Beware When all Men Speak Well of You…

You have no enemies, you say? Alas, my friend, the boast is poor. He who has mingled in the fray of duty that the brave endure, must have made foes. If you have none, small is the work that you have done. You’ve hit no traitor on the hip. You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip. You’ve never turned the wrong to right. You’ve been a coward in the fight.

Charles Mackay

On Earth Not in Heaven…

Of all the passages in the New Testament I think the one to which I feel the most aversion is Hebrews 12:18-24. This kind of supercessionist dualism, viewing Sinai and Mt Zion as merely “earthly” rather than heavenly, is such a fundamental error that misdirects our attention from the here and now in its fantastical desire for the transcendent and the so-called “heavenly”:

Hebrews 12:18   For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.

In contrast the passage I love the most, ironically comes from two Greek poets, quoted by Paul:

Acts 17:26 And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth . . . 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, 28 for “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.”

You Can Watch the First Episode of the Series “Enslaved” Streaming Live NOW–Today Only

You all have perhaps read or heard about the new series on Epix, “Enslaved,” produced by Samuel L. Jackson and three-time Emmy award winner Simcha Jacobovici.  It is a six part series, airing in the US beginning today/Monday, but you can watch it free TODAY Monday and next week, the first two episodes, without an Epix subscription.

Here is the link, including the trailer, it is live streaming NOW:
Here is a BBC link worth watching either before or after:

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More at #EnslavedEPIX on FB, Twitter, and Instagram

I just got this note from the director:

Over 400 years, over 12 million Africans were trafficked to the New World. More than 2 million died en route. We decided to tell the story by diving sunken slave ships and using that quest as a springboard for exploring the ideology, politics and economics of the slave trade. We also tell the stories of resistance, the cultures left behind and the “New World” cultures that – in large part – were born in the bowels of those slave ships.
It’s been three years of nonstop research, diving and filmmaking. My fellow executive producer and on-camera personality is none other than human rights activist and Hollywood icon Samuel L. Jackson! Journalist superstar Afua Hirsch is also on camera along with yours truly. Given recent events, the series can’t be coming out at a more relevant time. I hope that it becomes part of the dialogue, the education and the healing. As a child of Holocaust survivors, I have to believe that the only way to avoid future suffering is by educating ourselves on past suffering.
Epix will be airing one episode per week for the next 6 weeks. In Canada, the CBC Documentary Channel and the CBC main channel will be airing the series starting October 17th and 18th. BBC2 will also be airing the series in mid-October.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things…

No, that’s a film title, and it is not about suicide but ending a boy-girl thing. Maybe. I am not sure. Maybe it is about ending the Ending. We watched it this weekend on Netflix. Anything Charlie Kaufman does I will watch. This one will have you head scratching for over two hours but at moments it breaks through in a profound way–and the puzzling ending is to figure out. I mainly was pulled in by the the superb acting of Jessie Buckley as Lucy (who’s listed merely as “Young Woman” in the credits), Jesse Plemons, her boyfriend Jake, and  Toni Collette and David Thewlis, Jake’s parents. The whole thing is stunning. The first part of the film is a solid enough narrative for even me to follow, but it gets more and more bizarre. I usually don’t like films I feel I have no change of understanding, but would watch this one again, just for the lines and scenes. And there is a spoiler here in Vulture, but please, not until you have watched: “The Ending Explained.”

This clip is priceless. Jack and Lucy trying to drive back home in a snowstorm, after visiting the parents on a farm. I called it “The Lie of it All”

Everything I Do…

I miss you so much, I can’t stand it
Seems like my heart, is breaking in two
My head says no but my soul demands it
Everything I do, reminds me of you
I miss you so much, in this house full of shadows
While the rain keeps pouring down, my window too
When will the pain, recede to the darkness
From whence it has come, and I’m feeling so blue.


Laila “Tov” 2004-2020 Love, Companion, Friend, Shadow

I Can Hardly Believe it Has Been A Year: Remembering David S. Tabor

David and his brother Nathan standing with me in Vienna in front of Freud’s house at Bergasse 19. The marker on the street shows where a Jewish family once lived. They are all over Vienna.

