Page 76 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
“Muddling” the Bible means destroying its order and gen­
erating epistemological chaos out of which some new narrative
will be devised; rewriting it would therefore dislocate its immu­
table meaning and alter the cosmic order which its text to a
large extent has created. There is no salvation to be found in
order imposed upon the individual from outside, or, by exten­
sion, the national, religious or cultural “duty” represented, per­
haps, by the biblical text. Amichai somewhat enigmatically
equates salvation with chaos:
When the sea says “shore”
and the shore says “sea”
salvation will come to the world,
the world will return to chaos.18
The second axis of this poetry is also clearly represented in
Asinu.
The devices of camouflage, concealment and pretence
are examined and analyzed with greater explicitness than in
Yovlot milhamah,
through effective
textual
camouflage, the delib­
erate blurring of meaning and intention. Neatness and precision
as an orderly framework for containing chaos is a customary
image, one which Amichai has frequently utilized, but the no­
tion of despair as the tidy garden disguising untamed hope is
ironically effective even if the substance of the despair and the
hope is unspecified. Domesticated despair and nightmare hope
are compelling inversions of the conventional but they remain
general indicators of mood rather than explications of history.
The point is that neatness and order are controlling devices
which conceal the real. The final stanza of the poem reinforces
the idea of illusion by presenting the essence of make-believe,
the cinema, with its artificial alternations of light and darkness.
LEVELS OF MEANING
The stratagem of disguise is extended from the simple mask,
such as the chrysanthemums cloaking the battlefield, or the or­
derly garden screening the disorder beneath it, to actual trans­
mutations of language, and the displacement and deferment
o f meaning rendered by Amichai’s densely concentrated similes
17. Nili Scharf-Gold,
Veha-nedarim lo nedarim,
in
Siman Keriah,
no. 22 July 1991
p. 368.
18.
Gam ha-egrof,
p. 48.