As globalisation has increasingly hybridized geophysical borders and boundaries, it has also produced a whole plethora of socio-cultural, gendered, and racialized asymmetries. Such asymmetries shape the novels, What We All Long For by Dionne Brand and Fury by Salman Rushdie, where the protagonists’ global realities threaten to consume their identities. Both authors, however, expose the ways in which transnational memory does not escape its own commodification, but becomes what I call ‘the Golem in the room.’ Through the protagonists’ obsession with toy-making, dolls in Rushdie’s Fury and the ever-growing golemic lubaio project in Brand’s What We All Long For, the authors problematise the consuming grip of globalisation, but also inevitably mobilize alterity as an intrinsic part of our humanity, a gesture that transforms memory from a phagic site of exclusion to a creative process of ethical intervention, acknowledging simultaneously the otherness of the self and the selfness of the other.
With the increasing hybridization of geophysical borders and boundaries, cultures are becoming transcultural, nationalities transnational. As Sirkin, Hemerling, and Bhattacharya (2008) suggest, the very ‘idea of foreignness is foreign in our contemporary world,’ in which ‘business flows in all directions,’ where ‘commerce swirls and market dominance shifts,’ in the transnational tango of ‘manyness’ (Sirkin et al, 2008, 2, 18). The paradox is that no matter how familiar the idea of foreignness has become, it continues to haunt us in the form of –isms and alterities upon which it often depends. As foreignness gives way to sameness, heterogeneity to homogenous, multicultural wholes, we are faced with a whole new plethora of socio-cultural, gendered, and racialized asymmetries.

Driving such asymmetries is a ‘new political economy of otherness’ that, under the guise of collective diversity, reduces transnational others to alternative commodities whose presumed difference has become a much necessary spice in our salad bowl of cultures (Braidotti 2006, 44). As Bissoondah (1998) acutely notes, in multicultural societies such as Canada or the United States, one is expected to perform one’s otherness, to put it on display. For Bissoondath, ethnic festivals are a case in point. In their celebration of diversity, they often do not escape tokenizing difference and thus ‘abdicate one’s full humanity in favour of one of its exotic features’ (Bissoondath, 1998, 5).

Ironically, such tokenization produces the illusion of homogenous strangeness whereby ‘the Other is eclipsed,’ his or her embodiment elided (Baudrillard & Guillaume 2008, 27). Such elisions often create an ever-present need for deploying the transnational as a scripted embodiment of alterity whose persistent re-membering and dis-membering has become the primary staple on the consumerist market fed by technology and mass media. As contemporary literature reveals, what is at stake are not only the social injustices that lie in the wake of these elisions, but also their constant re-productions through the acts of memory. The recent novels, What We All Long For (2005) by Dionne Brand and Fury (2001) by Salman Rushdie, draw attention to the ways in which the transnational’s memory does not escape its own commodification, but becomes what I call ‘the Golem in the room,’ an uncanny yet healing encounter with animated strangeness that consumes from within, but that also ‘fails to be contained with ontology [being],’ as Ahmed puts it (Ahmed, 2000, 141).

Critical studies, however, continue to link the two novels’ preoccupation with otherness primarily with technological progress and globality rather than the destructive, consuming potential of individual and cultural memory. In their readings of Brand’s What We All Long For, Dobson (2006) and McKibbin (2008) focus on the ways in which globalisation instigates new forms of (trans)national belonging. Critical studies of Rushdie’s Fury, on the other hand, ponder the commodification of humanity in the wake of global technology. While Brouillette, for instance, notes the ‘dissolution of barriers between the real and the fictional, the actual and the simulation’ (Brouillette, 2005, 144), Gonzalez aligns Rushdie’s ‘poetics of simulacra’ with the ‘indiscriminate pantophagy’ of the information age (Gonzalez, 2008, 765).

Shifting the focus slightly, I explore the ways in which both Rushdie’s and Brand’s emphasis on alternative others (more pertinently, toys and humanoids) is aligned with the narrativization of diasporic memory, a process that exposes the reliance of multicultural discourses on re-membering as a potential means of negating or assimilating rather than embracing difference. I argue that, underpinning the two novels is a furious threat of being consumed not only by desire, but also by the usurping global memory scripts that commodify the transnational from both within and without, hence, as I will show, the obsession with toy-making in Rushdie’s Fury and the ever-growing golemic lubaio project in Brand’s What We All Long For.

