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4. Yiddish Ethnographic Poetics and Moyshe Kulbak’s “Vilne” / Jordan Finkin

Edited by Andreas Kilcher and Gabriella Indiana University Press ePub


At the conclusion of one of the poet Moyshe Kulbak’s (1896–1937) few essays, “The Yiddish Word” (1918), having sketched out what Yiddish literature has achieved in prose, Kulbak turns to what is still to be achieved in poetry. “The Yiddish word was synthesized by the finest spirits of the people, and it carries with it the musical rhythm of singing Jewish souls. If our language still has something to conquer, it will achieve more through its flowers than through its publicistic paper swords.”1 Here as elsewhere Kulbak regards folksong as the beating heart of cultural creativity. In ethnographically resonant language he notes how Yiddish folksong “breathes with the primitive refinement of folk creativity.”2 It is not by chance that he regularly returns to the well of folklore and folksong in his efforts to be precisely that conqueror of the final frontier of Yiddish literary art.

In a letter some six years later, Kulbak makes a tantalizing off-hand mission statement: “I cannot express myself fully except in short or longer poems, and therefore I want to devise such a form which can in a large space, with the help of various shapes, express not an epic world-concept but a pure lyric poetry.”3 Kulbak’s ambitious desire to create a new form for Yiddish poetry that can both encompass his personal aesthetic aims and fulfill his duty to folk creativity sets as one of the hinges between the two a deep reflection on Jewish ethnography. In what follows I outline a model of Jewish ethnographic engagement as it appears in the work of those committed to Yiddish cultural creativity in the early twentieth century, and then I show how Kulbak’s work and his dual engagement, nearly unrivaled in Yiddish literature for its sensitivity if not its lyricism, allows us a glimpse at the intersection of poetry and ethnography, their mutual influences, and how they were understood by the cultural activists committed to both. To do this, I focus on a reading of his poem “Vilne,” stressing its reliance not only on modes of contemporary Jewish autoethnography but also on an understanding of ethnography rooted more in authenticity than authority. That is, whether an ethnography or an ethnographic poem, if it is based in authenticity then it relies on the data themselves rather than extrinsic warrants (especially authority) to provide legitimacy. The literature and poetry that attuned themselves to the specific shifts in conceptual emphases of Jewish ethnography, as in the case of Moyshe Kulbak, offer remarkable insights into Jewish self-understanding.

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Dante’s Inferno, Canto IV

Dante Alighieri Indiana University Press ePub

Dante’s Inferno, Canto IV


It is tempting in a lectura Dantis to claim for the canto one is explicating a special status: the key to the whole poem. This is understandable from a psychological point of view, but the phenomenon also has a textual basis. The allusive quality of the Comedy’s literal narrative is such that it is possible to develop an elaborate intratextual discourse starting from virtually any point. Obviously, this is not the place to discuss the poem’s distinctive textual characteristics. That is another story, and a long one at that. Perhaps Contini treats the subject best, albeit obliquely, when he speaks of the Comedy’s “altra polisemia,” and I refer you to him.1

For our purposes, it is sufficient to say that there are essentially two kinds of cantos, which we may label, rather inelegantly, as “local” and “structurally determining.” A “local” canto is one whose meaning is largely, if not completely, exhausted within its immediate context. On the other hand, a “structurally determining” canto is one whose meaning extends far beyond its immediate or “local” context. It is a constant point of reference and continues to determine meaning throughout the poem. Inferno IV is such a canto.

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Chapter Fourteen

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Terra’s occasional rampages put the newscasters in a quandary. Reports of earthquakes and volcanoes and pestilence in the wilds made life within the Enclosure seem all the more desirable. But if the wilds actually broke through the skin of the human system? And if Terra, on one of these violent sprees, actually killed a few people, swallowed an Arctic research team down a sudden throat of ice, or drowned a repair crew in the ocean outside Oregon City? That sort of news would be disquieting. The trick was to remind people of Terra’s brutality without making them brood too much about the Enclosure’s fragility.

So the first half meter of newsfax unscrolling on Zuni’s desk brought her word of the typhoon, without mentioning damage or casualties, FREAK STORM LASHES OREGON CITY, the headline proclaimed, DOME UNHARMED. At least my architecture is sound, she reflected wryly. How had the travel-tubes fared? No mention of that in the lead story. Curious, she skimmed over the week’s fashion news, skimmed rhetoric tournament results and summaries of World Council debates, skimmed the daily geometries and mating announcements, until she found, eight meters from the beginning of the scroll, a brief notice of damage to the Oregon-Alaska seatube. Typhoon generates high waves, the article stated. Seatube cracks—vacuum partially destroyed—commuter traffic disrupted—protective systems activated—wildergoers quickly repair damage.

