Abstract Expressionism From the Pews of the High Holy Days;

WordPress is revamping and moving my template automatically to a new format Pilcrow, which is depressing as I had grown to love Pressrow, and nothing else seems to do as well! Thinking of moving on to a new site when it officially happens, like a secret revolt. Pilcrow is nowhere near Pressrow. Sometimes I don’t understand why people like changing the good things for the sake of change, but I sense I’ll be a stubborn little old lady in time unable to move away from 1940s movies and my violin concertos while the world rages on.

Meanwhile, the criminal law cases are floating in my mind, and I’m trying to soak up all these Malay, Chinese and Indian names with the best of my ability. I am also playing my part for world destruction by printing pages of things I have no time to read. Sometimes the procrastinating activities defy logic. I also have a recent fondness for Perrier with lemon, sugar pretzel biscuits and Badly Drawn Boy. And other depressing tunes which Joe had shared with me back in first year, London.

Came across an interesting article during my break, from Etsy:

Like many of the bagel-and-bacon Jews I’m surrounded by in Brooklyn, I too spend more time in synagogue this week than I do the rest of the entire year. The reflective period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur inevitably leads me on the quest for a personal connection to elusive texts of repentance, particularly once the fast begins.

Last fall, one week before the High Holy Days, the ceiling of our century-and-a-half-old sanctuary collapsed. The reconstruction has been long and arduous, and this year, as with last, our services are being held not in another synagogue or secular community space, but instead a few blocks away in the Old First Reformed Church. There are visual cues of holiness to which I am accustomed: gilded organ pipes, worn wooden pews. And then my eyes wander to the shelved hymnals and the immense oil painting of an angel waiting outside of Jesus’s tomb that intrigue me with their foreignness. When I initially stepped into Old First, I prepared myself for feeling very much the outsider, expecting the crosses and varied representations of Jesus so common under the Gothic arches of many an art tour. However, as the Hebrew chanting of Genesis rose to the rafters, I was unable to find a single cross or depiction of Jesus in the building.

I have long been fascinated by the conflict in religion between visually representing one’s faith and the Old Testament resistance to idolatry. In Judaism, explicit depictions of God are forbidden, and as a result Jewish art has an extensive history in abstraction. Only a few years ago did I come to realize how many of the original figures of the abstract expressionist art movement were Jews (Kandinsky, Rothko, etc.), and swiftly the bold, revolutionary swaths of color that forever changed the landscape of American art, took on a more traditional context, a legacy of Biblical proportions. Of course, this relationship is equally effective in the reverse, where the brightly decorative tiles of the Sofia Synagogue turn edgy, the ambiguous stained glass on the Lower East Side, modern.


My grandfather fervently encourages me to doubt everything; he swears that this is the ultimate life philosophy, that our questions keep us engaged and open-minded, that to be absolutely sure is to deny the multitude of truths that have yet to reveal themselves to us. He finds inspiration for his doubt in the Talmud, the text that accompanies the Torah with lively debates from opinionated rabbis of yore. I find inspiration for my doubt in quantum mechanics and villanelles. The dialogue between past and present is ever active. I see traditionalism and modernism less so opposing ends on a spectrum, so much as complementary voices in the great discussion. It would be all too easy for me to dismiss the prayers of my ancestors as antiquated and irrelevant, and so I embrace the fluidity of truth, time, and inescapably, art. – Michelle (mtraub), Etsy

 In my first year, I came across a brilliant book by H. Patrick Glenn, titled ‘Legal Traditions of the World’, which I really enjoyed reading hours on end, even considered exploring the subject of talmudic law further. Parts of the chapters were utilized for our comparative law course at UCL (one of the best courses I have ever taken and enjoyed, looking back) and the different traditions were elaborately and meticulously covered. I wish I could give more elaboration on the book, but four years ahead, I would simply not be doing it justice.

Peter Norman has done a summary of the book:

In 2000, H. Patrick Glenn, the Peter M. Laing Professor of Law at McGill University, published his ambitious bid to become the doyen of introductory comparative law courses. Legal Traditions of the World: A Sustainable Diversity of Law received the Grand Prize of the International Academy of Comparative Law and was favorably reviewed in a number of European and Asian law journals. Although the book received comparatively little critical attention in American law reviews,i it has been used frequently in comparative law courses in United States law schools. The second edition of Legal Traditions of the World, released in 2004 without the “Sustainable Diversity” subtitle, promises to fortify Glenn’s place in the canon of comparative law textbooks. Like the first edition, it contains ten chapters: three “theoretical” chapters discuss Glenn’s concept of tradition and seven “substantive” chapters describe the chthonic, Talmudic, civil law, Islamic, common law, Hindu, and Asian legal traditions. “Chthonic” law here refers to primarily oral legal traditions, including those found in Africa, parts of Latin American, and the South Pacific. The chapter on the “Asian” tradition covers mostly Chinese schools of Confucian and Legalist thought, with some discussion of Buddhist, Taoist, and Japanese legal traditions.

See more: http://www.globallawbooks.org/reviews/getFile.asp?id=246

The book actually reminds me of something a close friend, JC, would enjoy. It is something in his line of interest, I should think.


2 responses to “Abstract Expressionism From the Pews of the High Holy Days;

  • Vox Pop

    I remember Glenn. Continental European legal systems vs. Common Law – sigh – interesting wasn’t it? I wonder what the ‘theoretical’ chapters are about.

    • unefilleelegante

      Why are you Vox pop?!!

      Which theoretical chapters? But I remember the chthonic one was pretty cool too…but the whole book was very good…I wish I could write like that.

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