Short-Circuits of Sense

Harmless short-circuits of uncommon sense that are made by

mythological connections between the present and the past

unrealistically by means of magic memories, can tie

together tenses which, because they’re only temporary, don’t last.


Imagination plays with all tenses metaphorically,

creating myths about what never happened though this strangely seems

to have occurred when they are looked at unhistorically,

metaphorically interpreted like Freud’s most famous dreams.


Resonances in the Bible are called gezerah shavah, and have shocked

a lot of readers who these biblical short-circuits senselessly have mocked.


Bruno Schulz, the great Jewish poet artist-writer murdered in Drohobycz on November 19, 1942, perhaps a victim to a feud between two Nazi satraps, wrote: “Poetry happens when short-circuits of sense occur between words, a sudden regeneration of the primeval myth” (Jaroslaw Anders, “The Prisoner of Myth,” TNR, November 25, 2002, reviewing “Regions of the Great Heresy, Bruno Schultz: A Biographical Portrait,” by Jerzy Ficowski, trans. Theodosia Robertson (New York: Norton, 2003).  Anders says that Schulz has been compared to Kafka, partly because the first Polish translation of “The Trial” bears his name, although it was probably translated by his fiancée, Józefina Szelinskaya, suggesting that Schulz is actually more similar to Rilke.  In a letter to the Polish poet Julian Tuwim, Schulz writes: “You have taught me that each state of the soul pursued sufficiently far into its depths leads through the straits and canals of the world––into mythology.”  Anders says:

His baroque metaphors, his brilliant and innovative linguistic clusters certainly “renew” the world, but they do not discover anything about its nature, origin, or destiny.  It is more likely that the search for a “primeval myth” is for Schultz merely an alibi for a free play of imagination.  His real goal is not the philosophical or religious probing of life’s depths, but the experience of life in an intensely sensual and radiantly aesthetic way.

Bruno Schulz’s aphorism about poetry, viewed from a different plane, might have been inspired by verbal resonances in the Bible: ‘Poetry happens when short-circuits of sense occur between words, a sudden regeneration of the primeval myth’. For the rabbis, verbal resonances, identified in the Mishnaic period by the term שוה גזרה , lexical analogy, 356 were an important method for facilitating the clarification of halakhah and the midrashic elucidation of biblical narratives. In many respects verbal resonances make it important to read the text as closely as a poem. This may be why B.T. Sanhedrin 21a bases the commandment, that every Jew should write the entire scroll of the law (Deut. 31:19), on the Deuteronomic commandment which specifically requires all Israelites to write no more than the poem with which Deuteronomy concludes (32:1–43).357 The Pentateuch, replete with verbal resonances, requires close and deep reading just as in poetry. The words of Ps. 119:54 may be read literally: ‘Your laws are songs for me in the house of my sojournings’. The Greek word for harmony, αρμονία, is derived from αρμός, whose original meaning is ‘good joining, impeccable linking’, and the links between texts created by verbal resonances are the biblical authors’ harmony, aurally linking texts of an oral Torah and the rest of the Bible before they were ever committed to writing.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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