perhaps I was thinking of
John Dos Passos
How would they read Torah
The Dust Brothers
What would they do with Torah
So I wrote a book
or i produced a book
or a book happened around me
through me, i don’t know
anokhi lo yada’ti אנכילאידעתי
Name of book:
These Are the Developments of the Human
i don’t know
what can i say about it
If it is an expression
of some law,
it can be measured:
It is four-hundred-something pages. From a two-dimensional perspective, it is a few inches taller than it is wide. How thick is it? In other words, how deep is it? That’s a dangerous question. Whatever answer I give will certainly be embarrassing.
Many pages have more
blank space than
that the ratio of empty
to text is
The text that there is
is all cut
into a broken kind
A broken poetry of Torah
A collage of Torah
Originally — sometime really at the very beginning — I thought I could express all sorts of Torah thoughts in Twitter-length packets of quanta — something like Hillel the Elder answering questions while a guy stands on one foot — but I very quickly realized that Hillel is much better with Twitter than I’ll ever be
So I cut up the Torah and the Talmud and the Tradition
into small pieces
quarks of Torah
Leptons of individual letters
and I threw them up into the air
And they landed as
a pile of Torah potential
a probability cloud of Torah
a probability cloud of Judaism
and I stitched it back together
I dispensed with
most grammatical convention
Thus far, I have described this work from my vantage point during one of its phases. But I also feel that, as with many texts, it can exist in a superposition — many phases or states simultaneously.
Relating to this book as it now exists in another phase, I see that it is a collection of notes from various chavrusas of which I’d been part. I had been thinking for some time that I should organize all these notes, which spanned more than a decade. When the Covid lockdowns began here in Detroit, I realized that I now had no excuse not to do so. As I got into it, a few themes seemed to emerge. Principally, Jewish ideas about how we come to more fully actualize ourselves as human beings, how we individuate from our parents and the context into which we are born, how we might return home, and how we live with uncertainty and vulnerability.
With this in mind, it also seemed appropriate to include some personal sketches of my time living in a remote Alaskan bush community, my life on the road as a touring musician/performance-philosopher, and my adventures traveling the oceans of the world on cargo ships.
Anyway, I wrote the book for my kids.
I wanted to give them some kind of an account of where I have been on the road, on the derech, my derech, our derech … and I hope they will fill in the blank spaces on the pages with their own accounts …
And if you want a copy,
if you think this sounds worth your while
We’ll find a way to get one to you
And I hope you’ll enjoy it
And I hope you’ll fill in the blank spaces
Thank you for your time and consideration
Author, musician, and philanthropist Ethan Daniel Davidson has recorded 11 albums and toured throughout North America and Europe. In 2005 he left his touring life and returned to his Detroit roots where he helps run the William Davidson Foundation established by his late father, Bill Davidson. The private family foundation strives to fulfill its founder’s legacy by advancing the economic, cultural, and civic vitality of Southeast Michigan, the State of Israel, and the Jewish community for future generations.
Following his father’s passing in 2009, Ethan began participating in minyans (Jewish daily prayer) every day for a year as part of the traditional Jewish mourning process. That led to chavrusas (study partnerships of Jewish text) with locals in Detroit and with famed rabbis across the country today, including Arnie Eisen, Benny Lau, Asher Lopatin, Amichai Lau-Lavie, and others.
Ethan serves on numerous boards in the Detroit area including at the Motown Museum and as the Chairman of the Michigan Opera Theatre. At the University of Michigan, he earned a degree in English along with graduate work in Middle Eastern History and Islamic Law. He has also studied Jewish Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Ethan and his wife Gretchen live in Metro Detroit with their 3 boys.