SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 18, 2014

Watson: Our past and our views can blind us

(Continued)

But the sheltered orthodox world in which he moves is not approving of his obsession. His teachers, peers, rabbi and, most of all, his father, sternly rebuke him for straying from the serious pursuits that would prepare him to be a traditional Hasid who would serve the faith.

His father, who agonizes over Stalin’s persecution of the Jews, cannot understand his son and repeatedly tries to get him to stop painting. He tells Asher that “in such a world as we have“ painting is foolishness, harmful, a desecration and worse.

When he discovers Asher painting classical nudes and famous copies of the crucifixion to hone his skills, he rages at his son. He tells Asher that his art is evil and vile and a gift from a force that would tear down religion. He goes so far as to question whether Asher is his son.

When Asher tries to explain to his father what painting means to him — how he is compelled to paint and how honestly and completely he can express himself with his pictures — his father shouts at him that only an animal can’t help himself, whereas a man has a will. The father says every man is responsible to direct his life in sacred directions, not indulge in worthless and profane activities.

Asher despairs. He sees the pain and suffering and injustice that exist in the world, and he sees how those realities torment his father, whose life is devoted to work which would lessen them. Asher cannot make his father — a Hasid emissary — see that he does with paint what his father does with words.

Ultimately, this story is about man’s capacity for blindness and the tragedies that occur because of it. Asher’s father is a good man, dedicated to making the world a better place. But his orthodoxy is so great, his life experiences so circumscribed and constricted, that certain perspectives and possibilities are simply beyond his comprehension. Even beyond the active considering that must precede comprehension.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson Today in History August 21 Holder Pledges Top Investigators for Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium