Archaic Stone Modern Eruv

neolithic2 eruv-article-021115 aravah neolothic

I like these photographs of neolithic cult stones from the Aravah desert in Israel, about which you can read more here. They are both abstract and sexual at the same time, aniconic and iconic at once. Of interest to me has to do with what there is visually and functionally to distinguish these archaic forms from the form of an eruv (or rather the segment of an eruv) offered in this photograph. The simple line cutting across space, not readily recognizable as a “religious object,” the contemporary eruv looks like abstract art. To be sure, they “mean” different things. Yet, they are both abstract in appearance and space marking in function. How then is the photograph of the eruv any less sculptural than the Aravah neolithics? The only signal difference would be that the stone forms are intended as animate figures, and that they create the space surrounding them, whereas the eruv acts like a container, making space inside the animation made possible inside its ambit. The upshot I’d draw is that, spatially, there is no religion “outside” a physical marker or sets of physical markers.

 

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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