Torah is studied on four different levels: p'shat,
a simple, literal reading, remez,
the level of associations and metaphor or
what is hinted at in the text, drosh,
the level where other materials or texts
are brought in as commentary to illuminate
the story, and sod, the level of the
secret held in the material (Cooper, 1997).
One rabbi said that sod is the story
as if God whispered it in your ear.
realized that there are also four levels by which to approach the image when writing
a witness to it. In the Studio Process p'shat refers to description, what
do you see in front of you in the simplest terms? Just letting yourself see color,
shape and space without naming it beyond those attributes. Remez, we begin
to listen for tentative names, emotional aspects, personal associations, metaphors
and we begin to dialogue with the image. We try to stay open to multiple meanings
and come to no conclusions. To work on the level of drosh we continue to
engage in our dialogue so that the image tells us its own story but we may also
consult a dictionary, symbol book or other references material to deepen our understanding
and see what other contexts or cultures can add to our understanding. Some images
deliver us to the level of sod, where we experience
the "AHA!" when the
pieces of information form a sort of lightening bolt
that pierces our awareness or our heart, illuminating
a new truth, giving us the answer to the query posed
in our intention perhaps or redefining a concern
or problem in a new way.
for a long time to come to peace with the
fact that although I love Judaism and I respect
and admire other religious traditions, symbols
of many have appeared in my work such as
Kali, Kwan Yin, Jesus as well as women in
purdah, shamans and mendicant monks, I am,
finally, a transdenominational soul who,
through art and writing, travels to the place
where all truths and traditions exist in
peace and harmony, the place of which Rumi
says:" Beyond right and wrong there
is a field, I'll meet you there". This is what Pardes
is, not a physical place, but a state of being. The
Studio Process, alone or with others, creates a path
to the field. Try it, I'll meet you there.
Cooper, D. (1997) God is a verb. New York: Riverhead Books.
A. ( ). Godwrestling.