As an embodiment of the healing and potentially destructive turns of diasporic memory, the Golem serves as a pertinent metaphor for the role language and narratives play in the construction and interpretation of transnational identity. A humanoid made of clay and water, the Golem has been the staple of many legends and stories. One of the most popular recounts the story of Rabbi Loew, the Maharal of Prague, who around 1580, makes a golem out of clay and water as a weapon against ostracism, in other words, as a redemptive force to protect the Jewish community. To control the golem, Maharal relies on a mystical incantation of the letters inscribed on the golem’s head, which form the word emet; when the ‘alef’ is taken out, leaving met, meaning death in Hebrew, the golem falls back to dust. Once however Maharal begins to desire more of the golem, the creation, fed by his master’s desire, outgrows its master (Morris, 2007; Lancaster, 2008) [1].

As critics have recently noted, golemic representations as symbols of global hybridity and human potential to create and to destroy, pervade contemporary literature, cinema, and public art in many different shapes and guises. For instance, the studies by Creed (1993) and Braidotti (1994) have problematised the association of alterity with the ‘monstrous’ in film, Ambros (2007) has drawn attention to the hybridity of the golem/robot figure while Morris (2007) has explored the redemptive inflections of the golem figure in Jewish American literature, particularly in relation to the complex task of narrativizing repressed memories of Holocaust survivors. From a psychological standpoint, Wilson links the golemic humanoid to human longing for ‘an ideal double’ that ‘exacerbates the very longing that it was meant to assuage and thus proves an object of hatred as well as love’ (Wilson, 2006, 5).

Crucial to my reading is Lancaster’s definition of the golem as ‘a transpersonal’ textual, visual, and bodily ‘frame of reference for memory and thought [that] shits from the purely physical [the clay body] and personal [the creator’s projection] to that of the collective […] body’ (Lancaster, 2008, 4). As an embodiment of collective (and we could add ‘global’) memory, it can be also seen as a transnational figure that substantiates the link between identity and memory, self and the other, but that also helps us understand human fascination with ritualized extensions of self, including their psychological, cultural, and, more recently, globalized mass reproduction. Moreover, the figure’s rootedness in the three distinct yet interrelated mnemonic spheres: the private, the public, and their intersections (and simulations), provides a useful model for reading Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For and Salman Rushdie’s Fury as novels exploring transnational memory as a phagic yet mutant site of ethical intervention. Through the toy-making in Rushdie’s Fury and the ever-growing golemic lubaio project in Brand’sWhat We All Long For, both narratives externalize the multicultural subjects’ fears of cultural (con)fusion by deploying transnational identity as an uncanny, albeit artistic re-production that is ‘not free-floating,’ but rather ‘positioned in histories, cultures, languages, classes, localities, communities and politics’, and thus inevitably enmeshed in its own, otherness (Espiritu, 2003, 12).

Both Brand and Rushdie go to great lengths to re-create this diversity as a site of mnemonic reproduction whereby individuals and collectives legitimate and simultaneously objectify their realities through the process of narrativization, a gesture that has healing but also homogenizing, if not traumatizing effects. Refracting the protagonists’ ever-shifting microcosms through other characters’ stories and lives, the authors expose the ways in which the persistent erosion of the private and public, reality and fiction and vice versa drives not only globalisation as has been suggested by critics, but also the characters’ desire for a sense of individual identity. At the same time, however, the desire for belonging in the multicultural world where the transnational is consumed as the ultimate commodity—whether in the form of being hyphenated as is the case in Canada or melted into the American dream—triggers what could be called a surplus of difference that is persistently ‘enframed’ and ‘turned,’ to paraphrase Heidegger (1977), as a multicultural (double) practice, or as Ahmed puts it, as a ‘double and contradictory process of incorporation and expulsion’ (Ahmed, 2000, 97).

Both novels reflect the authors’ concern with the increasing homogenization of the world and its subjection to consumerist massification that, as Bauman cogently argues, relies on desire that ‘has itself for its constant object and for that reason is bound to remain insatiable however high the pile of other (physical or psychical objects) marking its past course may rise’ (Baumann, 2000, 75, emphasis added). Indeed, framing both novels is the emphasis on the ways in which globalisation relies on such ‘piling’ of otherness through an unlimited process of cultural, psychical, and political reproduction that generates new forms of transalterity, embodied by the protagonists’ golemic creations. These creations, in their textual and figurative forms, represent what Rand, drawing on Abraham and Torok, calls ‘a twofold memory trace that encompasses death-dealing traumatic occurrences and the infinitely varied mechanisms of successful survival’ (Rand, 1994, 101).