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World War II

Edited and with an Introduction by Owen Indiana University Press ePub

Machine-gunner Pyle goes riding in a five-ton tank

INDIANAPOLIS—Time was heavy on my hands today, so I appointed myself a corporal in the Panzer division and went out and rode around the country in a tank.

I sat in the machine-gunner’s seat, and mowed down trees and weeds and fence posts, and also killed a man on a dirt scraper driving two mules. His last words were, “Hey, what’s comin’ off here?”

The tank I rode in was a five-ton baby one, out at the Marmon Herrington Co. The ride lasted about half an hour, and was really only a small part of my afternoon’s education.

For Marmon-Herrington is deep in expansion for defense orders, as are most concerns of their type, and what they are doing was thrilling to me. But I’ll tell the rest tomorrow.

My little tank was built for two men, and was painted brown. You climb over the caterpillar tread mechanism, and step down into it from the top, like stepping into a box. Then you pull the steel roof down over you and lock it. And there you are, for better or worse.

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6 From Misemono to Zigomar: A Discursive History of Early Japanese Cinema

Jennifer M Bean Indiana University Press ePub

Aaron Gerow

IT IS ONE of the bitter tragedies of studying early Japanese film history that only a handful of films before the mid-1920s exist; there are simply not enough extant works to do justice to a history of Japanese film style before 1925. It is thus partly out of necessity that I construct in this chapter a discursive history of early cinema in Japan rather than analyzing many of the filmic texts themselves. But it is also a matter of choice. Remember that Michel Foucault, in The Archaeology of Knowledge, argues: “What, in short, we wish to do is dispense with ‘things’ … to substitute for the enigmatic treasure of ‘things’ anterior to discourse, the regular formation of objects that emerge only in discourse. To define these objects without reference to the ground, the foundation of things, but by relating them to the body of rules that enable them to form as objects of a discourse and thus constitute the conditions of their historical appearance.”1 Certainly Foucault does not intend a writing of a history without texts, but in a perhaps ironic way his form of discursive history allows us to still talk about early Japanese film history even though many of the “things,” the motion pictures themselves, are not present for us to examine and analyze. Maybe it is better this way: until now, it has been the privileging of such works that has led most scholars of later Japanese film history to focus only on the texts and authors, at the expense of understanding either the ways in which they first appear “only in discourse” or the conditions in which they emerged as the objects of people’s understanding. That has also led to the downplaying of research on periods like that of early cinema, where there are few films. While certainly not a desirable situation, perhaps the absence of films from the 1910s and early 1920s permits us to pay more attention to the discursive basis on which they would have been created, watched, understood, and discussed.

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49. Keppler

Charles S. Peirce Indiana University Press PDF



Winter 1892

Houghton Library

Johann Keppler it was who discovered the form of the planets’ paths in coursing round the sun and the law of their varying speed. This achievement, by far the most triumphant unravelment of facts ever performed,—cunninger than any deciphering of hieroglyphics or of cuneiform inscriptions—occupied its author’s whole time from October

1600 to October 1604, and the greater part of four years more. That fairylike town Prague was the scene of these studies and there in April

1609 was published the immortal Commentaries on the Motions of the

Star Mars. To gain any idea of a scientific research, one must look with one’s own eyes and brain at the things with which it deals. Now the year

1892 happens to be a good one for watching Mars, and if the reader will from his own naked-eye observations set down upon a star-map (say upon the figures in the Century Dictionary) the course of the planet from the third week in March to the end of the year, as it traverses the constellations Sagittarius, Capricornus, and Aquarius, the true greatness of Keppler will begin to dawn upon him. For the telescope was only invented in the very year in which Keppler’s book was published; so that he had before him only naked-eye observations, and saw only what anybody may see.

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Book Twelve

Ovid Indiana University Press ePub


The Invasion of Troy

But Priam mourned for Aesacus, not knowing

He lived, a wingèd creature. To the tomb

That bore his name Hector brought sacrifice,

So did the other brothers. all but Paris,

Who, not long after, brought upon his country

Long warfare over the woman he had stolen.

A thousand ships were launched, and all the Greeks,

Banded together, followed, and they would have

Taken their vengeance sooner, but the storms

Made the sea pathless, and Boeotia held them,

Impatient, at the little port of Aulis.

When here, as always, they had gotten ready

Their sacrifice for Jove, just as the altar

Glowed with the lighted fires, they saw a serpent,

Blue-green in color, creeping up a plane-tree

Above them, toward a nest, high up, which held

Eight fledglings. These, together with the mother,

Flying too close to her doomed brood, the serpent

Seized and devoured. Amazement seized the people,

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38. [Morality and Church Creed]

Charles S. Peirce Indiana University Press PDF


[Morality and Church Creed]

July 1891

Houghton Library

To the Editor of the Nation


Permit me to say something by way of reply to your editorial entitled: “A plain moral question.” This title attached to a discussion of a point of conduct wherein serious men differ is, I need not say, highly offensive. You are right in so insulting those who have reached a conclusion contrary to your own, provided you can sustain your position that all sound moral sense is against those persons; otherwise you are making a wicked appeal to the odium theologicum.

