By Martina Urban
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Additional resources for Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber's Early Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik
Yet given his approach to religion from the perspective of its potential for renewal, he insists that “Talmudism” or “Rabbinism” must yield to a (more) dialectical interaction between form and the formless if Jewry wishes to remain vital and partake of modernity. buber’s hermeneutic horizon 27 This leads us to yet another feature of Buber’s project of representation of Hasidic spirituality. In his early years he considered himself primarily an artist of a spiritual Zionist outlook. Literature, not Wissenschaft was the preferred means for renewal, and the anthology its medium.
As a florilegium (a “collection of flowers”) the anthology is defined as a representative reading of tradition, and as such it needs to be distinguished from less specific representations of literature in the form of collections or miscellanies. ”3 The Greek term anthologein suggests a select representation of excerpts from a corpus of texts guided mainly by aesthetic criteria. In its representative selectiveness the anthology inevitably prompts the formation or reconfiguration of a canon. This observation raises subsidiary issues of epistemological significance, pertaining to the relation of the anthologist to the specific tradition to be represented.
The essay, “Das Leben der Chassidim,” is a metawork, for its commentary is intrinsic to the teachings it cites. To put it differently, the removal of Buber’s commentarial voice—which either summarizes, paraphrases, or offers an interpretive translation (even if poetic)—would make many of these decontextualized excerpts and aphoristic teachings incomprehensible to the assimilated or even the acculturated reader. Tellingly, Buber does not confine himself to interpretation but presents—as he indicates in formulaic phrases in “Das Leben der Chassidim”—an authoritative reading.
Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber's Early Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik by Martina Urban