By Asher D. Biemann

Dreaming of Michelangelo is the 1st book-length learn to discover the highbrow and cultural affinities among glossy Judaism and the existence and paintings of Michelangelo Buonarroti. It argues that Jewish intellectuals stumbled on themselves within the picture of Michelangelo as an "unrequited lover" whose paintings expressed loneliness and a eager for humanity's reaction. the trendy Jewish mind's eye therefore grew to become consciously idolatrous. Writers dropped at life—literally—Michelangelo's sculptures, seeing in them their very own worldly and emotional struggles. The Moses statue particularly grew to become an archetype of Jewish liberation politics in addition to a principal concentration of Jewish aesthetics. And such affinities prolonged past sculpture: Jewish viewers to the Sistine Chapel reinterpreted the ceiling as a manifesto of prophetic socialism, with out its Christian components. based on Biemann, the phenomenon of Jewish self-recognition in Michelangelo's paintings provided an alternative choice to the failed supplies of the German enlightenment. via this unforeseen discovery, he rethinks German Jewish background and its connections to Italy, the Mediterranean, and the paintings of the Renaissance.

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In fact, if there is any theme that binds together the tradition of German Rome neuroses it is the theme of Rome neurosis:  The Unrequited Eros a burning childhood dream, a purgatorial crossing of the Alps, and a reluctance to enter what is frequently imagined as an otherworldly sacred space. ”148 Speaking from a far more prosaic angle, Gombrich notes that to most Viennese art lovers— and Freud, despite his questionable taste in art, was certainly one of them—“Rome seemed very far away compared to Venice or even Florence.

158 A peculiar fantasy animates the city to a site of simultaneous events, buildings, people, and streets, to a single Now, where everything and everyone has a place without displacing the other. Rome, in Freud’s fantasy, becomes the site and symbol of eternal, imperishable coexistence as it exists, of course, only in the mind. Or perhaps not only in the mind. Three decades before Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, Georg Simmel, himself a devout Jewish pilgrim to Italy, insisted that this coexistence was not only imaginary or symbolic, but that it was a reality present in the aesthetic appearance of the city and realized through the city’s own aesthetic agency.

For in the world of Eros there is neither assimilation nor a clear sense of cultural boundary. There is only desire that opens up. But this desire need not be mutual and should not betray the fact that coconstitution rarely occurs as a symmetrical act. As sentimental as Scholem’s image of the unrequited lover seems to be, it hauntingly preserves the possibility of a love constituting no more than the lover, while leaving the beloved unharmed. “See to it I do not return to me” is the lover’s call that rebounds from the beloved’s will to be the same.

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