In their emphasis on the power of memory to create or destroy not only textual, but also physical bodies, both Rushdie and Brand evoke the Heideggerian notion that globality or technology, like art, ‘belong to the same bringing-forth [of a thing into being], topoeisis’ whose effect depends on specific inflections or ‘turning’ of meaning (Heidegger, 1977, 13). Such emphasis on semantic ‘turning’ in order to decipher meaning is crucial to the golemic ritual of ‘re-membering’ as giving form to words and ideas (Lancaster, 2008) [2]. Fittingly, both (traumatized) protagonists see themselves first and foremost as artists and mystical ‘creators,’ whose detachment from society and their own fragmented selves serves to protect them, but at the same time inevitably invokes the estranging facet of globality as consuming alterity. Both are devoted transnationalists, desperate to find refuge in the seductive anonymity and borderlessness of the cities: Toronto and New York, respectively—which they treat not as a home, but rather as a book of uprooted narratives that enframe their own otherness [3].

Tuyen, in Brand’s What We All Long For, is a Canadian of Vietnamese origin, a passionate photographer and an androgynous beauty, who rebelliously ‘pushe[s] and pull[s] at the borders’ (Brand, 2005, 38). Through the lens of her camera, Tuyen reviews the global network of ethnic neighbourhoods, the sidewalks filled with ‘ghosts’ of the people whose lives have been ‘doubled, tripled,’ who ‘catch themselves in sensational lies, embellishing, or avoiding a nasty secret here and there, juggling the lines of causality, and before you know it, it’s impossible to tell one thread from the other’ (Brand, 2005, 5). Like the Eritrean accountants or Bulgarian mechanics she photographs, Tuyen, albeit born in Toronto, harbors a whole genealogy of family secrets: her parents’ escape from Vietnam, the loss of professional lives, and mainly the unfortunate disappearance of their first-born son, Quy, that lies at the heart of the family’s traumatized identity. Balking at her parents’ sublimation of grief into a desire for things, ‘a voracious getting,’ and a ‘businesslike readiness’, Tuyen searches for escape in the artistic process of creating her lubaio, which is, like the Golem, a part figure, part mystical repository of the city’s ‘longings’ (Brand, 2005, 63, 149).

On another continent, Professor Malik Sollanka, a former history professor at King’s College in Cambridge and a famous dollmaker, secretly boards a plane to New York where he hopes to endeavour what he calls the ‘un-selfing of the self’ in the city that ‘boiled with money’ and where ‘living women wanted to be doll-like’ (Rushdie, 2001, 74). Like Tuyen, Malik is seduced by the city’s ‘multitudes,’ ‘the satisfying anonymity in the crowds, an absence of intrusion’—the city where people come to ‘lose themselves’ (Rushdie, 2001, 7). Without a word, he abandons his second wife, Eleanor and their three-year old son, Asmaan, leaving behind his life in Britain, a successful career in BBC, and his commercially successful creation, his favourite doll, Little Brain. While Tuyen uses camera to get in touch with ‘the alterity buried beneath its so-called reality’ (Baudrillard & Guillaume, 2008, 146), Professor Solanka makes dolls to create but also narrate a ‘microcosm of his own’ (Rushdie, 2001, 16).

In both novels, ‘enframing’ and ‘turning’ of reality through the process of narrativization (be it in textual, virtual, or visual form) takes on the role of a mystical ritual whereby ideas, thoughts, and texts come alive in the humanoid figurations of their own, but also the world’s brutally oedipal traumas, political scripts, and unresolved griefs. In other words, their repressed longing externalized in their divine, Golem-like creations, evokes their eclipsed humanity (which is also reflected in the ambivalent sexuality pervading the texts: the dolls are sexualized yet a-sexual; Solanka and Tuyen androgynous), but also points to the consequences of voracious globality and its new forms of idolatry (see Brouillette, 2005; Gonzalez, 2008).

This is manifested in Tuyen’s and Solanka’s need to anthropomorphize their desire for sustaining some sense of identity in a world increasingly decimated by cultural homogenization. At the same time, however, their need to be in control of their identity, the most personal of creations, breeds frustration since the very project of such narrative anthropomorphosis simulates otherness as a figuration of other, alternative lives that subjects them to ‘an incessant questioning…like a flame which burns yet consumes nothing’ (Levinas, 2000, 209) [4]. As Lancaster (2008) emphasizes, this form of duality is essential to the golemic tradition where the human need for a more spiritual, divine connection also doubles as a consuming desire for power. While, as the golemic legends reveal, the golem’s essential role is to redeem the oppressed, it is the master’s desire for control and power that turns the golem into a consuming, destructive weapon (see Singer, 1986; Wilson, 2006). Transnational memory, as Rushdie and Brand show, follows a similar dynamic: while the transnational subject relies on the memory to work through the trauma of feeling homogenized, such a process inevitably consists of dis-membering past identities, which can be extremely traumatizing.