I can hardly believe it has been a year. There is nothing I could say that would improve on what I wrote last year, a week after David’s death. I am posting it again here as I want alll of you to know what an extraordiary person he was and especially to enjoy his extraordinary art. Please click on the link:

My sister Betty just shared with me the last message she got from David, it was just a few days before he died, when he invited her to come be with us in Houston where he went for treatment. This message shows David’s sweet and innocent spirit:
“Hi Betty! Sure thing!.,we’d all much enjoy you visiting with us at that Houston house! Btw; I plan also to film us all there; talking in the living room. Think it’d be a very great film anyway. Priceless. We could share copies of that film,.I know Nate would really enjoy watching that film, in Spain. So definitely join us there. Should be a great visit!”

More Bits and Bites During the Summer of Covid

More from some of recent books and films…or heard on the street…

 I want death to find me planting my cabbages. Careless of death and still more my unfinished garden. Montaigne

Conventional wisdom is a disease again which a small percentage of humanity has been inoculated.

To be a fundamentalist, you have to have a book. And you have to forget the book has a history.

Nonsense is nonsense, but the study of nonsense–that’s scholarship!                        Gershom Scholem

And you are too slow. A good quality for a lover but a bad quality for a Horseman.     Queen Elizabeth 

On all the flesh that says yes; on the forehead of all of my friends; on every hand held out I write your name.

God Talk

We are all wayfaring ones, our birth, our circumstances, whether order or chaos, privilege or plague; very little is controllable in the grander scheme of things, at least from the vantage point of Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot. We carve out our tiny space, feel the “I” of it, but  it all blends together into centuries and millennia. We call it “history.” Such a strange concept. Microbe, elephant, flea, or sequoia, seem to somehow “harmonize” with wars and cruelty, chance and necessity. And then there is that amazing grace, not the song, but the “thing” of it–the Dasein.

The Universe/God began to “talk” to me in synchronicities: coincidences meaningful only to me and individually dismissible (to a skeptical outsider) as mere hokum, but too numerous and often too striking for me to dismiss.

Brenda Denzler

Nature and the Human

Nature notices neither the unspeakable sorrows and sufferings humans inflict on one another, nor the destruction and pain resulting from natural processes of cause and effect. “Chance and necessity, chance and necessity” chants Jacque Monod, with a cadence like the slow drumbeat of a cosmic mantra. “Atoms and the void, atoms, and the void,” echoes Lucretius from two millennia ago.  The flowers outside the gates of  Auschwitz burst forth a panoply of colors and the grass grows green and thick with the spring rains as rabbits and mice come forth to welcome the sun. And that nature itself, “red in tooth and claw” drums slowly on in ever unfolding evolutionary patterns, each entity oblivious to the whole, but ever acting within it. The same is true after an earthquake or volcanic disruption or astroid impact or a pandemic. We who have the gift of self-awareness and wonder and analytical observation bear the burden, shed the tears, cry out to the cosmos, and wonder as we move through life how and where our sense of “meaning” and “purpose” fits…or Not. Are we anomalies and flukes in a process otherwise dead to and unaware of anything that goes on—or is that very capacity we have to ask, somehow reflective of something we have yet to understand? Yes, Mr. Zimmerman, we are going down the Valley one-by-one, as only your 70 year-old voice can sing it. But is there a choice? I put myself deep into this painting done by my departed son David, I can actually stare at it and merge into it–a strange feeling. I want to open my eyes and look around and see that is beyond the archway ahead.

Walk through the Unknown by David S. Tabor

On Writing

Arthur Koestler once wrote that his attempt to write biography rose out of what he called the “Chronicler’s urge” and the Ecce Homo motive, both driven by a desire to transcend the self.  I think the same can be said for my own lifelong desire–since high school living in boarding school in France outside Paris–to write contemporary fiction–which is inevitably a form of veiled or not-so-veiled (think Woody Allen!) bio-fiction. However, I would add the Hemingway sense of “getting it right,” somehow capturing our common human hours and days in a way that brings the reaction–yes, that’s the way it was! That’s the way it is!

Tell the tale tale, tell the tall tale,
The idiot sputtered to the table
Yes, indeed, tell the tale tale,
That tall tale of life…