Dreams of Being Eaten Alive: The Literary Core of the Kabbalah

David Rosenberg, Author Harmony $22 (208p) ISBN 978-0-609-60306-2
Poet, author and editor Rosenberg is perhaps best known for The Book of J (1991), a controversial bestseller in which he translated part of the Torah and, together with his co-writer, Harold Bloom, claimed that the sacred text's true author was a woman. In this new book, he tackles the Kabbalah, adding to its secret abstruseness the assertions that it is erotic and kin to what he calls ""frontier ecology."" Rosenberg opens with a hard-to-read section on ""How to Read the Kabbalah,"" followed by his translations of selections from the Zohar, the Kabbalah's canonical book. The third section, ""How to Receive the Kabbalah,"" contains explanations of the Zohar translations. Unlike Judaism's concern with belief and behavior expressed in a social philosophy and a theological framework, the Kabbalah deals with mysticism, myths, emanations, spirituality and dreams, including the cannibal dream that gives Rosenberg's book its title. Primarily, Rosenberg interprets the Kabbalah as a book ""obsessed with failed sex."" Rosenberg's ruminations range so widely that they are sometimes difficult to follow; alongside allusions to Kafka and Dante, he refers to the television series Touched by an Angel and devotes nearly an entire chapter to the spirituality exhibited on Oprah. Rosenberg struggles valiantly to elucidate what he means by ""frontier Kabbalah,"" ""creative Kabbalah"" and ""practical Kabbalah,"" but the end result is a muddle. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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