Bird Box

Mar. 8th, 2012 01:53 pm
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On Purim I've fallen into a weird, time-sinking pattern of giving my Rosh Yeshivah and his wife increasingly useless and elaborate art presents. I have no idea what they do with all the crap. Anyway, here is a box I made today to put in their Purim-related food and drink present.

other angles and sides )
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Quite sick. My boss has been very understanding and encouraging me to stay home, and the result was doing another Daniel illustration, this time for the fourth chapter, in which Nevukhadnetzar either goes insane or turns into an animal, or both, depending (the lines between metaphor, dream, and reality are all so blurred in the book).

picture - same scanner problems as before (not the whole picture, blurred parts) )
cremains: (always rain)
Tonight while H. was busy sewing a sheep costume, I did a drawing of the eighth chapter of Daniel. H. has been at me awhile to do a comic version of the book and while I'm maybe too lazy for that, I'm not too lazy for a one-night drawing.

Daniel is a rich, sad book where images of physical loss and the protagonist's mutilated body grow increasingly outsize in terms of scale, elaborate, surreal. Here he dreams of the ram fighting with the flying goat.

The actual thing I produced is as wide as it is long, but the scanner is fairly narrow, so here is a slice. The paper was wobbly and that led to some blurring; hopefully I'll be able to get a better digital image of it sometime.

picture )

EDIT: full-picture (but low-quality) scan:

here )
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A friend of mine asked me to illustrate her memoir: she was raised Catholic until 13, converted to Judaism at 14 (custody battle), became a travelling singer, then a nun for many many years, and is now back to practicing Judaism and living here. What makes her writing unique is a fantastic and absolute lack of hindsight - she describes the same experience now as horrible, now as beautiful, now as neutral, and it's up to the reader to piece together not exactly the unreliability of the narrative, but rather its honesty.

Here is my first illustration, in which she gets an abortion, one of the events that led up to her becoming a nun.

picture )

In one of the most messed-up, powerful parts of the book, she likens the zygote in her womb being flooded with saline solution to her 14-year-old self in the mikvah. Here I drew her in her own womb, drowning, her uterus crowded with all the voices of condemnation that invaded her decision-making process and ended up crippling her with guilt.


Apr. 27th, 2011 09:38 pm
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In this dream my chavruta and I were trapped in an Eli Roth-style hostel. We were locked in a room with a broken door - just a corner was broken off. Looking at it, we noted to each other that it made just a big enough hole for someone to squeeze themselves through if they were truly crazed with the desire to kill. Just then, a crouching figure blocked off the light from the hallway and started slowly scraping through the jagged hole.

I'm drawing again.

Also, a second part turned out to the poem about R Eliezer (with undertones having to do with family and Northern Ireland). Here it is, with the already-finished part under the cut:

part one )

Part 2

oh, wind in the hair of the horse
of the new moon's messenger,
take me back to my family's house
where the Temple still crumbles
down their insensible cheeks
and patrol boots stamp their laughter hard

where they find my father, and drag him in,
where I lose my Torah, and stand mute at the door,
where youth means trouble, where I cannot know what happened,
where the air and knives are wet and cold -

or carry me away
to the kingdoms of the sea
I will swallow every well and wave
and drown tall ships inside of me.
cremains: (always rain)
siman: memory ox food wife temple

my memory is a painted tent
my ignorance the corpse beneath it.

how long have I hated you
for never teaching me
waking and eating and working, collapsing
I pulled the plough for miles in circles
until I broke the ox's leg and ran.

was the dirt I swallowed in Jerusalem
black like lepers' gums,
or like the night of immersion?
I thought, at least
I am in the holy city,
at least I can
plug myself up.
on the second day of eating earth I vomited.
the other students complained
and I won the pity of my teacher.
at his burial
I choked down tears, furious
that he never did adopt me.

my wife does not mind
my fear of nakedness.
she says:
when God broke you,
he made you
the right shape for me.

when the temple is rebuilt
I will bring the old childhood ox.
on that day his leg will be whole
his horns crimson
his heavy head golden
his hooves annointed
his chest swollen.
I will lay my hand on his head
so that his throat will be like mine.

pour me out
cut me into my pieces
eviscerate my ignorance
wash it in water
turn it to smoke

I wrap fresh dates for the priests
I clap my hands to my ears
when my brothers curse Jerusalem
I press coins in the hand of the convert
and tell him to buy two doves.
It will be soon, now, very soon.
cremains: (Default)
Down the streets I often see priests, monks, and nuns, some of them Armenians, but many of them are just visiting for a few years of study. What I wonder is, the Christians from Western countries who just show up for awhile, what do they make of Israel, and of being, theoretically anyway, under a government mostly made of Jews? When they walk in the Old City, do they feel guilty? If they don't, why don't they? If they do, does anything in their behaviour or theology change? Or really do they assume it's all theirs anyway, and any Jews are besides the point?

I made some new art.

Recently and reluctantly I've been introspective, mostly on why I am such a Talmud fundamentalist to the point of being a bit like the Society for Creative Anacronisms, egalitarian edition. Is it a psychological difficulty I have? Is it a harmless impulse for truth that manifests in ways that are, as someone put it recently, religiously prideful? (The two probably most annoying things are that it seems right to me to pronounce things during prayer as the gemara thinks they should be pronounced, and when I can get away with it - eg at home or studying in yeshiva - sometimes wearing tefillin outside of morning prayers)

It's funny how the Gra-obsessed segment of Chareidi society, which I work so hard to undermine*, has influenced me, even to the point of occasionally resetting what kind of behaviour I intuit as normal or abnormal (e.g. tefillin use).

*most importantly the misogyny being internalised by my stepkids
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Thinking today about a picture my middle stepkid drew... it depicts a "sofer cheresh" - a scribe unable to hear, in fact without ears. He is wading into the beach with a big smile, and with rather odd pants that tie his legs together with dozens of strings. I asked him why his legs were tied together, and he replied, "Because he likes it that way."

It's been almost a month since I've seen him and I miss him and his odd, slightly subversive way of thinking very much.

I wrote this about Herod Agrippas, remembering that not so long ago I read the part of the Torah he read as the king. According to the Mishnah, Agrippas cried from feelings of inadequacy when he did this, because he came from a family of bad/suspect Jewish lineage.

I read what you read
when you stood in front of them,

when your ribs unravelled
to your heart's suspicious eye,

your stomach bitter ink,
your shame the black cup,

your crown the blood gutter
where the unfaithful woman crouched,
or perhaps never crouched.


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this hill is far enough

February 2017



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