Your proposition is that “a minister cannot honorably remain in the service of a church while repudiating leading articles of its creed.” But I think he generally must. I personally am a layman who have severed my visible connection with the Church, and so put my soul in jeopardy, because I cannot believe a certain article of faith in the sense in which it is commonly understood. Considering my special circumstances, I came to the conclusion that was my duty. But under most circumstances and especially for one ordained into the ministry, I am clear that the opposite course would be that of allegiance to God and His Church.

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25. The Law of Mind [Early Try]

Charles S. Peirce Indiana University Press PDF


The Law of Mind

[Early Try] early May 1892

Houghton Library

In two preceding articles,1 I have considered the ideas which ought to form the chief materials of cosmology, and in particular have argued against unlimited necessitarianism. I propose next to show, by the study of the soul, that, if my previous conclusions are accepted, we shall be naturally led to the belief that the universe is governed by a father, with whom we can be in real relations of communion, and who may be expected to listen to prayer, and answer it. In short, necessitarianism once out of the way, which puts nature under the rule of blind and inexorable law, that leaves no room for any other influence, we find no other serious objection to a return to the principle of Christianity. As this result, if confirmed, will be a matter of glad concern to every man, no doubt the reader will consent to do a little hard thinking to reach it.

The first step in this study must be to state in general terms how the mind acts. Now, the application of logical analysis to psychological law leads me to the conclusion that there is but one law of mind, namely that ideas tend to spread and to affect certain others which stand to them in a peculiar relation which I will name “continuous affectibility.”

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Chapter Four

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

On the beach at Whale’s Mouth Bay, amid boulders and sea gulls, Teeg lay roasting in the sun. Against her naked back and rump the sand felt like a thousand nibbling flames. Salt-laden wind fanned her hair. Even through the breathing-mask she could smell the ocean. Between repair missions, when she was required to stay inside the Enclosure, more than anything else she missed the feel of sun on her skin.

During this trip she quickly finished her assigned job—replacing fuel cells on a signal booster atop Diamond Mountain—and had three hours left over for scouting. Most of the time she used for discovering how hospitable a place the bay might be, testing for radiation, toxins, soil nutrients, the quality of water. These last few minutes of her allotted time she lay basking in the sun, as a celebration for having found the right place at last. She would have to make sure Whale’s Mouth had been omitted from the surveillance net. It probably had, since no tubes or laser channels or signal avenues passed anywhere near the place. Just another piece of real estate long since erased from human reckoning. She hoped so. Phoenix could tell her for sure. And she would need to spend a week here, later on, to run more tests on plants and microbes and air before she could assure the other seekers that this was indeed the place for the settlement.

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Medium 9780253006615

Introduction: Anne Frank, the Phenomenon

Edited by Barbara KirshenblattGimblett Indiana University Press ePub

The list is daunting. Dozens of musical compositions, ranging from oratorio to indie rock. A dramatization given hundreds of productions annually. Thousands of YouTube videos. A museum visited by millions. To these, add a growing number of works of fine art, biography, fiction, poetry, and dance, as well as films, radio and television broadcasts, and websites. Plus tributes in the form of commemorative coins, stamps, and other collectibles, memorial sites and organizations around the world, eponymous streets, schools, and institutions, to say nothing of a “day, a week, a rose, a tulip, countless trees, a whole forest, . . . and a village.”1 All inspired by a book that has been translated into scores of languages, published in hundreds of editions, printed in tens of millions of copies, and ranked as one of the most widely read books on the planet.

These wide-ranging engagements with Anne Frank’s life and work are a phenomenon of interest in its own right and exceptional in several ways. To begin with, few public figures have inspired connections that are as extensive and as diverse, ranging from veneration to sacrilege. The expression of these connections can be playfully creative or can conform to well-established convention, and they are often deeply personal at the same time that they validate their subject’s iconic stature. Among the handful of people who have inspired this extraordinary kind of engagement—Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Albert Einstein, Elvis Presley—Anne Frank never participated, even indirectly, in her renown. The widespread interest in her rests largely on a single effort—her wartime diary—which no one else had read and few even knew existed during her brief life.

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6 Love: Bondage and the Conundrum of Erotic Love

Catherine M. Roach Indiana University Press ePub

This chapter springs from a question mark.

