November 2016


image“When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters, God said, ‘Let there be light.’  And there was light.”

*welter and waste. The Hebrew thou wabohu occurs only here and in two later biblical texts that are clearly alluding to this one.  The second word of the pair looks like a nonce term coined to rhyme with the first and to reinforce it, an effect I have tried to approximate in English by alliteration.  Thou by itself means emptiness or futility, and in some contexts is associated with the trackless vacancy of the desert.

– Genesis 1:1, translated by Robert Alter, with commentary

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The Story of the Lost Child


“Naples was the great European metropolis where faith in technology, in science, in economic development, in the kindness of nature, in history that leads of necessity to improvement, in democracy, was revealed, most clearly and far in advance, to be completely without foundation.  To be born in that city–I went so far as to write once, thinking not of myself but of Lila’s pessimism– is useful for only one thing: to have always known, almost instinctively, what today, with endless fine distinctions, everyone is beginning to claim: that the dream of unlimited progress is in reality a nightmare of savagery and death.”

  • The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante, translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein

Continue reading “The Story of the Lost Child”

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