“I’d say, ‘Trane, man, why are you doing that, beating on your chest and howling in the microphone?’. He’d say, ‘Man, I can’t find anything else to play on the horn.’ He exhausted the saxophone. He couldn’t find nothing else to play… he ran out of horn”
Rashied Ali

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

Humility

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Following yesterdays larger bit of translation, here is another, smaller bit from “Nisayon” by Yair Caspi this time about humility:

A study of humility requires overcoming a popular objection to it: at the beginning of the 20th century the socialists claimed that humility is a conspiracy through which the rich wish to train their workers to settle for a minimum wage. Their opposition, the nationalists said that humility is how weak nations subjugate visionary and daring nations.

In the beginning of the 20th century, technological prophets claimed that humility weakens the creative spark that ignites the internal will that dares us to do something that has never before been tried.

The marketing department says that informational advertising, that merely describes the qualities of the product without tying it to perfect beauty, phenomenal success, elated happiness, or higher status, will not sell.

The worshipers of man argue who was the bigger man and which theory is more perfect, but agree on one thing: if we do not tempt man with the heavens, if we take from him the hope to be like a god, he will cease growing. If we tell him directly: you’ve been given a special opportunity to experience a larger creator, to imitate him, to get really close to him and to never be able to cross a barrier that separates you, man will give up.

The path to humility requires overcoming the temptations offered by the prophets of the perfect man:

They tell us of immortal masterpieces whose creators have entered an eternal hall of fame.

They present us the greatest scientists who have deciphered the secrets of god and our bound to provide us total control in all domains.

They tell us stories of a hero that alone will save the world.

They show us how some people have become so rich, there isn’t a desire they cannot fulfill.

They present us with the perfect model. The first flawless woman.

They tell us how they have overcome all bodily limitations and desires, to achieve complete control, in weight or consciousness, their fears and pains completely, finally, absolved.

They tell us that we can too. If we just try a little harder. If we renounce our mistakenly adopted boundaries. If we purchase their secret. If we believe that man can be god.

Our patient today is a man that is too big. All knowing. All controlling. Special. Different from all previous generations. Endlessly loved and all his desires fulfilled. Always entitled and never guilty. Completely free. All deserving.

Our patient has been infected by an all encompassing lie about the state of man. A self-deception upheld by the entire world. It is present ever since we were gifted a little bit of knowledge that gave us an advantage over an ancient ape. The liars tell us that they have a solution for the difficulties of a man that knows god, wants to be like him and remains a man.

This is a well known sickness. The Greek tragedy has warned us extensively of hubris. The suffering of heroes is attributed to the human tendency to grant ourselves the status and power of gods.

The Greek hubris manifested in inter-personal relationships where people were divided into godly and downtrodden. It manifested in the attainment of high status by overcoming and humiliating the downtrodden. “I am of gods and you are of animals.” And from the other perspective: “I am of the downtrodden and need to be accepted by the godly.”

The ancient wisdom of Greece recognizes the danger but is unable to prescribe the ancient Hebrew medication. The culture that believes in gods that are half men half gods, is unable to relinquish the promise of the potential to cross the threshold and is unwilling to make do with the ordinary human status.

The man who is jealous of the power of the gods, their pleasures and eternal life, sets out on a journey in which he attempts to become like them. The journey will fail but he can’t help himself, is unable to learn from small failures, to go through a crisis and decide to change his course.

Like his gods who successfully crossed the border between man and god, the proud man is unable to let go of magnitude and eternal life, despite the clear signs of the terrible price they incur. There is no god to help him. Greek culture lacks a god that sets a clear boundary between himself and human beings. The tragic journey continues through to the complete annihilation of the man that has no boundaries.

The gods, half human, are protective of their place and threatened by the competition with human beings, and so they punish them with profound cruelty. They have set the story of man, compelled to seek godhood, bound to fail.

The god of Israel is different.

I had a plan to catch up with you, to claim dominion over your qualities. When I was finally able to let go of my conspiracy to replace you, I discovered that you were unimpressed. I never really endangered you. I didn’t compromise your status. All this running around was within myself. When I stopped, I took notice. I recognized my sin and the price I paid for it, I returned to my place and met you there greeting me “welcome.”

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