Frank Lloyd Wright, The Natural House
“ Vistas of inevitable simplicity and ineffable harmonies would open, so beautiful to me that I was not only delighted, but often startled. ”
Evelyn Waugh, Black Mischief, Chapter 5
“ It was from the least expected quarter, the tribesmen and villagers, that the real support for Seth’s Birth Control policy suddenly appeared. ”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, A Dangerous Place, Chapter 1: A Half-Life, p8-9
“ In that I was a member of the Cabinet, protocol provided that I step out of Air Force One behind the President and ahead of Kissinger, who was also on the journey. Somehow Kissinger invariably reached the ground ahead of me. ”
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America (paperback edition), p210-1
“ I couldn’t manage to be anywhere near a nun, let alone a pair of them, without a mind awash in my none-too-pure Jewish thoughts. ”
Ian Fleming, Diamonds are Forever
“ It was natural to bring out the small change and jerk the handles and watch the lemons and the oranges and the cherries and the bell fruits whirl round to their final click-pause-ting, followed by a soft mechanical sigh. Five cents, ten cents, a quarter. Bond gave them all a try… ”
David Pryce-Jones, “Jews, Arabs, and French Diplomacy: A Special Report”
“ The Zionists must understand once and for all that there can be no question of constituting an independent Jewish state in Palestine, or even forming some sovereign Jewish body. ”
Charles Darwin, The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals, Chapter 1, General Principles of Expression
“ It is well known that cats dislike wetting their feet, owing, it is probable, to their having aboriginally inhabited the dry country of Egypt; and when they wet their feet they shake them violently. My daughter poured some water into a glass close to the head of a kitten; and it immediately shook its feet in the usual manner; so that here we have an habitual movement falsely excited by an associated sound instead of by the sense of touch. ”
Edward Lear, Journals of a Landscape Painter in the Balkans
“ Not the least annoyance was that given me by the persevering attentions of a mad or fanatic dervish, of most singular appearance as well as conduct. His note of ‘Shaitán‘ was frequently sounded; and as he twirled about, and performed many curious antics, he frequently advanced to me, shaking a long hooked stick, covered with jingling ornaments, in my very face, pointing to the Kawas with menacing looks, as though he would say, “Were it not for this protector you should he annihilated, you infidel!” ”
Robert Graves, I, Claudius
“ The drink was as remarkable as the food, and Caligula became so lively as the meal went on that, deprecating his own generosity to Herod in the past as something hardly worth mentioning, he now promised to give him whatever it lay in his power to grant. “Ask me anything, my dearest Herod,” he said, “And it shall be yours.” He repeated: “Absolutely anything. I swear by my own Divinity that I will grant it.” ”
et Jacob, though nearer to us, is no ordinary fellow. He is more than complicated; he is comprehensive. Jacob is, first of all, a man of uncommon cunning and cleverness, a man of many turns and many ways, the biblical counterpart of Odysseus. Like Odysseus Jacob lives after the Age of Heroes (Achilles; Abraham); like Odysseus he lives largely by his wits; like Odysseus he is made to travel far in order to learn the ways of men and God and thereby earn the day of his homecoming. Though he is from time to time in touch with the divine, Jacob is mostly on his own, relying on his own powers and devices. Artfulness is his trademark, not only in speech but also, quite literally, in craft. Though to begin with a dweller in tents, he builds a house, the first in the new way. Like Cain and his descendents, he brings art to bear on nature, most notably in his “magical” breeding techniques. Like the builders of Babel, he — quite literally — dreams of reaching heaven, in his case with a ladder. Jacob, more than Abraham or Isaac, is the rational man at work.
But Jacob is not only the book’s most rational and resourceful character; he is also the most passionate. He displays lust for gain and righteous anger, he enjoys big dreams and suffers great sorrows, and he is the first to spontaneously experience the passion of awe. Most impressive is Jacob’s erotic nature: Jacob is the first biblical character who clearly falls in love. It is thanks to his erotic adventures (and misadventures) that he comes to be the father of a clan. Jacob is also tenacious and long-suffering; though very little comes easily to him, he endures and prevails. Owing to his persistent striving with God and man, he comes famously to bear the name of Israel. Jacob, both in powers of soul and in conduct of life, offers an enlarged picture of the distinctly human at work.
This means, of course, that Jacob must solve, at the highest level of complexity, the fundamental human difficulties illustrated in the pre-Abrahamic chapters of Genesis: difficulties caused by the troublesome elements of soul (freedom and reason; pride; greed; lust and eros; blood lust; excess love of one’s own; and the penchant for self-sufficiency) and difficulties relating to family members, neighbors and strangers, and God. In finding his place in the world, Jacob must deal with nature’s indifference to human merit (the problem of birth order). In his striving with his brother, Esau, Jacob must avoid being either Cain or Abel. In relation to his father from whom he steals his brother’s blessing, he must avoid being like Ham, a man who sees his father’s nakedness and refuses to cover it up. He must, despite his artful nature, avoid the pride of the builders of Babel. He must, despite his erotic nature, acquire the proper attitude toward women, marriage, and procreation. He must, despite entanglements with foreign peoples, avoid the temptations of imitation, assimilation, and idolatry. And above all, precisely because of his enormous talents and self-reliance, he must avoid the all-too-human propensity to ignore or forget about God, to regard himself as his own self-sufficing source.
As was the case with Abraham, the adventures of Jacob constitute his education — though, it should be confessed at the start, it will prove harder than it was with his grandfather to say just what it is that Jacob learns and how, precisely because he is such a complicated character. Like his grandfather, Jacob travels far and wide, and he dwells not only in Canaan but also in two other lands — Mesopotamia and Egypt — that offer the leading alternatives to the emerging biblical way of life. In his adventures, Jacob struggles with many vexing human relationships, familial, tribal, and international. He has troubles with his twin brother, his father, and his mother’s brother. He has complicated erotic and marital relationships, faces horrible difficulties as a father (including the rape of his daughter and fratricidal struggles between his sons), and he confronts peoples of different and threatening ways: Arameans, Shechemites, Egyptians. Throughout his trials, Jacob repeatedly struggles to acquire a proper relationship both with men and with God.
An Act of Courage and of Daring