passions (which we both equally fear […]


KEEPING THINGS WHOLE   „In a field,“ poet Mark Strand has written, „I am the absence/ of field… I move/ to keep things whole.“ And who-fearful, abandoned, pre-emptive, trembling, has not used their absences to „keep things whole?“ But this not-presence as a way of keeping ourselves together, a way of insisting on the self […]


THE SOMBER AND THE SERIOUS   How deeply we would like, in our heart of hearts, as the poet Stephen Dunn has written, „to take the somber out of the serious!“ Yet, as is so often the case, the semantic error becomes the emotional one, so that instead of reflecting the greater wisdom (that the […]


WHAT IS SHARED   As true intimacy between persons diminishes into a cacophony of the false intimacies of mass communication, transient meetings and the endless babble of those with very little to be intimate about,a new language quickly rises up, whose purpose is nothing less than to mask the true emptiness of most human encounters […]


EYES   In the interpersonal world, the eyes, above all, are the source of our initial power over others, which is why cultures and religions throughout history have sought to regulate the stare, the gaze, the glance, the mask. Even in our political and national security life, the words „FOR EYES“ on a government document […]


LIGHT AND DARK Light, rather naturally, is the thing we most want to own, that we are most deeply drawn to– so much so, in fact, that we tend to hate and disown the darkness within ourselves to a degree that effectively sabotages most of our human relations. Unable to tolerate our own sadness, rage, […]


IDOLATRY There is a point at which even the most sincerely held affections can also become an idolatry, where enthusiasm crosses the line into worship so that all other possibilities, all other moralities, become absorbed into the thing revered. Artists, perhaps most of all (except for those who merely worship money), seem prone to this […]


GIVENS   You ransack your head and heart for an idea, a thought worthy of the arrogance of being written down, a tune that lays claim, somehow, to the lyrical. Yet some days there is only the light patina of snow outside, the scent of coffee rising from your cup, the after‑tingle of someone you […]


BATTLES   „The willingness to do battle out of faith,“ Amoz Oz quotes a resident of the Israeli settlement of Ofra is his book The Land of Israel.  So that war, if it is justified at all, is justified on religious grounds, on the faith in a better politic, a more just social order, a […]


THOSE WHO BELONG TOGETHER   „People need not be glued together when they belong together.“  These were the parting words of Sigmund Freud to Theodor Reik on their parting in Vienna. But they ought to be the words of all those who love each other on parting‑‑ of two beings so secure in their own […]


WORDS   People tell you you have a way  with words, suggesting that words themselves are a sort of path, an entrance to something, a route. „Somewhere in the middle of my life I lost my way,“  reads the usual English translation of Dante, and it is precisely words he uses to rectify his loss, […]


CORNERS   We speak of „turning a corner“ as if life contained a geometry so precise, a landscape so clear, a series of hairpin turns so well defined, that we could shimmy willfully and easily along in it, moving from forest to mesa, prairie to desert, mountain to ocean. But‑‑ change being slow, laborious, painfully […]


SLEEPING TOGETHER   We say that people „fuck“ or „make love“‑‑ more intimately, that they sleep together, though the latter doesn’t necessarily connote the sexual act. Yet somehow this sleeping together ‑‑  this engaging in the act of joined sleep, this shared journey into the unconscious‑‑ is the most intimate, the most bonding, act of […]


TOUCHED   It occurs to me, working occasionally as a therapist as I do and attempting to honor the frequently simple‑minded „ethics“ of that profession (and of academic life as well), how unnatural‑‑ indeed, violative of natural human affinities‑‑ such ethics are, their perversity extending to the core of language itself. For is it any […]


THE DOGMA OF THE SELF The worst dogma, the one which causes us the most personal pain, is the dogma of the fixed self‑‑ the I am so‑and‑so soliloquy that takes place between a person and his own self‑fixating nature. Denying our own natural flux, the daily and perpetual task of re‑making, we crave the […]