Following Kitaj I’ve been dipping into Hasidism. Parallels between mysticism and art are too easy, and without much practical use, but insights can always help—if one is ready for them. Here is a hopeful observation from Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk: “Why does God demand sacrifice of man and not of the angels?…what God desires is not the deed but the preparation. The holy angels cannot prepare themselves; they can only do the deed. Preparation is the task of man who is caught in the thicket of tremendous obstacles and must free himself. This is the advantage of the works of man.” Tremendous obstacles sounds about right when considering art, though it’s encouraging to think that the struggle is what matters. But this is also a refutation of Heschel’s denigration of objects. Meanwhile, the biggest obstacles are also the most petty, day to day problems.

Frank Stella, "The butcher came and slew the ox," from Had Gadya 1982-84

Frank Stella, “The butcher came and slew the ox,” from Had Gadya 1982-84

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