woensdag 28 maart 2018

Charles Reznikoff (1894 - 1976) joods-Amerikaans dichter - zijn gedicht over Spinoza toegelicht

Reznikoff is not the poet as hero,
he is a distinct member of a tribe of poets,
an American-Jewish member who has helped found and continue poetic traditions—
both Jewish and American.
[Robert Manaster*) ]

Zijn ouders waren voor de Russische pogroms van de 1880-iger jaren naar de VS gevlucht. Hij werd geboren in wat hij noemde het joodse getto van Brownsville, in Brooklyn, New York. In “Early History of a Writer,” beschrijft hij zijn jeugd en zijn ervaringen met jodenhaat. Hij gaf als dichter stem aan deze joodse ervaringen. Zijn bundels Testimony: The United States, 1885-1915 (1934-1979) en Holocaust (1975) zijn Reznikoff’s belangrijkste werken. [Van poetryfoundation]. Charles Reznikoff was advocaat en z'n hele leven inwoner van New York. Hij was een van de grondlegers van de artistieke beweging van het 'objectivisme' (dat niets te maken had met de gelijknamige politieke beweging van Ayn Rand).  
In Stephen Fredman, A Menorah for Athena: Charles Reznikoff and the Jewish Dilemmas of Objectivist Poetry [University of Chicago Press, 2001 – books.google], komt, zoals de titel al zegt het poëtische werk van Charles Reznikoff uitgebreid aan de orde en daarin blijkt Spinoza voor te komen, zoals ik in het blog van gisteren, waarin het gedicht "Jerusalem the Golden", al heb laten zien.
Ik citeer hieronder uit dit werk een interessante passage waarin Charles Reznikoff’s gedicht “Jerusalem the Golden”, waar dat over Spinoza een onderdeel van vormt, aan de orde komt en wordt toegelicht.
Maar eerst neem ik een kort stukje over uit de inleiding op zijn werk van de website "Of Things Exactly As They Are": American Poetry of the 1930s” dat een fraaie korte duiding geeft:  
Jewish history plays a significant role in Reznikoff's poetry of the 1930s. Jerusalem the Golden, published in 1934 evokes both that long history and the intimate details of modern, everyday life. The first half of the book is composed largely of short poems, often as short as two lines, though a number of these follow a common subject and build toward a thematic resolution. […]
The longer poems toward the end of the book continue this theme of the divine in the midst present. The title poem is composed of four brief sections, titled respectively "The Lion of Judah," "The Shield of David," and "Spinoza," and "Karl Marx". Taken as a whole they present a narrative of evolving conceptions of the divine in relation to the Jewish people. The progress of this is from retribution and war to righteousness to dispassion and finally to equity with Marx. There is a parallel transition here from king to prophet to philosopher to communal existence as the concept of God becomes increasingly remote, until the human assumes the mantle of the absent divinity under Marx, innately following the precept "From each according to his strength, / to each according to his need." From the perspective of 1934, Reznikoff's move in positioning a socialist communion as the culmination of a specifically Jewish, and specifically religous, history is both an ingenious rhetorical and poetic device and also a useful window into the political culture of that desperate time.  [cf.]

