Sunday, January 15, 2006

Introducing.....Chana!


Image source here
"They are a diverse and eclectic crowd -- differing in age, origin, current location, and political leanings. I can't even say I know them all well. Some I know close to twenty years...and to be truthful, I only found one of them 2 weeks ago."
-Jameel
*
I am very honored to have been chosen as a guest-blogger during Jameel's absence. I am the one he has only known for two weeks.

My name is Chana. Here, I am known as the Curious Jew. I am seventeen years old, live in Chicago, am rather apathetic politically (well, that is my official stance, what lies below shall not be revealed) and enjoy discussions. I am an avid reader and follow the philosophy of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

I was/ am an outcast. At first this was forced upon me, but later it was a conscious choice I made, a desire to define myself rather than being defined by a system or set of rules. This choice was solidified in my change of schools, when I switched from Templars, an Orthodox Jewish single-sex high school where I wore uniforms to North Shore Country Day, a non-sectarian independant coed private high school. I feel a great personal connection towards outcasts- hence my love for Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Wicked.

The Phantom is perhaps my best example, and it is he with whom I feel the most affinity. He has been hated for his face, for he is "built up of death from head to foot" (129) but is truly brilliant. He has talents, unique gifts, a voice that is wholly passionate and otherworldly, a fierce and jealous nature- and he has been hated, loathed by all- for what? For his appearance...As he cries in the musical, "Why, you ask, was I bound and chained in this cold and dismal place/ Not for any mortal sin, but the wickedness of my abhorrent face!"

And it is indeed abhorrent-
    ...imagine, if you can, Red Death's mask suddenly coming to life in order to express, with the four black holes of its eyes, its nose, and its mouth, the extreme anger, the mighty fury of a demon; and not a ray of light from the scokets, for, as I learned later, you can not see his blazing eyes except in the dark.
But poor, poor Phantom! What has he done to deserve his treatment? Nothing...yet he suffers his whole life for it.
    What I now heard was utterly different from what I had heard up to then. His Don Juan Triumphant (for I had not a doubt but that he had rushed to his masterpiece to forget the horror of the moment) seemed to me at first one long, awful, magnificent sob. But, little by little, it expressed every emotion, every suffering of which mankind is capable. It intoxicated me...

This does not just apply to Phantoms and Beasts, but to everyone who is made to suffer for that which is not his fault...for everyone who is blamed wrongly....for injustice, wherever it exists.

I have a keen sense of justice and injustice and am quick to anger when I feel that I or another has been wronged. I can be stubborn and obstinate, high-spirited and impatient. These are both faults and strengths, depending on the situation.

I am bound up in people. I spoke to someone I respect, and she told me I was like Nick in 'The Great Gatsby'-
    I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought- frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation or a hostile levity when I realised by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions.

I am the person who has been called 'sensitive' since first grade. The type of person who 'cannot take jokes,' who takes ideas seriously, and who hates to be mocked. Sensitivity is a quality of mine that helps me in that I am able to understand certain people, but can also be a burden, for there are times when I don't want to hear..don't want to listen...don't want to know...

You will perhaps think that all this is rather presumptous for a seventeen-year-old to think of/ understand, but I assure you that age is not a barrier when it comes to thought.

I am an idealist. I believe in goodness, in purity, in truth. I believe in God, and in man's power to emulate Him. Oddly, however, I have a touch of rationalism/ realism in that I am very practical and very logical. Every step I take must make some kind of logical sense; there are consequences for actions, rules that must be followed.

My college counselor described it as "making order out of chaos."

I love chaos. I live in a chaotic world, have a messy room (though nothing much by teenage standards), a cluttered desk and jumbled thoughts tumbling through my mind. Chaos allows blotches of color, multitudes of ideas, whirling and spinning at a dizzying pace. But I also like to limit chaos, to make it understandable, to find the beauty that makes everything possible.

10 comments:

gregoryt said...

Chana, please put a link to your own blog - I, as an avid reader of your work, think that others would also like to read your posts.

Chana said...

Done! And thank you, GregoryT.

MUST Gum Addict said...

Welcome Chana. Jameel and I also only met a few weeks ago (although I admit it might have been 3 weeks, not 2). I lived in the midwest for a year (about 2 hours from Chicago, in northern Indiana). Hope the weather isn't too bad out there.

FrumGirl said...

Wow Chana! I too, related to the plight of the phantom!

'A face that earned a mothers fear and loathing, a mask my first unfeeling scrap of clothing"...

I wonder why I like your blog more - because it is so well written and well thought out or because I truly see myself in you? I hope it isnt the second one, I'd hate to view myself as so self absorbed.

Great post.

Ezzie said...

Beautiful imagery.

Incredible post, Chana. It is obvious why Jameel chose you to guest blog.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Ezzie: What? You think I woudln't invite quality talent?

What do you take me for - a cheap DovBear imitation?

The Muqata's even certified ISO 9001.

Tova Shulamit said...

How sweet is that. TO be able to make order out of Chaos...

Chana said...

Frumgirl-

It's not a bad thing to be self absorbed at times, and I don't mind at all! :)

And thanks to everybody for the compliments. And to Ezzie, for the link. And to Jameel, for making me laugh. Knockoffs indeed!

Ayelet said...

Wow. What a captivating post. I have many questions for you, Chana, but I guess I should address them to you after reading your own blog. *sigh* So much to read, so little time!

dbs said...

You are such an impressive writer, here and on your blog (and a vociferous debater as well). Granted that age is not a barrier to thought, (nor is thought a requisite for being older) but I’m pretty amazed.

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