Thursday, November 15, 2012
First to explain the photo. It is taken at the Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago which has a gorgeous series of mosaics some of which contain quotes pertaining to reading. The building was formerly the main downtown library branch until it was replaced by a modern building a few blocks away. Now the building is used for cultural events and it is still a wonderful public space. It took a little research to translate and identify the quotation (and Google translate failed miserably) even though I read a bit of Hebrew but I found that the quote is from Isaiah.
Here it is in Hebrew: ונתן הספר על אשר לא ידע ספר לאמר קרא נא זה
This is the quote with context although I might quibble with a few details of the translation: 11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”
Now for the reason I chose this photo. I was reading an Israeli novel (in English, my Hebrew's not that good!) and I couldn't resist sharing a quote. The novel is The Liberated Bride by AB Yehoshua, an author I've read and enjoyed before. I haven't finished this particular book but my current impression is that it is overlong and that although I like the insights into Israeli and Arab culture, I don't particularly like the main character. He gets on my nerves to say the least.
The writing, however, is wonderful, and this paragraph in which two academics discuss a paper about Algerian history made me chuckle.
The young postmodernist was happy to explain. In articulate, if rather mechanical and (Rivlin thought) smugly jesuitical language, he demystified the devious concept of national identity, which served to ghettoize the lower clases and deprive them of their rights within the rigid framework of the national state, whether----for there was no difference----this was of an openly totalitarian or an ostensibly democratic nature.
In case you are mystified, what made me laugh was how perfectly the author captures a certain type of academic-speak and why I avoid a certain type of University of Chicago gathering. Content be damned, it seems to say, so long as you say it articulately, if mechanically!