Friday, February 23, 2007

Dr. Frankl, You are Much Smarter than Me

I spent the bulk of my yom kippur poring over "Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning," a 154-page romp through several therapeutic techniques, ontological insights, and words in foreign languages that I will never understand. I chose this book for two related reasons: one, because it's the perfect medium between a holiday prayer book and a comic book, and two, because its author, Dr. Viktor Frankl, is an Austrian Jewish Holocaust survivor who's gone on to become perhaps the most celebrated pyschologist in the world.
I read about half of "Man's Search" around the start of 2005, when I was living in Israel and thristing for anything written in English, especially something written in English that wasn't also written by a Rabbi. I didn't really understand the book then, but, feeling that I've been armed with 2+ semesters of American college (ha!), I picked it up at Barnes and Noble and saved it for Yom Kippur's ample down time (read: the entire Yom Kippur). Essentially, I was not only incorrect to assume that I'd understand the book this time, but I was also tragically misguided as to its message: it is not, as I hoped, a direct proof or disproof of G-D's existence. The parts I understood comprise a technically-based litany of very complicated things I don't really get: a proof that the concience is based in something transcendent, presumably G-D, and isn't just our moral compass. A 3-page analogy/comparison whose conclusion is that concience, love, and art all stem from a spiritual, unconcious place, and that all 3 suffer when we try too hard to reflect conciously on their origins.
This much I got, though: very hungry. I got very hungry when I woke up in the morning, even hungrier when I used all of my mental energy to get through 54 pages of Frankl, and hungrier still when it dawned on me that Yom Kippur is coming again next year, and I don't even know what to wear.
I hope everybody who observes had a meaningful holiday, in whichever way that might be, and I hope that no one's life is as difficult as trying to skim "Man's Life for Ultimate Meaning" in the back of a dimly-lit synagogue on a fast day.

Stay hungry, Eddie Vedder
MC Repentance

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