This ambiguity is exemplified when Professor Solanka’s favourite doll, Little Brain, publishes her memoirs on Amazon, but the former professor, alias dollmaker millionaire, feels outdone, reduced to a mere cog in the grand orbit of the ever-spinning global machine. Furious at what he sees as not only the doll’s but also the world’s breach of ethics, Solanka turns into an (in)tense doll-making machine, creating back-stories and characters of his new ‘PlanetGallileo,’ called Puppet Kings. This process inevitably physicalizes and sexualizes memory. As Lancaster suggests, one of the physical aspects of the golem is its corporeal (sexualized) quality associated with the power of language to foster intimacy (Lancaster, 2008, 5). Indeed, if Solanka’s Little Brain embodies the seductive facet of knowledge and desire (Little Brain interviews famous philosophers and historians who are brought back from the dead), his new warrior puppet group invokes the consuming brutalities of power that result in further ‘ellipses of the other,’ to put it in Guillaume’s words (Baudrillard & Guillaume, 2008, p 27).The narrative inscribes these ellipses by projecting the physical drama of the national uprising in Fiji in 1999 and 2000 onto the fictional world of Lilliput-Blefuscu swept by the uprising led by Akasz Kronos who dreams of the Free Indian Republic of Filbistan, a Solanka’s own self-projection against the Elbee Skyresh Bolgolam, a world populated initially by his new virtual puppet creations, Puppet Kings [5].

As with his first Gallileo planet, Solanka’s creations are triggered by sexual seductions, a trigger that parallels the deep seated sadness he spends most of his life repressing. Indeed, his first doll, Little Brain is a plastic embodiment of his second-wife, Eleanor. The first series of his dolls evokes the ways in which our closest relations are inevitably sites of alterity where the Other is ‘the one who alters our life,’ to put it in Baudrillard’s words (Baudrillard, 2008, 115), but also potentially subjects us to the phagic seduction of deeply familiar, intimate scripts and incantations. This Eros of seduction is then projected onto the political realm where the eclipsing of otherness has to do with homogenization of transnational identities that are thus subsumed into the narrative of the national state as a whole. In this way, Rushdie exposes the ways in which ethnic stereotypes rely on personal and collective memory. The significant role of memory in world politics has received a lot of critical attention lately. In his introductory essay to the collection titled Memory, Trauma, and World Politics, Bell, for example, reminds us that memory, whether personal or collective, legitimates, if not enforces a certain interpretation of the past.

Above all, memory plays a major role in determining the dynamics of individual and collective identity formation, which in turn shape both perceptions and political action. These processes are central to the origins and reproduction of communal identities, as well as in explaining many of the challenges to, and transformations of, such identities. (Bell, 2006, 29)

Moreover, since, as Fierke (2006) points out, nations are imagined, conscripted fictions that rely on ritualized incantations of the past, Rushdie’s linking between personal acts of memory and their publicly ritualized scripts expose the ways in which personal eclipsing of otherness can also become a form of a nationalist, fundamentalist ellipsis.

Such ellipses are often phagic, in the sense, that driving their activity is a desire for a complete assimilation or ‘ingesting’ of the other (see Bauman, 2000, 101). In both novels, this desire is linked with trauma. This is particularly exemplified in Solanka’s use of his doll narrative not to sublimate but elide the repressed memory of his childhood in India that lies at the heart of his obsession with toy-making. Raised as a girl because his mother’s second husband wanted a little ‘girl,’ Solanka, a victim of incest, represses the traumatic event which sublimates in his doll-making ritual. Annihilated by the world of adults, Solanka, ‘locking his thoughts away,’ finds the only escape in his dolls who become his confidantes and ‘angels’ as he calls them (Rushdie, 2001, 223). With the increasing sublimation of the repressed memory, Solanka’s only point of exit is to go to America, to accomplish his ultimate commodification by melting into America’s ‘playing field, its rule book’ (Rushdie, 2001, 88).

