06 October 2010

150 (31-33)

31.  Refuge as shame protection.  A place to hide from oneself.  The psychological cover of night.  I wonder about those who choose religion without psychology.  Who choose to know God or serve God without fully examining their own motivations for doing so.  My grandma  used to say that if you ask too many questions, you unravel the onion.  And while I got the analogy, I used to say back to her, "Yeah, Grandma.  But who cooks with a whole onion?"

So many of David's psalms are about his anguish, the fear and dread he experiences of varieties of men or nations which persecute him and his leadership.  But what of the ephemeral demons of persecution?  The horrible, "deep dark dread" that his forefather Abraham felt when he made the Covenant Between the Pieces in Genesis 15.  There the clouds gather but no one sees them, except he who knows the fear and travail in the bowels of his existence.  To say, "Bring me forth out of the net that *they* have hidden for me; for Thou art my stronghold" is to recognize that our spiritual and psychological essence has been made for us by others; and we spend our lives attempting to understand who we are, where we come from, who made us and why, if such singular determinations can ever be made. 

I read these words as so much whistling in the dark, as expressions of a fear of the abyss, of that quintessential aloneness one knows when the onion gets peeled.

"Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all ye that wait for the Eternal."


32.  "What's wrong?"  Nothing.  "Seriously, what's wrong?"  Nothing.  "Come on, I can tell, something's wrong.  Just tell me what it is."  Nothing! Okay?!

Not okay.  "When I kept silence, my bones wore away through my groaning all the day long."

Get it off your chest.  Talk, Jew.  Primo Levi once opened a book with this quote from a Yiddish proverb:  "Troubles overcome are good to tell."

That's what this psalm is about.  It's the light of dawn, spoken into being, after a cold, dark night of shame.

"Be ye not as the horse or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, that they come not near unto thee."

33.  The accumulation of music and the instrumentation, thereof!  The opening words, a perfect rhythm to the ear.  It captures the balance and equilibrium of great music, collectively rendered and collectively heard.  It posits transcendence.  In 1990 I was at a Mekons show in Boston.  The club was packed and the band was playing songs from their classic record, "Rock and Roll," skewering the commercialism of the music industry.  It was very hot and everyone was together.   Unlike a crowded subway, where the tightness is only alleviated by individuals peeling off to their own individual destinations, this night, in Boston with the Mekons, we were all going to the same place.  "I have been to heaven and back."  Anyway, one shmoe up front punched someone, I guess, because he didn't like all the jostling close to the stage.  But it pierced the inherent unity of the scene.  Jon Langford immediately took the band off the stage and two bouncers came and escorted the offending party to the door until he could calm himself down.  Mitch, the Mekons' roadie then took the microphone and shouted in London's thickest accent, "The Mekons are not going to play if people are going to hih eachovver!!"  Everyone looked at each other:  One, because it just sounded so damn funny the way he said it; and two, because we all agreed.  "No one's going to hit each other!" someone shouted and the band came back on stage and finished a great show.

"For the word of the Eternal is upright; and all his work is done in faithfulness."  Great musical experiences rely upon the collective.

1 comment:

stax920 said...

A rabbi that name checks the Mekons. Where have you been all my life?!?! Nice post. Thank you.