Lesson Plans The Finkler Question

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Yet it was only after the Oslo Accords, when Labor Mapai was desperately trying to convince Israelis that peace with the fork-tongued Arafat was feasible, that the self-haters emerged en masse from the closet. They assumed prominent roles at universities and attained political respectability by infiltrating the Labor Party and obtaining excessive media coverage in Haaretz and its English-language website, which prior to becoming dominated by post-Zionists was considered the leading intellectual newspaper of the land. Today it vigorously promotes journalists who demonize the state with the same vigor as their communist antecedents.

The Israeli self-haters range from outright political psychopaths like former Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon who justifies the Nazi murder of the Jews, to failed politician Avram Burg who delegitimizes his country. They include journalists who paved the way for the Goldstone Report and charges of war crimes against Israel by demonizing the IDF, while defending the intransigent and duplicitous Palestinians.

In addition, there are some Diaspora Jews, ugly blemishes on the fringes of Jewish communities throughout the world, who stand at the vanguard of the anti-Israeli pack. Most of those engaged in these activities, unlike Avram Burg, stem from assimilated or delusional leftist backgrounds and have no genuine involvement in Jewish life. But occasional despicable behavior by groups on the extreme Right may also qualify as a manifestation of self-hatred. Josef Burg, father of Avram, confessing to me that he was having sleepless nights out of concern that some Jews residing in isolated settlements would absorb and transform the fierce animosity radiated by Palestinians surrounding them into a form of self-hatred which could manifest itself by anti-social behavior.

He may be contacted at ileibler netvision. By Isi Leibler. Share on facebook Share on twitter.

Should Jews Play Wagner? | InTheMoment

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Teaching The Finkler Question

Hot Opinion. Yaakov Katz. Why Netanyahu and Gantz want us to believe they want unity. Ruthie Blum. Right from Wrong: From the mouths of mullahs. The attention to sound, particularly to consonance, is remarkable; to sustain that level of attention for a whole novel is really impressive. Two last thoughts on Wood's piece: 1.

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Where does Nabokov fit in? Or is he, not inappropriately, considered sui generis?

What Wood is saying, boiled down, is that you can either write a comic novel whose comedy is incidental, or you can fail. That's what's so frustrating about his categorization: it doesn't even allow the possibility of success outside his narrow rules. Not to parse an argument too closely, but doesn't the Lipsyte belong to satire not comedy? It's a bitter satire as well. It's interesting that Wood doesn't seem to address satire.

The Finkler Question (Man Booker Prize) 2010

I haven't read the Park yet, but the sections you quoted were superb and they sound more like the gentle comedy of an R. Narayan, whose work was also closely observed. For what it's worth I would describe your tone throughout the blog as being consistently comic: you convey the sense of being pleasurably amused at all that is in your purview. In any event, this was a fine piece. Thanks for posting.

Should Jews Play Wagner?

Joseph, I think you've got a point: if Waugh is satire, which I think he pretty clearly is, then Lipsyte qualifies as well. But Wood doesn't really deal with the concept of satire in this essay; instead, he lumps it all in with the comic novel, which is why I didn't break it out. I do think that Lipsyte is trying to be more than satire: he really does want us to care about his characters, whereas one of the glories of Waugh is his complete disregard for their fates.

Waugh is often ready to condemn a character to a horrible, unlikely, ridiculous fate for the sake of a satirical point, or even a joke. Lipsyte's writing is more inner-directed, more built around self-loathing than general misanthropy, and the natural home of pure satire is in the latter rather than the former. Friday, November 05, James Wood and the comic novel. There is comedy, and then there is something called the Comic Novel, and these are related to each other rather as the year is related to a pocket diary--the latter a meaner, tidier, simpler version of the former.


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Comedy is the angle at which most of us see the world, the way that our very light is filtered. The novel is, by and large, a secular, comic form: one can be suspicious of any novelist who seems entirely immune to the comic. The Comic Novel might imagine itself descended from Cervantes and Fielding, but it is really the stunted offspring of Waugh and Wodehouse, lacking the magic of either. In the work of English comic writers like David Lodge, Malcolm Bradbury, and Tom Sharpe, there is, too often, a tiresome need to be always seen to be funny.

I think the phrase he's looking for here is "flop sweat. And he makes an important, useful distinction here: most novels worth reading are comic; not all of them are comic novels. Those four are wildly disparate, but all in their own ways are practicing a form of psychological realism, and all realize that such an approach to the world requires them also to acknowledge their characters' occasional absurdities, smallnesses, and failures. None of those writers with the exception of Powell are as funny as J. Powers shows again what comic realism can do: how it attends to the human exception, how it scathes our pretensions and blesses our weaknesses.

And sting is the right term, for the rest of the genius of The Ask lies in its self-loathing, whose acid can dissolve any pretense; as you read it, you alternate between laughing and cringing. Laugh: Bernie and Aiden slipped from their respective parental grips and commenced conversation about an action hero, something not quite human that maybe transformed or transmogrified but in any event could easily exsanguinate any mother or father or adult guardian, which was the crucial part, the takeaway, as TV commentators put it.

It would have been hard to tell, witnessing the boys together now, that one had recently tried to bite off the other's penis.


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    • It was hard to imagine the boy completing kindergarten; remarkably easy to picture him in a tangle of fish knives and sailor cock under some rot-soft pier. The satire of Personal Days is much gentler, but no less on point, and it's given strength by the formal inventiveness of the novel, which allows for a sneaking accretion of emotion that unexpectedly explodes in the novel's rushing final section. Along the way, there's some truly wonderful comedy.

      Here, for example, is a passage that distills the frustrations of modern office life into a few short lines: Lizzie drags an icon out of a cluttered corner of her screen but lets go too soon. It falls into the document she's working on, which happens to be her resume. The icon bounces back to its starting place with a boinggg noise she's never heard before. She learns that Word cannot insert a file into itself. Word can seriously go fuck itself , she mutters. She's been talking to herself a lot lately but maybe we all have.

      Later she's trying to put a chart into a different document but gets scolded: That is not a valid action for footnotes. This is funny--the quick response, the finger-wagging strictness--but it also creeps her out.

      She calls up Pru except she accidentally dials her own extension and the little screen says, You cannot call yourself. Our machines know more than we do, Pru thinks. Even their deficiencies and failures are instructive.