In April 2009, Princeton University hosted an academic conference on romance fiction and American culture entitled Love as the Practice of Freedom? The gathering’s interrogative title is a quotation from literary and feminist theorist bell hooks. Conference organizers adopted hooks’s key notion of “love as the practice of freedom” to serve as an interpretive framework for thinking about romance fiction in American culture. In order to indicate the open-ended, analytical nature of the conference’s project, they appended to hooks’s phrase a question mark.1

In this chapter I consider the meaning of this question mark. We’ve arrived at a key question, one that lies at the very heart of this book: What exactly is the nature of love depicted in the romance narrative that plays such a central storytelling role in the culture? This narrative insists that love is a good thing, a practice of freedom, as hooks suggests. But, clearly, we love badly as well, to our disadvantage, our loss, our heartbreak, sometimes tragically to our death. Blinded and besotted, we waste our love, throwing it away on unworthy partners. All this is love, too.

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8 Literary Afterlives of Anne Frank

Edited by Barbara KirshenblattGimblett Indiana University Press ePub

Sara R. Horowitz

As a book in which the act of writing figures so centrally and self-consciously, Anne Frank’s widely read diary has, not surprisingly, engendered an especially rich array of literary responses. These include the literary efforts of inspired teenagers as well as poems and prose fiction by accomplished adult authors and extend to other works—exhibitions, films—in which Frank’s writing and the act of reading it become subjects of interest in themselves. As she is known as a chronicler and a symbol of something beyond her own life and historical moment, the literary figuring of Anne Frank and her diary gives a sense of the ways in which her life and writing have been engaged and given meaning. Her diary provides a model for later journaling under oppressive regimes or difficult economic, social, and personal circumstances. The matters that Frank mulls as she waits out the war—issues of divine and human nature, meaningfulness, identity, sexuality—as well as the unknowingness of the diary, and the imponderability of her fate—take on new dimensions in the hands of later novelists and filmmakers. Reaching across time and continents and in a range of languages, the reimagined Anne is understood as speaking not only to such things as anti-Semitism, human nature, and good and evil, but also to contemporary Jewish identity, fascism, sexuality, psychic pain, abuse, and resistance.

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45. The Non-Euclidean Geometry

Charles S. Peirce Indiana University Press PDF


The Non-Euclidean Geometry

11 February 1892

The Nation

Geometrical Researches on the Theory of Parallels. By

Nicholaus Lobatchewsky. Translated from the original by

George Bruce Halsted, A.M., Ph.D., ex-Fellow of Princeton

College and Johns Hopkins University, Professor of Mathematics in the University of Texas. Austin: University of Texas. 1891.

Lobachevski’s little book, Geometrische Untersuchungen, marks an epoch in the history of thought, that of the overthrow of the axioms of geometry. The philosophical consequences of this are undoubtedly momentous, and there are thinkers who hold that it must lead to a new conception of nature, less mechanical than that which has guided the steps of science since Newton’s discovery. The book has been published many years,—in fact, the essence of it was set forth before 1830; so long does it take a pure idea to make its way, unbacked by any interest more aggressive than the love of truth. In this case, the idea is lucid, easy, and convincing. Nobody with enough mathematical capacity to be able to understand the first book of geometry need fear the least difficulty in mastering Lobachevski’s tract; and really it is high time that every thinking man and woman should know what is in it.

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6 “When Your Darun Speaks to You”: Ethics of Revelation and Concealment in Lyric Poetry

Zuzanna Olszewska Indiana University Press ePub

Ethics of Revelation and Concealment in Lyric Poetry

In midwinter in early 2006, I attended a Friday poetry session at Dorr-e Dari with Zeinab, one of the granddaughters of my host family, who was beginning to take an interest in poetry. We were sitting in the second-last row, so I couldn’t see the poets who were reading very clearly, but I had a good overview of the room. One of the young women who wrote more daring poetry had put in a rare appearance at the session. She wore colorful, distinctive clothing and a lot of makeup, including dramatic sweeps of black eyeliner. Her poems were equally forthright, dealing with women’s sexuality and the problems attached to it. On this occasion, she read her poem before the audience: it was long and in blank verse, and I couldn’t follow all of it, as I was still having problems catching all the intricacies of poetic language.

But I noticed that the reactions of the people around me were increasingly agitated. Some of the women in the back row behind me were whispering among themselves and muttering muffled curses. Suddenly one of them got up, pressed past the others in her row, and hurriedly left the room, having to walk through most of the audience and pass demonstrably close to the speaker to reach the door. One by one, a handful of other people also got up and walked out. The poet’s eyes flicked to the door, but she retained her composure and read to the end of her poem. Twelve-year-old Zeinab watched the scene wide-eyed, thoroughly enjoying herself, and later recounted it gleefully for her aunts back home. The poem ended and there was a scattering of applause. I had not understood much of the poem, except for a fragment that went something like, “And God and his girlfriend Madonna sat eating pizza at the breakfast table.” I tried later to get a copy of this poem, but the poet was reluctant, and I unfortunately had not recorded the session.

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