Tuesday, January 4, 2011

All the Other Israels

screen shot from www.goisrael.com
If there was more that I could do to prepare for this trip to Israel, it actually wouldn't be to read more history or art history or archaeology - it would be to read novels, watch television shows, see movies.  It would be to think more through what I realize I've categorized in my head as "All the Other Israels" - the contemporary, the natural, the entertaining, the musical.  This screen shot from a site sponsored in part by the Israel Ministry of Tourism gets at the kaleidescopic picture I know nothing about.  I don't know what will surprise me more: the history or the contemporaneity.  It will be stunning to be at Masada and Acre and Caesarea. It will be equally stunning to see ads, fashion, hipness: those things which mark not just modernity (which I won't be surprised to see there of course), but the pace and the flow and the general disregard for history of modernity.  That, I think, will surprise me: the co-existence of the two.

The Jerusalem of 135 (final expulsion of the Jews by Hadrian), or 614 (arrival of the Persians), or 1099 (arrival of the Crusaders), or 1187 (departure of the Crusaders), or 1516 (arrival of the Ottomans), or 1917 (the arrival of Allenby), and the spaces and stories thereof, will seem more familiar to me than anything contemporary that I will see.   How can that be? It can only be true in an imagined sense - it's the familiarity of thought, nothing more.  So I think with wonder about my dear student Shani who is living in Tel Aviv and has just joined an ensemble that sings only in Hebrew and which has asked her to sing "La Vie en Rose" ("HaChaim BeVarod") for an upcoming concert. Won't take be great?

Also: there is humor. Now for this to appear funny, it will help to know about "Angry Birds," the 99cent iPhone game out of Finland which has been purchased over 30 million times, and which is being played by millions of people as I write this.  The plot line is simple: the pigs have the birds' eggs and the birds want their eggs back damnit.  And who knew that therein lay an Israeli-Palestinian peace process parody?

So you see, I know nothing about where I'm going. But I can't wait to get there.

1 comment:

  1. Bon voyage, my friend. I can't wait to hear about it all - the ancient, medieval, and modern. And yet, while you are gone off to experience all the amazing things, know that you will be missed here at home.
    It was wonderful to break bread with you today. It's a beginning to the respite we need and crave.