Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tom 'n Jay

How do I come across these things, it happens as I search for -- not answers, there are no answers only findings, opinions, views, conclusions of scholars who devote their lives and earn their livelihood from exploration and sharing and publishing, and publishing mandatory new editions with colored pictures replacing black and white graphs -- as I search, sometimes feverishly lest +Time run out before I know everything, to find out whatever is to be found and contemplated. Maybe the joy of the search is an answer to the nonplussingly obtuse question “What difference does it make?” 

Yesterday in searching for sumpmnother about Anthony Bloom I found The Satirist with Dan Geddes’ review of The Book of J by Harold Bloom. Actually, it’s Harold Bloom working over J translated by David Rosenberg; it looks to me like David did the work and Harold the thinking. What they did was browse the Pentateuch, cull out everything by the J writer, which Rosenberg then translated from Hebrew into English. The result, with J freed from E, P, D and the Redactor, is a fellow who comes across as mischievous, self-contradictory, somewhat irrational and self-defeating, obstructionist, Geddes uses the word impish. I might add machiavellian, self-centered and arrogant, confounding, capricious, sometimes inhuman and rather maliciously seems to enjoy it. But as Mr. Beaver said, "Safe?! Who said anything about safe? Course he's not safe. But he's good." Geddes writes such an intriguing review that I ended up doing two things. I subscribed to The Satirist free online (if I don’t like it or if Geddes overwhelms me I’ll cancel) and I ordered a penny copy of The Book of J, hard-cover, very good condition, via Amazon. 

What the hell am I doing ordering a book? Leaving Apalachicola seventeen years ago, I orphaned more than half of my personal library of beloved books, not easy for one to whom each book is like a child; and just now moving from eighteen rooms to three I parted with 95 percent of the rest, there’s no room here for a new book. No, there is room in my mind, and when I’m not reading it I’ll keep it here by my chair under my coffee cup. When I’m done I’ll take it to the office or to the church library.
 My Tuesday morning Bible Seminar folks seem as curious as I am, and this Fall 2015, God and +Time willing, I may want to start again with Genesis if I can find my copy of Understanding Genesis (Sarna), which along with Christine Hayes’ lecture transcript is my best reference for it, and use Bloom also as a new POV on Jay.

An example of J’s complex nature is He pats out a mudpie and breathes life into it to create Ish, a mud doll, an earthling; cultivates Ish as a walking buddy; fixes up a lovely garden for Ish to tend, farm and feed himself; has him live in a world with talking animals like Narnia; plants a tree with luscious fruit right in the middle but tells Ish not dare even touch it, then when Ish is tempted and tastes it anyway goes into a rage and punishes Ish all out of proportion to his sin. He thwarts not only Ish, but Himself. That’s Jay alright. 

Even my middle-school seventh graders “got it” eight or ten years ago when we were studying Genesis, when they asked, “If He didn’t want Adam to eat the apple, why did He plant the tree in the middle of the garden in the first place?” The only correct answer is “Exactly!” Yep, that's Jay.

And the difference it makes is the search and discovery v. being content with knowing not and knowing I know not, which as the 1940s radio song said, "It pays to be ignorant."

Hey, BTW, ich hei├če Tom, not to be presumptive and I should have asked earlier, but may I call you Jay? I have another buddy named Jay who is equally puzzling, maybe it’s the Name. Like me, he’s obsessed with the flashing green light across the Bay. Like you, he too is somewhat of an enigma.


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