Sunday, June 30, 2002

Talking about Kabbalah last night, like you do, D pointed out that you can tell a lot about a person from their spelling of same. Kabbalah/Kabalah = probably someone Jewish. Quabalah = probably someone with occult connections. Cabbalah = probably a Christian.

That D has a lot of insight.

And of course there's the actual pronunciation. Jewish people tend to pronounce it kab-a-la (all short a's) - the traditional Hebrew pronunciation. Occultists seem to pronounce it ku-bar-lar (long a's), which they probably don't know is a Methodist pronounciation, based on the system developed by Brown Driver & Briggs in the 1920's.

I spent a fun hour trying to track down a copy Scholem's Kabbalah , Friday. I called all the Jewish bookstores first (as I live in North London), and was firmly told that the book was out of print. Even when I gave them the ISBN number and told them it was available on amazon, they were convincing in the way that only Jews in retail can be. (And let me tell you; if I make that joke in the spirit of self-determination, it's fine. If you're not Jewish, and you make it, it could be considered anti-semitic.)

So next, I call a bunch of occultists off Charing Cross Road. We had a couple of confusing moments on each call when I asked for ka-ba-la and they asked if i meant ku-bar-lar. But after the babel fish moment, we were on the same page, so to speak. Infinitely more helpful, but no one has the book in stock.

So I don't really know why I'm telling you this. Except to say that I can't find the book, and I need instant gratification, or at least delivery before Friday. When the recipient of the gift leaves.

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