Quite brilliantly, John Ruskin wrote of the Seven Lamps of Architecture; the seven lamps ,”lamps” meaning that which illuminates the mind or soul of sacred architecture. They are: sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory, and obedience; and when combined, they enhance devout practice and provide spiritual vitality in the sacred spaces they fill. Ruskin first proposed the seven lamps of sacred architecture in 1848 when he carefully examined the essence of Gothic architecture in Europe. It was Ruskin who first argued that these seven lamps sustain the essential character of religious architecture,and a framework for our mental architecture, with the role of aesthetics serving to elevate the soul.
Can the soul be elevated without dreaming? And can the dreamed of activity affect someone else’s dream?
”The first time I ever heard him speak was in the late 1980s, while he was still chief rabbi, at a memorial ceremony for a yeshiva student who had been stabbed to death in Jerusalem’s Old City. I can’t remember a word Eliyahu said, but the fire and brimstone tone of his sermon left an indelible impression. He poured holy rage on the heads of the Arab terrorists and, expecting yet another yawn fest, we were astonished and excited to hear such explicit words coming from a respected rabbi.”
There has always been a particular variant of Judaism that is part of a deeper ideology, both religious and national; defenders of the faith with statements measured and considered, that do apparently stem from no emotion, a kind of psychological pilfering that constructs little and shares less; manifestations of the less savory liminal states of consciousness that are in an uphill battle with losing a grip on reality. It has fostered generations of believers and activists in the national-religious camp for whom this particular brand of Jewish racism is a matter of instinct. Artistic expression is essentially limited, ambiguous, incomplete at best, and virtually unnecessary. Their trick is following their own complicate logic so seriously and insidiously that they completely draw fair numbers into their point of view.
In Jewish legend, the Hatam Sofer required a silversmith who had fashioned two figurines of Moses and Aaron as an adornment to the finials of a Scroll of the Law to remove from the figures the tips of their noses; the depictions of the human figure seen as the acme of an idolatrous image. The rub, is why a complete representation is utterly prohibited whereas, in certain circumstances and subject to certain conditions, an incomplete depiction is permissible. There is a position grounded in the view that inorganic matter is inanimate. It is no more than “wood and stone” ,a refrain common to the Psalmist and the Prophets. The Biblical Habakkuk’s exclamation–”there is no life”–in the carved image of wood and stone encased in gold and silver (2:18-29), is a reiterated denunciation.
When the object of the depiction is a human being, the effect of the purported transposition into matter is therefore spurious and destructive. The Prophets find an echo in nineteenth-century Vilna when Abraham Paperna denies to the sculptor’s artifact “the attribute of spirit and the inner movements of the soul.” From twentieth-century Paris Lévinas emphasizes the annihilation that the purported life of artistic infinity imposes on the individual: “Within the life, or rather the death, of a statue, an instant endures infinitely.”
This has always been in opposition to a thinking that explores the overlap between revelation and aesthetic form from within the perspective of Judaism. An example is setting the Jewish philosophy of Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig alongside its immediate visual environment in the aesthetics of early German modernism, most notably alongside “the spiritual in art” as it appears in the art and art theories of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Franz Marc. The modern shape of revelation—and “the spiritual in art” that emerges from this conversation—builds upon a vocabulary of form-creation, sheer presence, lyric pathos, rhythmic repetition, open spatial dynamism, and erotic pulse that was unique to Germany in the first quarter of the twentieth century, but is in evidence in all of the West. There is an identifiable sensual root that is brought to bear upon the modern image of revelation and “the spiritual in art.”
There are philosophic/ theological principles that Judaism employs in looking at and relating to the world as a whole. These entail principles that determine its aesthetic outlook; aesthetics implying general and universal principles applied to all art. Thus, there can be no aesthetics of Jewish art, but certainly a Jewish aesthetic of art. The denial of any form of universality, even within a reasonable Jewish aesthetic context that is ultimately rooted in the prohibition of idolatry and of certain types of pictorial representation, has ultimately to create a new aesthetic based on ethnocentric and volatile dimensions that by ”destiny” seems to create its own narrative, though one that tends to be predictable:
” In the early 1950s, he was still a firebrand and was sentenced to 10 months in prison for his membership in an ultra-Orthodox underground group that collected arms and firebombs with the intention of imposing the laws of the Torah on the young state. Upon his release, however, he changed tack and quickly aligned himself with the influential Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim and the politicians of the Mizrahi Party. Decades later, he admitted in an interview that his underground activity was wrong but added, “I haven’t changed my views, but the path I chose then was mistaken.”
