Following Monica’s Lecture, My Midrashic Impulse Will Accept No Limits

I could think of no better way to spend my sunny Monday lunch hour than to attend a UCLA lecture on the uplifting topic, "Literature, the Holocaust and the Midrashic Impulse."

I covered my arms completely so that the speaker would not be distracted by my raw animal magnetism and would be able to engage fully in philosophy.

I made three videos on the mile walk back to my car. They may not be good, but they’re long. The badness goes on till the midrashic impulse in my soul is sated:

Here are my thoughts on post-modernism and Judasim:

Here’s a link to Monica’s blog.

Monica writes:

When I was a child, I had a bizarre and unexplainable obsession with the Hebrew bible. Specifically, I found the inconsistencies, contradictions, ambiguities, and often silenced characters both compelling and maddening–not that I would’ve articulated it in this way as a child. Many years later, as a grad student, I began studying modern and contemporary Jewish literature, and at some point I stumbled on classical Midrash, an ancient rabbinic form of biblical commentary that responds to biblical gaps and essentially extends the primary text as a way of finding the meaning that was already located within it. From a personal standpoint, I loved the way Midrash opened up the biblical narratives for me, widening and deepening them. But I soon came to love the theoretical aspects of the midrashic mode, and wondered if as a theoretical impulse it might have some currency outside of the biblical realm–particularly in the sense that Midrash is both inside and outside the text (kind of like a mobius).

Last year, I finished a PhD in English with a dissertation titled "The Midrashic Impulse: Reading Fiction, Film, and Painting in the Face of the Shoah," which was a project that brought all of my greatest interests together–Midrash, Theory, Jewish Fiction/Film/Painting, Ethics, Representation, and the Holocaust. Basically, the dissertation (which has now morphed into a book project) identifies what I call the midrashic impulse in literature/film that responds to the Holocaust. This midrashic impulse allows writers to respond to collective trauma through extensional means as opposed to representational methods. This is significant because when we use representation methods to depict trauma we usually create one thing–an image, let’s say–to stand for (or re-present) the tragedy. And it seems to me that there’s something distancing about this method, and so my project explores texts that use non-representational (or midrashic) methods to treat subjects like the Holocaust more ethically.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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