It was in Kafka that Scholem discovered a kind of heretical, secular Kabbalah, a literature paradoxically at once canonical and nihilistic. With Max Brod and Walter Benjamin, Scholem saw in Kafka a deeply Jewish writer,…


For my teacher Marc H. Ellis who gave me apt advice when I nervously started started teaching in 1997: “Don’t worry about what the students give to you. Just give everything you’ve got to your…

What’s Missing

During the thousand years of her history Russia had seen many great things. During the Soviet period the country had seen global military victories, vast construction sites, whole new cities, dams across the Dnieper and…


For Dr. Erin Nealon, who introduced me to Jojo [Jonathan Richman] circa early 2000. Even right now as I write this, I’ve got That Summer Feeling… We still need more parties in the USA.

Today’s One-Liner (#8)

To have a scapegoat is to not realize you have a scapegoat. –René Girard, Maxim #58, in All Desire Is a Desire for Being: Essential Writings, edited by Cynthia L. Haven.

Today’s One-Liner (#6)

The face offers itself to your compassion and to your obligation.  –Emmanuel Levinas, in Jill Robbins, Is It Righteous to Be? Interviews with Emmanuel Levinas