But as he soon realizes, ‘fury—sexual, oedipal, political, magical, brutal—drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths. Out of furia comes creation, inspiration, originality, passion, but also violence, pain, pure unafraid destruction, the giving and receiving of blows from which we never recover’ (Rushdie, 2001, 3/4). As the following passage shows, Solanka associates his becoming-doll with a golemic creation that further embodies this complex dialectic:

[w]hen he was bringing them into being, they were as real to him as anyone else he knew…they started out as clay figurines. Clay, of which God, who didn’t exist, made man, who did. Such was the paradox of life. Its creator was fictional, but life itself was a fact. (Rushdie, 2001, 95)

So when his Puppet Kings burst out of his script onto the world wide screen, Solanka is forced to re-connect with the repressed, othered parts of his many selves, and, like Rabbi Loew, lay his furious Golem to dust.

The persistent play on politically embodied memory also pervades Brand’s text where Toronto, like Solanka’s New York, figures as a transnational mammoth; an urban body whose alterities are rising from its dust. Framing this body is Tuyen’s ever-growing installation, her artistic creation of the city’s longings, her golemic lubaio, a figure consisting of wood, plastic bags, photographs, inscriptions, and people’s post-it notes, a ‘book of longing’: ‘She had cut arms into it and had every intention of carving symbols into the whole structure’ (Brand, 2005, 157, 223). An extension of her self, the lubaio is a representation of her estrangement from the familiar body of ghosts, a sum of life’s brutalities, exile, and losses. An embodiment of the golemic destructive force is the ultimate ghost of the narrative, the lost, found, and later killed brother Quy, who calls himself a monk while being a weapon of destruction, selling everything, even children. As he says, ‘I was a monk. I renounced the world, I didn’t know the world. It’s all self-deception anyway. I’m not about to apologize for what I did’ (Brand, 2005, 218). Indeed, while Quy’s parents spend their whole life looking for him, Quy has no interest in being found. Quy’s automaton-like existence, his inhumanity and lack of conscience, but also his narrative spectrality constitute what Baudrillard and Guillaume call ‘radical alterity,’ a ‘someone who not only does not miss me, but misses no one’ (Baudrillard & Guillaume, 2008, 7).

While Tuyen’s family is consumed by the loss of their long lost son, internally they keep Quy alive through idealized memory that consumes them from within. To cope, they avoid the traumatic event through their fetishization of not only work and ‘things,’ but also their son, Quy. Propelling Brand’s novel is what Baudrillard calls the ‘spectrality’ of desire, the longing for the Other who remains inaccessible, but whose absence produces an alternative, albeit spectral presence (Baudrillard & Guillaume, 2008, 46). Consumed by grief, Tuyen’s parents are not quite there for their children. Their children, yearning for parental love, become irrevocably bent on collecting not only others, but also others’ desires, desires not their own. These are, as Brand, says the uncanny ‘permutations of existence’ (Brand, 2005, 5): the permutations of otherness, the tangled webs of unrequited desire create radical forms of estrangement that turn humans into automatons, simulacra of their former selves, mechanical puppets whose memories, their ultimate scripts and creations sublimate into an Other. Indeed, the more Tuyen’s parents refuse to discuss or mourn their lost son publicly, the more mechanical and trapped in their globality they become as they turn into the furniture they accumulate or the house in Richmond Hill, one of the wealthier but also very ethnic neighbourhoods in Toronto.

This mechanization parallels the ways in which their ethnic identities are commodified, in spite of their life-time endeavour not to be viewed as Other. It is in fact their plugging into the global consumerism that heightens their difference since, as Ahmed emphasizes, difference is globalisation’s ultimate fetish commodity (Ahmed, 2000, 115). This is exemplified in the irony of their Richmond Hill house which is ‘one of those suburbs where immigrants go to get away from other immigrants, but of course they end up living with all the other immigrants running away from themselves’ (Brand, 2005, 55). It confirms their Canadian success by simultaneously conscripting their Vietnamese identity as the tokenized fetish of Canadian multiculturalism, which paradoxically means giving up on their personal dreams and turning into ‘Vietnamese food’ (Brand, 2005, 67). ‘Once they accepted that,’ Tuyen contemplates, ‘it was easy to see themselves the way the city saw them: Vietnamese food’ (Brand, 2005, 67).

