Page 32 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
and general miasma accompanying a global change that is h ap ­
pening too quickly to be efficiently processed, particularly in
the realm o f spirit.
However, when the works tend toward the sacred, one dis­
covers strong indication o f a comm itment to making the final
leap o f faith in o rd e r to reestablish what Grossman calls the
“domain o f sanctity . . . (in which) the holy thing becomes a
member o f that class o f things o f which . . . divinity itself is
a m ember,”4 In that modality it is no longer possible, o r nec­
essary, to separate the dancer from the dance.
SEARCH FOR SANC T ITY
In
The Want Bone,
Robert Pinsky attempts to bridge o r emu l­
sify the gap between God and (wo)man, the hum an and divine,
as depicted in the Genesis Adamic legend. Expulsion from Eden
o r Paradise, established an au tho ritarian pa ttern in which h u ­
mans are taugh t to model themselves as Godly prototypes, little
lower than the angels. Yet divinity without a leap o f faith, in
Kierkegaardian terms, remains impossible; thus resulting in the
angst o f separation.
Pinsky addresses and attempts to resolve this estrangem en t
by using the fictive substance o f memories to bond the reade r
to a commonality o f self in spiritual conflict. One o f the most
plentiful and reliable sources for poetic material, identity with
a personal past, invokes immediate empathy for the full spec­
trum o f nostalgic sensibilities: guilt, remorse, regret, sorrow,
hope, affirmation, particularly when the audience is a known
factor. To the Jew, who has often been forced for the sake
o f survival to become a chameleon as well as an en ter ta iner,
“reading the house,” o r in this case, read ing the reader, is sec­
ond nature . In Pinsky’s poetry, drops o f honey on talmudic
pages o f pilpul are rewards for memorized lessons. U n fo r tu ­
nately, however, the pages now stick together and time has
erased the codified continuum . In tended to be inscribed “as
frontlets between your eyes”
(The Want Bone),
Pinsky has en ­
coun tered spiritual stigmatism. He quarrels with blinders o f a
past that no longer seems viable, o r even relevant.
When he attempts to accommodate his vision to con temporary
4. Grossman, “The Sieve,” p. 47.