/ K. Symbols /
What’s so moving about the story of Ruth? Is it the King James diction? That’s half-English, half-alien. Is it Keats? That’s pure English, deep English, ancient, native: like the original human language.
Ruth to Naomi:
Whither thou goest, I will go;
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
thy people [shall be] my people,
and thy God my God.
(God here is like the dining room table, or like the master bed: inheritable, transferable.)
lots of editing needed, but no emergency
The Keats meant only a little bit to me in public school where we were forcefed. But after letting it stew for a couple of years, my dorm-neighbor Bob made reference to Ruth “amid alien corn”: and I was damn moved. All those years when they’re filling your head with sludge, never mind, you don’t know what seeds are sprouting, you don’t know where your deepest layers are being set. If fact that is the story of Ruth, is it not? she knew who her people were, and she was recalibrating, resetting.
Keats wasn’t the only one under our skin, there was Blake too!
Scrapbook scribble coming
I’ll tell you one reason the story works: it’s got girls in it! What a relief after all that male god and all that male Moses. (Mrs. Moses (and Moses Junior) tried to get established but they got pushed aside.) Christians, like Jews, had to read the Bible: they didn’t have to like it, they didn’t have to understand it … Understand it!? Who would test them?
The Book of Ruth is about cultural disruptions. They’re constant, they’re everywhere; but 2500 years ago was a big disruption: Babylonians pushing Jews around like WASPs pushing Cheyennes.
Natives weren’t alone getting stolen from: never forget Sutter’s Mill, Sutter’s gold, Sutter’s Sacramento Valley.
Jewish identity is very much at stake here: for all that male history, male theology, Jews actually identify themselves through women! Never mind the geneaolgy from Noah to Abraham to David to Jesus: you’re a Jew if your mother was a Jew! Jesus comes from Abraham, but he also comes from Ruth: a foreigner.
Anyway, I’ve got Ruth on my mind because I recently met a Ruth: an attractive, very much younger, woman. Maybe I’ll tell a bit about trying to get acquainted with that Ruth.