Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Normal People Think

So I was hanging out with a group of friends last night, discussing, inter alia, my theories about mashiach, the wisdom of cutting one's own hair, and how one should cope with the fact that women are basically second-class citizens in Judaism.

[The last discussion was interesting enough to merit its own post, but I have no patience at the moment for chick stuff. B'Kitzur, my friend came up with 4 basic options: 1)Make up and/or believe fluff about it being about how women different and special and spiritual; 2) throw out the whole thing; 3)start picking and choosing within the system based on what appeals to you; 3) work within the system to make it less problematic. We basically chose 4, with a dash of 5) suck it up.

Did you know the etymology of suck it up? Fascinating.]

But what struck me was how similarly we were able to approach the issue. I mean, we were all able to pretty frankly admit the facts of the case, reject the fluff, discuss the historic reasons for such practices, debate the pros and cons of each option, and try to define the boundaries of legitimate action within the system. And, more impressively, we were able to joke about the limits of our own intellectual honesty (just enough to stay frum, to be exact).

And then I asked them all- do normal people think like this? I mean, I'm pretty sure that they don't, certainly not within the Orthodox community. But how not? I mean, how can one be moderately intelligent and not come to these sorts of conclusions? I mean, obviously not my personal conclusions, because they are frankly quite odd, but conclusions of the same general order of magnitude, if the term makes any sense. I understand if one rejects thinking about certain things, but how exactly do intelligent Modern Orthodox people seriously think about Judaism without reaching some opinions- any opinions- majorly outside of the mainstream way of thinking?

This is one of my less coherent posts, and I would delete it, but I really do want to know, and also I have not posted for ages, so I'm just going to let it go, and hopefully some sense managed to emerge.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Before-Sleep Thoughts

So there was this study that I once heard about that said that people who are told that the placebo they are taking has a side-effect of causing insomnia sleep better than people told that the drug has a side-effect of drowsiness. Apparently the former attribute all of their inability to the sleep to the drug, and stop stressing over it, while the latter figure 'If I can't sleep despite this drug, I must be really, really keyed up about something.'

My question: If you know about this study, and decide to believe that your cough medicine must be keeping you up, so that it won't, and then decide to believe what's keeping you up is your belief that you should be going to sleep faster because you believe that your cough medicine is keeping you up, and then decide to believe that what's keeping you up is your belief that your belief in your belief in your cough medicine's keeping you up is keeping you up..... at what point does the whole thing become ridiculous and serve in and of itself to keep you up?

(This whole thing is remarkably similar to the 'that was my most recent thought' game, that used to drive me crazy when I did it.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008


If poetry is self-expression,
Each confession cedes possession,
And I don't think I'm enough to go around.
I'll spill my guts and spill my ink,
I'll mix my soul for you to drink,
But what if you don't want a second round?

So prose is safe and wit is shield,
And every shrug's a sword I wield,
Against the creeping front of dull cliche.
And I'm not saying it's not real,
But if I flaunt Achilles' heels,
Maybe you won't see my feet of clay.