As Brand acutely reveals, this is the very paradox of their globality that consumes them as food, but also inevitably deprives of them of identity by making them part food, part food-making machine feeding the desire for a ‘global fix’ (Hitchcock, 2003, 190). To put it differently, they morph into an amorphous body trapped in the process of consumption. Tuyen’s brother, Bin, further exemplifies the seductive yet phagic aspect of consumption as the one who lives up to his parents’ desire for commercial success by receiving an MBA from the University of Toronto and driving a BMW. But while his parents trade their lives for an emotional immobility, Bin turns pain into gold as he unscrupulously builds his corporate empire on human trafficking from Vietnam, Thailand, and China to Toronto. Similar to Rushdie, Brand raises the issue of ethics of the increasing homogenization of transnational identities in multicultural societies. In this respect, Quy performs a subliminal or, to use Lancaster’s words, ‘transpersonal’ function in Brand’s text: he is the narrativized version of his family’s animated grief, the embodiment of the destructive side of memory that must be re-scripted and taken on by the lubaio, the humanoid creation, that embodies the book of his family’s ever-consuming origins:

[s]he had cut arms into it and had every intention of carving symbols into the whole structure, but for the moment her clothing hung from the arms, along with a bag of onions and another of her beloved potatoes. (Brand, 2005, 223)

Like Solanka’s dolls, Tuyen’s ever-growing lubaio takes over her room, her mind, slowly turning into the city’s consciousness: ‘she would need a larger space for the installation, three rooms really, very high ceilings’ (Brand, 2005, 308).

In both texts, the spectral alterity of desire, its unreality turned real, turned life is mimicked in the narrative fury of media becoming texts, bodies, but also commodities and automata—birthing new forms of transnarrativization. While the danger of multicultural societies is that they can turn into potentially phagic places of ethnicity as the ultimate commodity, such transnarratives, however, do not always escape the persistent ellipses of their own memory scripts. As Bauman has noted, drawing on the work of Levi-Strauss, anthropophagia is borne out of negative connotation of others as danger, threat (Bauman, 2000, 101). But as Brand and Rushdie reveal, social, political, and cultural phagia is often connected to destructive acts of memory, scripts that seduce us with their stereotypes, with their radical otherness. In both novels, memory becomes a ritual that resuscitates desire whose spectral reality produces a life of its own, growing into golemic proportions, brought to life by the ritual of othering.

If, as Braidotti suggests, ‘the defining moment of becoming-ethical is to move across and beyond pain, loss, and negative passions’ (Braidotti, 2006, 84), it means going beyond the very notion of otherness since as Ahmed says: ‘to welcome an other as [the other] is to assimilate that which cannot be assimilated’ (Ahmed, 2000, 150). Both Rushdie’s and Brand’s texts are narratives prompting ethical intervention that starts first and foremost at the core of one’s self, where our own otherness might finally be the way into the selfness of the other, the golemic yet protean site of our mutual (trans)alterity. Given the limited space of this paper, I have merely outlined the complex dialectics of the self and other by examining the ways in which discourses of otherness and transnationalism often become ‘magic’ incantations of global homogeneity. But since as Sirkin et al suggest, we might as well get used to the fact that ‘we are competing with everyone from everywhere for everything’, perhaps it is time to embrace this competition ethically by transforming memory from a phagic site of exclusion to a creative process of ethical intervention, a process that acknowledges simultaneously the otherness of the self and the selfness of the other (Sirkin et al, 2007, 1).


*This paper has been first presented at the Global Conference, “Otherness and the Arts,” held at the University of Aarhus, August 6-9, 2008. I would like to thank the reviewers for their candid suggestions and helpful comments.

  1. See also Wilson (2006); Singer (1983).
  2. Cp. the Heideggerean concept of ‘enframing’ and ‘turning’ with the golemic tradition where semantic permutations are crucial to the animation of the Golem. As Lancaster emphasizes, the ritual evokes the complex metaphysics of the text as body, body as text as specific letters are linked to a particular part of the body. In his words, ‘bet corresponds to the mouth, gimmel to the right eye … (although, again, diverse traditions are found)’ (Lancaster, 2008, 3). Indeed, the proliferation of diverse traditions is essential to the Talmud as a figurative home for Diasporic people (Rosen, 2000, 14).
  3. Both Dobson (2006) and McKibbin (2008) deploy the multicultural city as a space of negotiable narratives. Cp. Gonzalez (2008) and Brouillette (2006).
  4. See also Emmanuel Levinas (2000), “Revelation and the Jewish Tradition,” for his discussion of the Talmudic tradition of questioning as a means of embracing difference.
  5. For a detailed historical analysis of the events, see Brouillette (2005).


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