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Drawn Curtains

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"Dullness of words where God speaks. A dark which feels
good. Drawn curtains. On the dark page lines continue the
crease and the dream, the space between."

-Reb Rissel


   "Hope: the following page. Do not close the book."

   "I have turned all the pages of the book without finding hope."

   "Perhaps hope is the book."


   "In my dialogues there are no answers. But sometimes a question
is the flash of an answer.
   "My route riddled with crystals."
                                                                            -Reb Librad

   And Yukel said:

   "If an answer were possible death would not travel alongside life,
life would not have a shadow. The universe would be light.
   "Contradiction is the scream of a soul drawn and quartered by the
moment. Did not Reb Sedra write: 'Here is grain for your field: a
grain of life, a grain of death. The grain of life will nourish your death,
the grain of death feed your life.'"

                         ("Death will get the better of me. God can only help
                         me in the void."
                                                                           -Reb Zeilein)

Edmond Jabès. "Drawn Curtains" from From the Book to the Book © 1991 and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: From the Book to the Book: An Edmond Jabès Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 1991)
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Drawn Curtains

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  • An Egyptian Jew, Edmond Jabès was forced into exile by the 1956 Suez Crisis. He fled to Paris, where he joined the community of Surrealists, though he was never a formal member of the group. Jabès lived in France for the rest of his life, and in 1987 received France’s Grand Prix for Poetry. A major voice in postwar French poetry, Jabès remains difficult to categorize as a writer. His work is a pastiche of dialogue, aphorism, fragments, poetry, and song; much of his work focuses on the book as a place in which ideas—of exile, God, the self—are approached through question and echo. Though an atheist, his writing refers to Jewish mysticism and the Kabbalah. Speaking with Marcel Cohen, Jabès explained, “For me the words ‘Jew’ and ‘God’ are, it is true, metaphors. ‘God’ is the metaphor for emptiness; ‘Jew’ stands for the torment of God, of emptiness.”

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