Writing / Published Works

Prophetic Activist Art Art: Activism Beyond Oppositionality

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International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, Victoria, Australia, Fall 2008

Every era of human development represents a time of profound crisis, one in which the very survival of the species hangs in the balance. The invention of the crossbow in the fourth century B.C. foretold a time of unlimited casualties in war, leading to the potential destruction of civilization.

The Relevance of the Beautiful?

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Panoptikon: On Contemporary Visual Culture, American University in Dubai, UAE, January 24, 2008

Little is said around the art world these days about beauty; the beautiful is simply a quaint and mistaken idea from some past that no longer exists. It is seen as a bit too sincere, a touch saccharine and absolutely irrelevant to the contemporary art scene. In some circles, it is even viewed as reactionary, subversive to the idea of being subversive.

The Question of Sufi Influence on the Early Kabbalah

cover of Sophia, The Journal of Traditional Studies
Sophia: The Journal of Traditional Studies, Oakton, VA, Winter, 2007-2008

No mystical teaching so defines Jewish spirituality as does the Kabbalah. With its roots supposedly sunk in deepest Jewish history-by some accounts stretching all the way back to Moses, Abraham or even Adam-the Kabbalah has remained at the center of Jewish worship from its true inception in the 13th century.

War as Love: How the Mystic’s Quest has been co-opted to Sell War

Mid Atlantic Popular Culture Association Almanack, New York, Fall 2008

Given the importance of war to statecraft, a method of convincing citizens of its necessity is essential. For this reason, politicians conflate war and God, which become hopelessly entangled with each other in the public square. To convince a nation that a gruesome and inequitable political alternative is necessary, social leaders need a means that will break though the rational resistance towards war that exists in all of us. The use of God and religious terminology in selling war to society does just that.

Real Artistic Style is How One Behaves in a Crisis

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Panoptikon: On Contemporary Visual Culture, American University in Dubai, UAE, November 6, 2007

“There is no syntax in painting. Anything can happen on the canvas and you can’t foresee it. Paul Valery used to say that if the idea of poetry hadn’t existed forever, poetry could not be written now. The whole culture is against it because language is always being worn down and debased.

Rabbi Isaac of Acre and His Followers: Early Kabbalists under Sufi Influence

Sufi journal Vol. 73
Sufi Magazine, London, England, Summer, 2007

No mystical teaching so defines the soul of Jewish mysticism, as does the Kabbalah. This medieval spiritual path is as central to Judaism as is Sufism to the practice of Islam. What is virtually unknown, however, is how indebted is the Kabbalah to Sufism - and how the two systems are in fact intertwined at their roots.

The Sufi Influence on Spanish Jews

American Culture/Popular Culture conference, Boston, MA, April 5, 2007

Perhaps my first and most important task this morning is to explain how something that happened more than 1000 years ago, six time zones across the Big Pond and between two peoples that are small minorities of our contemporary American citizenry, is germane to 21st century American popular culture.

Towards an Understanding of the Jewish/Sufi

Ratner Museum
Speech to the Jewish Community Relations Council, Ratner Museum, May 2, 2007

The narrative of history always represents the specific political and cultural biases of those who have power, and who want the past to fit into their vision of the present.

When Jews wore Turbans: A Surprising History of Jewish/Muslim Mutual Respect

Heliport Gallery
Symposium, Heliport Gallery, Silver Spring, MD, March 8, 2007

An activist artist friend of mine in San Francisco, Richard Kamler, said to me recently: "We all know what war looks like; there's no reason to create any more art that picks at the scab of that wound.  But what does


look like?  How can we, as artists, present the imagination of peaceful coexistence?"

The Call for a Moral Ombudsman

Reflections Magazine, Hibbard, MN, April 2006

I am calling for the creation of a non-profit organization whose constituency would be


Americans. This institute would ignore political affiliation or economic clout when evaluating events in the political field. Issuing its decisions in policy papers, op-ed articles, press releases, scorecards on the votes of public servants and reaching out in other manners, this non-profit watchdog would create an agreed upon


center from which to judge the legislation and the public actions of our elected leaders.

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