Iconoclasm

Closely related to the ban on (mis)using the Name is the taboo against Image-making. Obviously, there is a great diversity in the understanding of this commandment among the People of the Book. Rather than doing the obvious and going to Muslim sources, however, I propose to quote the Christian mystic Eckhart — as interpreted by a contemporary, secular Jewish poet, Stanley Kunitz. You’ll see why in a second:

The Image-Maker

A wind passed over my mind,
insidious and cold.
It is a thought, I thought,
but it was only its shadow.
Words came,
or the breath of my sisters,
with a black rustle of wings.
They came with a summons
that followed a blessing.
I could not believe
I too would be punished.
Perhaps it is time to go,
to slip alone, as at a birth,
out of this glowing house
where all my children danced.
Seductive Night! I have stood
at my casement the longest hour,
watching the acid wafer
of the moon slowly dissolving
in a scud of cloud, and heard
the farthest hidden stars
calling my name.
I listen, but I avert my ears
from Meister Eckhart’s warning:
All things must be forsaken.
God scorns
to show Himself among images.

(Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected, Norton, 1995. 122.)

“I avert my ears”: I love that!

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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