Passover & the Bright Light of Realism

Chag Sameach, Happy Passover!

Some thoughts: American optimism has had its appeal to Jews, especially after endless struggles in the old country – but helium in that balloon has the wheeze of exhaustion. We are now returned to realism, to our relatives and wisdom teachers which look hard at us. Refusing to sugarcoat, the tradition says about us, “eh.” Great promise, just off the mark.

Which include Wittgenstein: we are back to the rough ground. We go through the mud. Mud and desert; desert and mud. Spring mud, deep mud, detritus of history, mud on our face. Humiliation of being slaves mud, retribution mud. We were strangers in a strange land mud; of squaring who we are now mud. We can’t come to freedom without feeling the hardness beneath us; we can’t come out shining without the bone-deep knowledge of suffering, squaring, struggling.

Freedom comes in all kinds of wrappings. Epiphanies that burn through time, “a once-and-for-all thing, opaque and revelatory, ceaselessly burning.” (C.D. Wright) In stepping out of historic time into mythic “I was there I know” time. Seeing that freedom, like being, is a ceaseless process, invented and re-invented with every stroke and gesture of composition. Against the hard ground we stand a chance; solidifying against apathy, softening for empathy. The poetry that is shot through our tradition, like all great poetry, comes from looking long and hard, into the abyss, the stars and the human heart. Reality looked hard at is light-bearing. Not for the faint of heart – but with true reward. Chag Sameach!

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