Page 60 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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T h e doorway in which was framed an event tha t could have
been e ither supe rna tu ra l o r natura l is very much like a theatrical
fram e .12T here are two simultaneous in terp re ta tions to any event
tha t occurs on a stage: T he work o f ar t m irro rs reality (the mad
musician), the work o f a r t is pu re invention (Satan). In addition,
the spectator at the thea tre is constantly shifting his point o f view
from the action on the stage (or in the doorway) to the action in his
real life. The world o f
The Portage
is the world o f the theatre. Thu s
the action o f the dram a shifts constantly from the Ajalon o f
Emmanuel Lieber to the Hell o f the Israeli Nimrods. It shifts
from there to the grade-B movie world o f Kulken and
Crownbacker. Crownbacker’s scenario, in which he creates mil­
lion dollar deals for movie rights and tee shirts, is also a fiction. In
“reality,” he is a CIA agent sent to get his hands on H itler first.
T h e re is a fiction within the fiction tha t m irrors the fiction.
T he most telling shift o f point o f view is, o f course, tha t which
takes place between the world o f the jung le and the civilized
world represen ted by Oxford , Moscow, Koln, Paris, and
Washington, D.C. In themselves, each one o f these scenes may be
taken as a caricature o f a particular nation. Cumulatively, these
scenes create a powerful dramatic effect. T he seeds o f doub t are
sown as we progress from the detached scholarliness o f the histo­
rian Ryder to the KGB’s rewriting o f history for political exped i­
ency. The meaning o f the word “civilized” is called into question
as we examine the primitive behavior o f the representatives o f the
most refined cultures, Germany and France. T he music-loving
German , Gervinus Rothling, relives with obvious sensuous relish
the memories o f his H itler years:
I Gervinus Rothling have emptied life no t from a glass bu t
from a magnum . . . . A magnum , a Jeroboam , till it was
empty. I wouldn’t trade. I wouldn’t pu t my memories on
sale o r flaunt them like leprosy. God how we lived! Each te r ­
rible year like a hund red ordinary years, like a thousand . He
was true to his word. A thousand-year Reich inside each o f
12 The notion of the theatrical frame as it is proposed here was first elaborated by
Erving Goffman,
Frame Analysis,
New York: Harper & Row 1974.