Thursday, July 15, 2004

Seraphic Secret in the Press

Several weeks ago, Jason Maoz, Editor-in-Chief of The Jewish Press wrote me an e-mail. He told me that reading Seraphic Secret, my diary of grief and loss and love, has had a profound impact on him. Jason asked my permission to publish excerpts from this blog as a front page story in The Jewish Press, the newspaper with the largest circulation in the Jewish community. Naturally, I hesitated. Wouldn't it look like I was becoming an opportunistic grief monger? Would it not be better to keep a low profile and confine myself to my own blog? Luckily, I'm smart enough to talk to Karen before making any decision. Karen looked at me as if I were smart as, say, a doorknob, and said: "Of course you should do it. We want people to know about Ariel, don't we?" Jason did a sensitive and seamless job editing my blogs, and I wish to express my deepest appreciation for his hard work.

My very good friend, Jackie D was fascinated with Ariel's thoughts on Halacha, Jewish law, and the right to bear arms. I explained that Ariel had thought long and hard about the issue, all within the framework of Torah. Ariel passed away before he could write the essay he wanted to, but I have managed to gather some of Ariel's ideas based on his notes, and on our many lively conversations about the Second Amendment. Jackie D was so taken with the essay, that she sent it to the superb political website Samizdata. This fine blog receives tens of thousands of visitors a week. The good folks at Samizdata also liked what Ariel had to say and they have printed the essay, "Jewish Law and the Right to Bear Arms" in today's issue. I'd like to add that any mistakes are mine and mine alone. Ariel would have produced a far more thorough and coherent essay. I hope he will forgive my feeble attempt. But, as I wrote to Jackie D, Ariel would have been thrilled and proud to be in the company of such distinguished thinkers. Thank you Jackie D, thank you Samizdata.

Karen has just walked into the room and she says, "Robert, I'm really worried." When Karen has that tight look on her face, I pay attention. That taut expression combined with cautionary words sends a beam of fear from stomach to spine.
"What--what's wrong?" I stammer.
"Your blog, Robert. People are going to read Seraphic Secret in the Press and they are going to be disappointed. There is no secret here, and nothing Seraphic. It's just, well, links."
"Karen, didn't you read Camellia?
Karen looks at me, baffled.
I explain: "Camellia is today's Seraphic Secret posting. It comes directly after this posting."
Karen ponders this for a moment, then says. "You have to fix it, Robert. Let people know that there's more after this entry. Or they will just read this and turn off their computers and not read further down."
So: this is to let everyone know that if you just hit your Page Down button, or use the wheel on your mouse, and gently move the Page Down function, you will find Camellia today's Seraphic Secret. It also, I believe, has the best title of any post I've ever done. Which, by the way, is something I'd like to talk about.
Titles: I spend an sinful amount of time trying to find the proper title for each posting. It's not easy. Titles are an art form. They should, ideally, add another layer of poetry to the blog. It has to be organic; true to the spirit of the blog, yet at the same time it should be evocative; evocative without being precious, or even worse, obscure.  I am not good with titles. My Hollywood scripts give me stomach aches when it comes to naming them. I walk around for months with "Untitled" under my arm. I find naming my blog entries a bit easier. But still, I can spend as much time working on the title as I do on the blog itself. Is this normal? For a writer, there is no normal. It's just comes down to varying levels of looniness.
I'm rambling; that means I'm tired. It also means that I am not exactly sure how to end this long digression. Endings are hard. Almost as hard as titles. And so, to end this, let me just, well, stop.
Wait, listen to Karen; Page Down, read Camellia. And oh yes, let me know if you like the title as much as I do. 

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Camellia is a good title. As my high school English teacher would say, in an oh-so encouraging voice, "Good imagery!"

I actually find titles quite easy - as long as I'm not restricted as far as length. Shorter is better, but more difficult.

--jackie

July 16, 2004 at 6:08 AM  
Blogger leibel said...

Ariel meet Rafi
Reading Robert Avrech's article on his son is looking in a mirror.

Ariel passed away at 22.
Our son Raphael (Rafi) passed away at 22.

Ariel had pulmonary fibrosis.
Rafi had cystic fibrosis.

Ariel's father is a professional writer.
Rafi's father is a professional writer.

Ariel's family began a publishing house to honor the memory of their son.
Rafi's family began a library to honor the memory of their son.

Both the publishing house and library specialize on "high quality fictuion suitable for children with Torah values."

Should the Avrech's wish to explore similarities
and differences, they are invited to contact my wife and I.

July 19, 2004 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger leibel said...

Reading Robert Avrech's article on his son is looking in a mirror.

Ariel passed away at 22.
Our son Raphael (Rafi) passed away at 22.

Ariel had pulmonary fibrosis.
Rafi had cystic fibrosis.

Ariel's father is a professional writer.
Rafi's father is a professional writer.

Ariel was a student at Ner Israel and a natural teacher.
Rafi was a chapter leader for NCSY and a natural
teacher.

Ariel's family began a publishing house to honor the memory of their son. Rafi's family began a library to honor the memory of their son.

Both the publishing house and library specialize on "high quality fiction suitable for children with Torah values."

The Avrech's are invited to explore similarities
and differences as a way of dealing with our common grief for these two uncommon young men.

July 19, 2004 at 6:46 PM  

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