Nadat Stephen Fredman uitgebreid gebruik heeft gemaakt van Yirmiyahu Yovel’s uit twee delen bestaande SPINOZA AND OTHER HERETICS, begint hij met de volgende uiteenzetting over de ontwikkeling van het godsbegrip, waarna hij toewerkt naar Charles Reznikoff’s gedicht
De invloed van het immanentistisch denken op de Romantische poëzie.
The philosophical shift from a conception of God as wholly transcendent (Judaism) or as transcendent / incarnate (Christianity) to one that sees God as, in Spinoza's words, "the immanent, not the transitive, cause of all things" (Spinoza 100) resonates deeply in literature as well. For someone attuned to literary history, the significance of a philosophy of immanence to the entire field of Romantic and post-Romantic poetry cannot be overestimated. Major critics such as M. H. Abrams, in Natural Supernaturalism; J. Hillis Miller, in Poets of Reality; and Charles Altieri, in Enlarging the Temple, have traced the development of immanentist thought in Romantic poetry and its successors. In the twentieth century, the philosophy of immanence has become so dominant in poetry that Altieri can distinguish two opposing kinds of poetry, "symbolist" and "immanentist," within the ongoing tradition of immanentist thought. Using Coleridge as the model for a symbolist poetry of structuration and Wordsworth as the model for an immanentist poetry of discovery, Altieri delineates the Wordsworthian side, to which the Objectivists belong, as follows: "Here poetic creation is conceived more as the discovery and the disclosure of numinous relationships within nature than as the creation of containing and structuring forms. Hence its basic commitment is to recovering familiar realities in such a way that they appear dynamically present and invigorate the mind with a sense of powers and objective values available to it" (17). The Objectivists represent the most dedicated application of these principles in American poetry—so much so that critics have come to denote the immanentist strain in American poetry as "objectivist."
Reznikoff's own unswerving commitment to "recovering familiar realities in such a way that they appear dynamically present and invigorate the mind" makes him the model Objectivist. In his conception, divinity can only be recovered immanently, by an ethical immersion in the details of mundane existence. Looking to figures such as Da Costa and Spinoza, Reznikoff plumbs the sources of immanentist thought in Jewish history and brings them into an American context that weds Judaism and natural supernaturalism.
Over "Jerusalem the Golden”
In "Jerusalem the Golden," the title poem of the 1934 book he published with the Objectivist Press, Reznikoff places Spinoza within a genealogy of immanentist thought in Jewish culture. The four sections of the poem, respectively titled "the Lion of Judah," "The Shield of David," "Spinoza," and "Karl Marx," move from biblical scenes to modern philosophy, stressing the progressive influx of the divine into ethical acts of daily life. In "The Lion of Judah," the setting is war, and everyone—the soldiers, the prophet Samuel, and King David himself—seems driven by bloodlust. In the final lines of the section, though, the prophet Nathan insists that even the king of Israel, who has arranged the death of Bathsheba's husband, must submit to justice; he will not be the one to build the Temple because of his excessive recourse to bloodshed:

But Nathan said to the king, even David, the great king,
You have dealt deceitfially with the Hittite, your faithful servant;
and you shall not build the Lord's house,
because your hands have shed much blood.
(CP 1.127)

"The Shield of David" continues the theme of righteousness in daily life, depicting God as preferring to be worshipped "in kindness to the poor and weak, / in justice to the orphan, the widow, the stranger among you, / and in justice to him who takes his hire from your hand" (1.128), rather than honored through ritual correctness in sacrifices, festivals, feasts, and fasts. This preference is similar to Reznikoff's opting in "Kaddish" for direct communion with his dead mother over the "trifles" of "prayers and words and lights" (2.56). After narrating the two biblical scenes in "Jerusalem the Golden," he speaks in the voice of Spinoza, suggesting that the philosopher, like a new prophet, makes the next major step in bringing God into the mundane world:


He is the stars,
multitudinous as the drops of rain,
and the worm at our feet,
leaving only a blot on the stone;
except God there is nothing.

God neither hates nor loves, has neither pleasure nor pain;
were God to hate or love, He would not be God;
He is not a hero to fight our enemies,
nor like a king to be angry or pleased at us,
nor even a father to give us our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses;
nothing is but as He wishes,
nothing was but as He willed it;
as He wills it, so it will be.

The Deity who says in "The Shield of David," "I am the God of Justice, I am the God of Righteousness," has become the God of nature, who no longer speaks through Scripture but rather inhabits the entire created universe. Spinoza's God has lost his anthropomorphic qualities but retains his ability to be everywhere and to make everything happen: "Whatever is, is in God, and nothing can be or be conceived without God" (Spinoza 94). As Reznikoff interprets it, this marks the ultimate expression of the sanctity of the ordinary: no matter where we turn—toward the stars, the rain, or the worm passing underfoot—there is nothing but God anywhere.
Yovel designates Spinoza's conception of God's immanence as his most radical contribution to philosophy, a contribution expressing a rejection of both conventional Christianity (represented in Reznikoff's poem by echoes of The Lord's Prayer: "a father to give us our daily bread, forgive us out trespasses") and conventional Judaism (whose images of God as hero and king are also negated in the poem). Such a rejection, Yovel argues, could have been made at this time only by a Jewish thinker. Although Descartes, Leibniz, and the skeptical deists all postulated a "God of the philosophers" in their rational systems, they placed his metaphysical role as Creator and First Cause outside creation. Spinoza was the only philosopher who refused God any particular role, seeing God instead as the totality of the universe:

