Monday, November 13, 2006

Core texts (having a favorite artist)

One of the best assignments of my final year in Rabbinical School was to come up with a presentation on my "core spiritual texts". That is, the texts that you return to time and time again in your life for meaning, when you're in pain or trouble or in a crisis of doubt.

What was liberating in the assignment was that we were _not_ required to use traditional Jewish texts. We weren't even required to use books.

While I started out my presentation with Heschel, the heart of it was me showing some clips from the final scenes of three movies that have great power for me. Other students played music or read poems that had meaning for them.

I realized today that I have been missing a "core text" in my life, musically, for the last couple of years. . . or, more specifically, I have been missing having a favorite musical artist . . . whose work I return to again and again. . . for comfort . . . for inspiration . . . for joy . . . to help me get centered.

Music has always been an important part of my life and identity, and phases of my life can be marked by who was my favorite artist at the time. But I really haven't had a favorite artist these past couple of years. . . . So, recently (unconsciously, that is), I have been spending some time reviewing some of my favorite artists of old -- especially the jazz-rock greats Steely Dan and Traffic. . . . I don't know what's coming next, but I miss being in love with an artist's work (as I was with the music of Juliana Hatfield for so long; I still like her stuff, but it just doesn't play that central place in my life anymore).

By the way, the full text of the written parts of my Rabbinical School presentation can be found here (apologies for the messed up formatting, but all the important text is readable). It includes the text of the final scenes from the three movies I mentioned . . . . (Which were Crimes and Misdemeanors, Terminator 2 and Fargo . . . . I think I also showed the opening credits for Working Girl.)

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