October 22, 2003

"A Boxcar of Worms"

From family conversation I gathered that, outside of my Yiddish child-world, there were savages who didn’t have much to say but could fix the plumbing. They were fond of animals, liked to go swimming, loved to drink and fight. All their problems were solved when they hut geharget yiddin. Killed Jews. Only the last has been impossible for me to dismiss. Like many other people I have fixed my own plumbing, owned a dog and a cat, gotten drunk, etc., but everything in my life, beginning with English, has been an uncertain movement away from my hut geharget Yiddish childhood. When a BBC poet said he wanted to shoot Jews on the West Bank, I thought, “Epes. What else is new?” His righteousness, his freedom to say it, suggests that he believes he is merely speaking English, and antisemitism is a kind of syntax, or what Wittgenstein calls “a form of life.” But in fact there is something new, or anyhow more evident lately. The geharget yiddin disposition now operates at a remove. You see it in people who become hysterical when they feel that their ancient right to hate Jews is brought into question. To give an example would open a boxcar of worms.
From: Threepenny Review: Leonard Michaels, "My Yiddish" Posted by Vanderleun at October 22, 2003 3:52 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

This is a terrific, enjoyable essay, in the spirit of Montaigne.Thanks for the link, and the introduction to a writer I didn't know before.

Posted by: TK at October 23, 2003 2:40 PM