Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 43

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34
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
still intends to retain a half ownership in his and his wife’s house.9
As he begins to cross the hospital grounds, heading for a hole that
he knows exists in the fence and for the taxi waiting beyond it, he
hears dogs barking and imagines that one of them is his old pet
‘Ratio, who now lives with Naomi in the hospital.10 He feels the
wind on his face, looks at the clouds, reflects on how all things are
symbols,11 and muses on the pleasure his own self-destruction is
giving him.12
Suddenly Yehuda Kaminka sees Musa in front of him. Though
the man, he reflects, has an Arab-sounding name, he must be a
Jew .13 And Musa is in a Neanderthal rage.”14 Though Kaminka
now realizes that his life as in danger, it is already too late. In an­
other moment, he senses — and we, the readers know — he will
be dead on the ground.
The reader may have noted that one key image in this passage,
with which the present essay began, has not yet been mentioned:
“the flood of lunar light” that greets Yehuda Kaminka as he
strides across the hospital grounds toward his fate. Yet surely by
now this image is self-explicating: almost universally in the realm
9 Though the Jewish psyche is now hopelessly split between its warring mascu­
line and feminine halves, these two are also hopelessly bound together and
must continue to inhabit the same people even if they are seemingly “di­
vorced.”
10 In English I translated the name of this dog (who, in an unpublished draft o f
Yehoshua’s novel, like Agnon’s Balak in
Yesteryear,
had a whole chapter to him­
self) as Horatio, and his nickname as ‘Ratio, thereby introducing an allusion to
the “male” principle of Reason. In Hebrew, however, the symbolism is more
direct: the animal is named
Horatsius
and is called for short
Tse’us
which is the
Hebrew for Zeus, the Greek Father-and-Sky-God — now reduced to being the
slobbering companion of an insane woman. In this last chapter
Horatsius
is lost,
nearly gets run over by the Kaminkas’own car, and finallyjoins a pack o f wild
dogs and wanders with them over the hosptial grounds.
11 As indeed in
A Late Divorce
they are, including the sky-images o f wind and
clouds.
12 As it loses its grip over a feminizing culture the patriarchal principle knows
that it is dooming itself— yet the hedonistic gratifications of its surrender are
such that it cannot offer serious resistance.
13 While remaining formally Jewish, the Jewish people in its return to the Land
of Israel has in fact “gone native”and lost its historic identity. Musa is the Arab
form o f Moses — who here turns on Jehovah (all four letters o f whose
tetragammeton are contained in the name Yehuda) and murders him.
14 Although the killing o f God-the-Father takes place in a modern, Western
society, it triggers a violent psychic regression to primitive, pre-patriarchal
modes of consciousness.