Israel Is Where It’s At (For now)

Activity Being Avoided: writing curriculum
Music In My Head: Toy Boy by Mika (No comments on my musical taste, please.  I have no control over what gets in my head.)
Tea Being Drunk: wild berry
Books Being Read: Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut (a book I’ve always meant to read and am now having to because a student is reading it for school)

So, I always have to have a thing to keep me going: something new and edgy and passionate that I can think about when life gets dull.  (Of course, what I define as “new and edgy” may not seem quite so new and edgy to most people.  You’ll have to try to see if from my perspective.  Good luck.)  When I was 20, it was modern Canadian literature; when I was 30, it was alternative education; now in my 40’s, it’s mostly writing but arts in general.  These little bursts of excitement eventually get assimilated into the Sheila essence, and then I have to find something else to rock my little mind.

Right now, Israel is rocking me.

There has always been a certain appeal to Israel.  It has all the things that I love: religion, history, politics, conflict (which I like for its effect on art, not because I enjoy watching people make each other bleed).  The languages are beautiful, and the landscape is the complete opposite of Ontario.  These things all make for excellent contemplation.

I fell over Israel by accident — as I tend to do with most of the interesting things in life.  My daughter’s Grade 12 Writers’ Craft teacher introduced me to Etgar Keret by way of The Nimrod Flipout.  Delicious.  So I had to hunt down anything I could find in English.  While surfing the internet for his stories, I then discovered Haim Tabakman: Eyes Wide Open is very good, but Raptures of Daily Existence made me feel so freaking irritated that it inspired a story.  (Shall let you know when it’s finished.)  Then the last issue of Canadian Art had an announcement for an Adi Nes exhibit that’s coming up in May.

I don’t think I can yet explain what it is about these artists that appeals to me so much: the juxtaposition of the old and the new?  the fusion of the old and the new?  the edge they put on everyday things like dinner and Bible stories?

The more I “research” (we can use that term very loosely — perhaps “immerse myself in” or “play around in” would be more appropriate) modern Israeli arts, the more I like.  And the happier I get.  And the less paid work I get accomplished because time just zips by when you have to write something down before you forget it.  But that’s the way life goes, ’cause there’s no way to survive the banalities of the day unless you have something to bribe yourself with.

And I choose to bribe myself with one of the oldest cultures in existence.  I’m okay with being a little slow on the uptake.

2 responses to “Israel Is Where It’s At (For now)

  1. Israel is freaking awesome.

    The second time I went, I was on a tour and we all loaded on the bus the first morning and the bus started driving down the road when the tour guide got the bus driver to stop. He then got off the bus, yanked up a weed growing there and brought it back. Then he explained that it was a particular herb mentioned in the bible. He said, “The bible is alive here. It is literally everywhere.”

    The last time I went, the same tour guide stopped us on the side of the road and took us down to chalkstone caves where stone utensils were cut for the priests in the Temple. Just there, at the side of the highway. The immediacy and accessibility of history there is mind-blowing.

    There is still a lot of the world I have on my list of places I must see, but I keep going back to Israel because there’s still so much left to do there.

    I’d love to take you with me some day.


  2. I’d love to go with you some day. But I suspect you’d be out in the country looking for history, and I’d be sitting around the museums and going to readings. Damn. That means I’m going to have to suck it up and learn to read Hebrew.


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