The talmud is seen by Elie Wiesel as an opening to Judaism seen through the aesthetic dimension. ”It shows the aesthetics of Judaism, that Judaism is not only a philosophy, not only a set of ethical codes, but a thing of beauty. I study the talmud to find the beauty of Judaism. ” This inner realm that Wiesel evokes pulls apart the fragile veil of our supposed reality to reveal dreamscapes within that can be quite explosive. The aesthetic is like in the film ”Inception” by Christopher Nolan, where Cobb,plays the leader of a group of ”extractors” ; people who are able to participate in and shape the dreams of others; the revelation giving impetus to the expression of the aesthetic, which in a chicken and egg issue, could be the source of religion, yet finds itself repressed by the children it gave birth to. Discriminated by its multiple valences of reality…..
”I’m not sure when it first dawned upon me that Eliyahu was also a racist. Perhaps it was when I learnt of how close he had been to Rabbi Meir Kahane, the slain leader of the religious-fascist Kach Party. Eliyahu had passionately eulogized Kahane at his funeral in messianic terms and also wrote a glowing preface to one of Kahane’s books in which described the rabble-rouser as a man to whom “the path of God was always his leading light.”
It was hard to come to terms with his racism because he always struck me as an urbane and relatively “open” rabbi. He had an instinctive understanding for whoever he was in contact with, capable of holding discussions with anyone without giving off an impression of condescension, as do most ultra-Orthodox rabbis. His halakhic rulings were also surprisingly moderate for a man of his background. Instead of being based on the strict letter of Jewish law, they were compassionate and tailor-made to the Jew asking the question, not the rabbi delivering the answer.”
The primary reason for avoiding figurative representation in the sacred art of Judaism and Islam for that matter, was to avoid illusion or corruption of the human imagination. But do deny its employment is to adhere to the theory ”X” school that people are inherently bad, and any manner of noble lie, moral suasion and arm twisting is justified in keeping the herd under lock. guard and trembling fear. More precisely, illusion, projects one “order” of reality onto another, this means that every artistic creation must be treated according to the laws of its domain of existence and must make these laws intelligible. While man cannot change these laws he seeks to understand and interpret them. “In Judaism there is a perpetual insistence on the one hand that art is not employed or enjoyed for its own sake nor certainly as an object of worship.” Lindsay Jones explains how the notion of truth as seen in biblical text and the exegesis of revelation can be understood:
Yet there is on the other hand receptivity to the notion that the artwork that embellishes religious manuscripts and ceremonial objects along with synagogue architecture and decoration, can and thus should facilitate a beautification of the commandments. Thus historically, Jews even while respecting biblical prohibitions against representational art have been quite willing to acknowledge that art and architecture have a major role to play in bringing meaning and emotion to religious architecture and thus enhancing the fulfillment of God’s revelatory instructions to the Jewish people.”
In the film, ”Inception”, the extractors or dream thieves, can teach clients how to safeguard secrets locked away in their subconscious, or how to steal them from unfortified minds. Presented with the inverse challenge of implanting an idea in someone’s head, Cobb the leader, assembles his team and designs an intricate mind heist that leads them through layers and layers of dreams within dreams. The potential idea of multiple people sharing the same dream in intriguing. The creation of aesthetic realities that are appropriated for specifics, but are universal in nature; are the repressive and tribal characteristics of religion ultimately a losing battle to keep the genie bottled up and prevent a visual expression of that relationship between dreams and memory.
”Once you remove the privacy, you’ve created an infinite number of alternative universes in which people can meaningfully interact, with validity, with weight and with dramatic consequences” ( Christopher Nolan )
”Eliyahu’s compassionate manner to Jews from all walks of life and religious persuasion made his racist utterances all the more disturbing. He ruled, for example, that Jewish settlers in the West Bank can harvest the olive trees of their Palestinian neighbors and steal their crops as the land inherently belongs to the Jewish people. He repeatedly told a packed audience at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva following the terror attack there that “even when we seek revenge, it is imperative to remember that a thousand Arabs are not worth one yeshiva student.” During Operation Cast Lead in Gaza he wrote to the prime minister at the time, Ehud Olmert, that there was nothing wrong with indiscriminately bombing and killing Palestinian citizens if this would make the battlefield safer for Jewish soldiers.”