Benjamin Paloff

Two's an expedition...but three's an invasion...or so it is
whenever men stand psalming over maps...or so it seems
in commercials, which demonstrate a psychotic behavior
and demand that we replicate it...though we belong equally
to this reckless patchwork of grids and tiny cast-iron vehicles,
all of it abstract, none of it fictitious...but then there is nothing
petty or worthwhile in human history that cannot take place
on a field...though vision is the best we can expect if being
must be mediated by the body...and yet my gestures
of remembrance have nothing to do with what I've experienced
as massacres...which aren't massacres like the Boston Massacre...
which they say wasn't really much of a massacre...but I guess
that makes me the cat who's swallowed his one true story.




Philo (roughly 20 BC-50 AD) is a funny character, one of those guys you can listen to for hours on end, maybe not agreeing with a single thing he says, but fascinated by the awesome complexity of his errors. Not that he's always wrong. On the contrary, his interpretive method, which fuses Jewish and Hellenistic thought, can be brilliantly persuasive. But it is when he is grappling with mysteries that he is most fun. Philo radiates a faith that there are answers within the Word, behind the Word, and that these answers might be accessible to a patient intellect. It is in this respect that his failures can be so moving: reason becomes the instrument of an emotional consciousness, for whom the pursuit of truth is vital, obsessive, quixotic, doomed. He never seems to get where he thought he was going, but he keeps going.