Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Hat investigates the Kaballah.
I am a flâneur, and proud of it. No less an authority than Charles Baudelaire, the decadent 19th-century French lit'ry figure with an unhealthy fixation for Edgar Allan Poe, defined this term as one "who walks the city in order to experience it."

Leave it to the French to come up with a word for my lifestyle.

The critic Walter Benjamin wrote, "The street becomes a dwelling for the flâneur; he is as much at home among the façades of houses as a citizen is in his four walls. To him the shiny, enamelled signs of businesses are at least as good a wall ornament as an oil painting is to the bourgeois in his salon. The walls are the desk against which he presses his notebooks; news-stands are his libraries and the terraces of cafés are the balconies from which he looks down on his household after his work is done."

And my flâneur tendencies provide fodder for a blog three times a week. Such a lifestlyle is the centerpiece of this Web site, which you can disappear into for days, like Alice in a hall of hyperlink doorways.

It's autumn, and with the turn of the month, people are moving in and tossing out. This can increase the interest factor of my saunters when I quite physically stumble over objects and articles left along sidewalks.

I've retrieved lamps, chairs and tables from such piles of apartment ejecta; nothing at all wrong with these things, they were just too heavy, the wrong color or too old for the user to care about. And I ponder why these objects have been deemed useless by their former owners.

Such as these diagram charts I found on my way to lunch earlier this week. Somebody was making a study of the Kaballah, the cosmological and spiritual "Tree of Life" of Jewish mysticism.

It's much ballyhooed and misunderstood by faddists, like me, who got caught up in the arcane terms during one of my phases in college. All those black-covered Llewllyn Publications guides to the Kaballah ended up cashed in at the Richmond Bookstore when I realized I didn't have time to be a learned mystic. I was dateless and hermetic enough.

I know next to nothing about Kaballah except that the words are cool and mysterious-sounding, what with the 10 Sefirot given names like Chokhma and Tiphareth.

Keep your eyes open this weekend.

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