The identification of God with the world implies a more profound rejection of Judaism and Christianity than ordinary atheism. Spinoza does not contend that there is no God, only the inferior natural world. Such a contention is itself steeped in a Christian world view. Spinoza contends, on the contrary, that by virtue of identifying the world with God, immanent reality itself acquires divine status.
(Yovel 1.175)

Like many Jewish intellectuals of the past two centuries, Reznikoff is drawn to Spinoza for the way he shifts the religious categories of sanctity, justice, mercy, and righteousness into the mundane world, where the poet believes the deepest religious obligations reside. Milton Hindus confirms this reading of Reznikoff's religious position, noting, "His God, except in direct translations from the Bible, is perhaps nearer to the God of Spinoza and of Whitman than He is to the God of Jewish tradition" (Hindus, Charles Reznikoff20). Discounting the personal God of the Bible, Reznikoff himself says, "To me God is not a human being, that is, talking of putting his hand over anyone" (MP 120). In his rejection of a personal God, Reznikoff follows a tradition established by Spinoza in his Theological-Political Treatise, where he argues that our "personal" relationship to God is a matter wholly of superstition, based upon our desires and fears (Spinoza 6-10). If God is not personal, then the modern Jew can focus personal relations not outwardly toward the transcendent realm but inwardly toward the immanent realm of other human beings and nature.
In "Karl Marx," the final section of "Jerusalem the Golden," Reznikoff speaks entirely from within the immanent realm, as one of the workers for whom Marx's vision of justice has become operative. Sharing Marx's wholly immanentist philosophy, Reznikoff's speaker anticipates an end to alienated labor, war, hatred, hunger, drudgery, and private property, reaching a prophetic climax with a central communist dictum:

Proclaim to the seed of man
throughout the length and breadth of the continents,
From each according to his strength,
to each according to his need.
(CP 1.129)

These final lines of "Jerusalem the Golden" (and of the volume bearing its name) carry Reznikoff's historical vision of the evolving understanding of justice in Jewish thought into the era of the Great Depression, when the desire for work was a palpable need and the possibility of revolution was a mounting hope. By its placement after "Spinoza," "Karl Marx" also ties the contemporary revolutionary movement to the tradition of Jewish secularism, with its central emphases upon justice and social belonging.
Reznikoff is not the only Jewish-American intellectual to link Spinoza and Marx to a chain of Jewish revolutionaries. Isaac Deutscher (1907-67), author of the famous essay "The non-Jewish Jew," also constructs a secular Jewish tradition running through these two major figures. A child prodigy, ordained at thirteen as a rabbi in his native Poland, Deutscher became in succession a poet, a communist, and an anti-Stalinist. His "non-Jewish Jew" has gone beyond local identifications and embraces universal liberation, following in the footsteps of Spinoza, Heine, Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky, and Freud: "They all found Jewry too narrow, too archaic, and too constricting. They all looked for ideals and fulfilment beyond it, and they represent the sum and substance of... the most profound upheavals that have taken place in philosophy, sociology, eco-…
*) Robert Manaster, « Opening Up a Tradition, a Return from Exile: The Vision in Charles Reznikoff's "Jerusalem the Golden". » In: Shofar, Vol. 21, No. 1, Special Issue: Jewish Poetry (FALL 2002), pp. 44-62
Enige sites over Charles Reznikoff:
Volgens worldin80poems zou de bundel Jerusalem the Golden zijn belangrijkste werk zijn.

Reznikoff was advocaat 'dus' is er deze aardige pagina over hem op "Lawyers and Poetry" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Reznikoff
Joshua Clover Jan. 22, 2006 in The New York Times over 'The Poems of Charles Reznikoff 1918-1975'

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