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The Darkness of Babylon: A Russian-Jewish-Israeli Experience in Visionary Journeys of Mikhail Gendelev

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Chapter Summary

Recent years marked an upsurge in interest in the poet's heritage, academic and non-academic, culminating with the regular Gendelev Readings held in Jerusalem in November 2011-May 2012 by Mikhail Gendelev Memorial Foundation. In Gendelev, the Jewish people's ruin is equal to a downfall of God. The poet indulges in heated arguments with and accusations against the Almighty whom he blames of abandoning his people and thus de-facto committing suicide. Gendelev's recurrent motive of God's self-contraction and disappearance from universe bears outward semblance to the concept of tsimtsum in Lurianic Kabbalistic systems. The divine vanishing process, acquires a Gnostic turn with Godhead emanating an 'anti-God' or being substituted for by an antagonist here personified by Allah. The present study attempts to elucidate true foundations of Gendelev's poetry, its visionary basis. The source of dreams and poetic inspiration has little to do with heaven; it is a black chthonic funnel, primordial darkness.

Keywords: 'anti-God'; Jerusalem; Lurianic Kabbalistic systems; Mikhail Gendelev; primordial darkness; tsimtsum



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