About

With this blog, I want to shape and project online an image of “place” for contemporary Jewish thought and philosophy. I hope to build up a thought-world that is place, body-, text-, object-, and picture-specific.

My basic working assumption: A blog-place represents an ideal platform for the formulation of a philosophical perspective on the basis of building blocks (little thought experiments) whose contents are personal and intentionally “shallow” (i.e. quick, ad hoc, serendipitous, and image-rich).

Image and Text

I am going to try to vary the relationship between picture and text. In some cases, I will write about a picture. The image will either be the subject of a text or the image will illustrate or decorate the text. In other cases, the intention is to “associate” an image and text, with no interest at all in any direct reference.

Jewish

Not every blog post will carry a “Jewish” content (i.e. Jewish ideas, texts, or pictures). So what makes this a “Jewish philosophy place”? I am much more interested in a form of Jewish thought and philosophy that creates/explores multiple overlaps between Jewish and non-Jewish zones of expression.

Theoretical Underpinnings

A (Jewish) critical aesthetics entails principle claims or positionings that are logically and axiologically co-prior. I will assume that:

[1] In religion, the experience of territory and time is always “rational” in its organization and re-organization insofar as active, open, and motile subjects rely upon and/or reject the application of competing concepts of the understanding (possibility, necessity, existence, non-existence, reality, negation, limit, subsistence, individuality, community, etc.) in relation to ideas of reason (“God,” “world,” “person,” “freedom”).

[2] The articulation and re-articulation of ideas and concepts are always “aesthetic” insofar as they shape and take shape in and across space and time, pleasure and pain.

[3] This experience and these articulations are not always moral, but they are “just,” “fair,” or “kind” when they do so in consonance with other persons and creatures.

[4] Classical Jewish source materials are places that open out into unique philosophical perspectives. Bible lends poetry to thought (mythic, epic, lyrical, dramatic, performative). Talmud presents the unfolding of theoretical possibilities across an acentric plane of material surfaces and the crossing of those surfaces by human subjects and material objects. Kabbalah lets imagination loose across multiple realms of wild Being, divine and demonic. Maimonidean rationalism works to circumscribe a place for the play of prophetic vision within a human order.

The less said today about God, the better. Not because this is a secular age, but because of the disgrace heaped upon the name by too many of those who adore it.

Currently, my philosophical lodestars are Leibniz, Mendelssohn, Kant, Nietzsche, Buber, Deleuze, and Baudrillard. Go figure.

I hope you like the blog.

4 Responses to About

  1. Mel Scult says:

    Zach:

    Just a note to say that it was good meeting at the conference. I am grateful for your reaction to
    my book and I look forward to being part of the philosophy discussion.

    • zjb says:

      it was great to meet the amazing Mel Scult, who’s going to change the face of American Jewish philosophy. the pleasure was mine.

  2. You’d enjoy my book “The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness” (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press)

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