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essays

war stories

We were holding kabbalah study group tonight at Beit Malkhut, and I don’t know how it came up. But you know how study groups go — one topic leads to another. We started with the Kaddish — the Mourner’s Prayer — since all of us had something to mourn, and it was time to explore […]

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essays

mandelbrot and music: on listening in fractal dimensions

Benoit Mandelbrot died this month. He was the guy who came up with fractal theory, which led to all those gorgeous computer graphics like this one: Last week, my friend and contradance bandmate Tina Fields wrote an essay about Mandelbrot’s ideas on her blog, Indigenize! I found it quite thought-provoking, and it surprised me how much I […]

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essays tzaddik stories

yahrtzeit for the tzaddik

Do I still get to cry? The first year ends, and I’ve been living the dying over and over. Actually, it all started two years ago with her. And I just couldn’t get over it, and then, wham — the tzaddik is ill, the tzaddik is terminal, the tzaddik is gone. I think it’s time […]

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essays

misunderstanding pessimism: a manifesto of sorts

The NYT has run a number of articles lately on optimism and pessimism, including one entitled, “Is your Dog an Optimist or a Pessimist.” Which was an incredibly depressing article. Another, which ran today (but disappeared before I could find it again) spent a lot of time explaining why optimists live longer. Go figure. Actually, […]

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essays

missing her as I do — new orleans revisited

Maybe I don’t have any right to miss her as I do. Maybe the missing is reserved for what people conventionally call ‘family.’ For kin related by blood or marriage. And I am neither. She is ‘family’ in that other sense. The sense of what we call family. My home was her home. Her home […]

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essays

zipping through the life cycle — a sufi parable

Nothing like your firstborn’s wedding to put the reality principle front and center, life cycle-wise. Ten seconds ago I was giving birth. Ten seconds from now I’ll be under a pile of dirt, or small particles blowing in the wind. Pop! We appear. Poof! We’re gone. This, says Tylor (that would be Sir Edward) is […]