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To Make the Hands ImpureArt, Ethical Adventure, the Difficult and the Holy$
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Adam Zachary Newton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263516

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263516.001.0001

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Laws of Tact and Genre

Laws of Tact and Genre

(p.24) (p.25) Introduction Laws of Tact and Genre
To Make the Hands Impure

Adam Zachary Newton

Fordham University Press

Sebald’s and Arad’s stagings of presence and absence, including the ethical remainder of illegible headstones and unrecorded victims’ names, represents one of several limit-cases for the questions of remembering, writing, and reading that the book explores and for which our attendance and agency as readers in each case become a necessary dimension. These are questions for secular text and for scripture alike, for both art and ethical adventure—whose practical effects, as the book’s title expresses one formula for the relationship between writing and human touch, make the hands impure. Known rabbinically as metamei et ha’yadayim (substantive, tum’at yadayim) that formula will be advanced in the introductory section, “Laws of Tact and Genre,” which samples analyses of the corporeal by Jean Luc Nancy, Jean-Louis Chrétien, and Jacques Derrida and opens the question of embodiment for the special situation of the book in hand.

Keywords:   Genre, Tact, Rabbinic, Joseph Soloveitchik, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida, Jan-Louis Chrétien, “tum’at yadayim”, Havana synagogue, Art, Ethical adventure

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