Borderless Space, Radical Belonging

“Any minute now the world streams over its border” (Ot-ot gist zikh shoyn iber di velt bizn rand). So writes Soviet Yiddish poet Peretz Markish, a single resonant line among the hundreds in his eighty-page poem The Man of Forty (Der fertsikyeriker man), which his wife smuggled out of Stalinist Russia in a potato sack in 1949. Had she not done so it would surely have been seized by Stalin’s agents, who were moments from arresting the dissident poet when she departed.

Secundus the Silent and the Vanishing Seduction of Beruriah

Secundus the Silent was a first-century Greek philosopher who in order to prove his assertion that women were incapable of chastity, undertook successfully to seduce his own mother. Though he revealed his identity to her while the two were in bed together—before consummating the affair—her willingness, and resultant shame, led her to hang herself. Though Secundus’s point was carried, his growing sense of the dishonor of his action and its fallout led him to take a vow of silence about the event; thus his epithet.

Vacationing in Nazi Germany

When set in cool water and heated only gradually, the frog—in a resonant metaphor—allows itself to be cooked without struggle. From the comfortable remove of history, foregone teloi in mind, we may shake our heads at the unthinkable complacency. It has often been through such a metaphor that we have gazed at certain apparently blindered aspects of Jewish bourgeois life in 1930s Germany.