KIM HAINES-EITZEN: Hi, everyone. I'm Kim Haines-Eitzen. I'm here in the Department of Near East Studies. And I'm delighted to respond to-- introduce and then respond to James' talk. So those of you who see the poster know that we had a last minute change, fairly last minute since Monday, and Charlotta [INAUDIBLE] couldn't be here. And James Redfield very kindly agreed to stand in, reading his own paper.
So James is from Stanford University's Humanities Center. And the title of his talk is "Scripting Ethnographic Authority in the Bavli's Arrival Scenes."
JAMES REDFIELD: Thank you so much for the introduction and for responding later on, and for explaining why I'm here instead of Charlotta [INAUDIBLE]. I've studied under for several years. And it is now a great pleasure to be able to understudy for her. Now you're going to be wondering in a second, so I'll answer the question right away, how did a piece from the California Fringe Festival make its way to Broadway, east or otherwise?
And I would just explain that because it was a relatively short notice, I am going to be reading an article which is forthcoming in the fall in Jewish Social Studies. So the nature of my performance will be somewhat different. I'm going to have to read from the text and then ad lib. I hope to divert you with the ad libbing enough that we will make it through the written part.
Further, I should say that this paper's already known in some form or other to many people, and that all of the people on the conference program's work figures in the paper at some point. So the third wall is down in this performance. And that's a good thing. I was going to say that it's a shame I can't present it in the anthropology building like yesterday, but I do happen to have Vito's tradition in the formation of the Talmud on my bookshelf right next to Nabokov's "Pale Fire," so perhaps this building is even better for that.
And with all of that, I will begin. The arrival scene where an ethnographer describes her first contact with the field has long been recognized as a generic convention which frames the narrative and introduces a certain authorial persona, mirroring shifts in how modern ethnographers have scripted their authority. A heroic figure like Malinowski once arrived on a desert island, alone on a tropical beach close to a native village, while the launch or dinghy which has brought him sails away out of sight.
Or like Raymond Firth on a conquering ship in the cool of the early morning just before sunrise. But more recently, ethnographers started to arrive, like Marjorie Shostak in the dead of night, pitching their tents at the desolate site of previous ethnographers, whose ghosts will soon haunt their relations to the locals. Arguably, such subversions of the arrival scene convention were set in motion by Claude Levi-Strauss, whose exquisitely literary autobiography, Tristes Tropiques, begins with the line, "I hate journeys and explorers," in a chapter entitled "Departure."
This hero or antihero arrives not once but a few times in the field via fragmentary sunsets and farcical detours, only to finally begin his intrepid journey to the Amazonian interior after about 200 pages not with a bang, but with a simper. Quote, "Campers camp along the piranha. Actually, don't. Hold back. Save your litter, your canteens, and your punctured cans for the last sights in Europe."
Since Levi-Strauss set this trope rolling, the arrival scene has grown ever more ironic, as newspaper articles and TV shows replace colonial sites of first contact with the local population. For better and for worse, today's ethnographers are more attuned than ever to how they represent their authority, whether to subvert it, exploit it, or usually both. The exotic field and domestic desktop are not discrete but layered planes of cultural knowledge production. And the ethnographer has become her own reader along well charted lines of self reflection unparalleled in any discipline.
Readers' expectations inform ethnographers' authority, not just vise versa, revealing, in turn, how much they always did. At this apex or nadir of ethnographic self-criticism, what difference would it make, if any, for an ethnographer to arrive in a transparently textualized landscape? Would such an arrival scene, aware of its artifice, reflect a more critical ethnographic style where the field is visibly preordered, not exotic, mediated, not only experienced? A field whose natives know that they, too, are players in its ongoing knowledge production?
In all this, we have reason to hope for the Babylonian Talmud to anticipate today's critics, for it often casts its travelers not as heroes like Malinowski or Firth, but as merely the latest in an ancient serial of ironic arrivals. And with that, I would refer you to your handout first-- the first text. I'll read it in Aramaic first with a sense of the voicing, and then in English.
So you already hear in the original, I hope, a bit of the voicing. You can tell it's an agnostic exchange, that there is a certain moment of incredulity. In the English, that will come through. When [INAUDIBLE] Avi, and I'll explain that variant later, went up to Palestine, he said, "May it be the will of God for me to make a statement, a legal statement, that will be accepted."
When he went up there, he found [NON-ENGLISH] but some say it was [NON-ENGLISH] and they were saying, why? Let the water and salt be nullified with respect to the dough. Totally in congress within this framing of the story. We'll get to that, too. He said to them, now, if one measure of a man's week gets mixed up with 10 measures of his fellow's week, should the former-- no, the latter, excuse me-- should the latter eat and be merry? They laughed at him. He said to them, have I taken away your cloaks? They laughed at him again.
So in a sense, this is a self-contained one act. To make sense of it, we're going to look at a broader view of it and how it fits into the scene as a whole. But what I want to emphasize here is that even just looking at the unit as we have it and using some of the commentators to kind of flesh out the inner thoughts of the protagonists and some of the motivations, we get a feel for what one arrival scene in the Talmud can look like.
And indeed, it bears many of the hallmarks of a kind of ironic, postmodern ethnography. The protagonist, [NON-ENGLISH], one of the most active Talmudic travelers, or [NON-ENGLISH], literally those who go down to the diaspora, who are said to have circulated teachings between the Palestinian and Babylonian academies in the late third and early fourth centuries.
[NON-ENGLISH] opts to go up to the Holy Land. As Rashi suggests, he carries new cultural data, [NON-ENGLISH], a term we've already talked about, or [NON-ENGLISH], an oral teaching that he plans to offer almost sacramentally to his Palestinian colleagues. As he prepares, perhaps before setting out, perhaps on the way, he prays that one of these traditions be found acceptable in the Palestinian sight.
Most of all, Rashi insists, he fears shame-- the shame of not being admitted into their conversation. We hear nothing of his journey. And I think this is an interesting point commonly observed in Talmudic depictions of travel. There is kind of a telescoping or wormhole effect between the two centers. There are a few stories where you hear about an itinerary, but very often it just-- [NON-ENGLISH]-- when he went up, which has the impression of drawing the spaces closer together.
So he arrives and he finds his colleagues sitting on the ground studying a law of oral Torah. They're debating a mishnah that's already been introduced previously. They wear their ritual fringes tucked under long cloaks, the cloaks to which he will soon refer, something like monk's habits. And again, we can infer this from other sources.
Nervously, no doubt, [NON-ENGLISH] finally opens his mouth. He cites a hypothetical case and tries to relate it to the legal problem that the Palestinians have been debating. But rather than accept his words, as he prayed, they laugh at him. Worse, he's too thick to understand their laughter. As Rashi says, when he says, have I taken away your cloaks? It just means, sure I've done nothing ridiculous. And so he tries to perhaps parry it with his own sort of feeble joke. We might take this taking away your cloaks as, have I dismantled your argument or something of that sort, his own kind of fun.
And in fact, if you look at the word [NON-ENGLISH], cloak there, it marks him as Babylonian because the underlying derivation of [NON-ENGLISH] is different in the two dialects. And only in the Babylonian dialect is there a kind of a back formation on the emphatic [NON-ENGLISH] in Aramaic, which became part of the noun itself. So that is a moment where he is very audibly speaking.
And that's why I think [NON-ENGLISH] is a better reading here, because [NON-ENGLISH] has strong Babylonian background. There is a manuscript which reads [NON-ENGLISH]. There's also counter evidence, but we can get into that some other time. So then the Talmud, the anonymous Talmud, delivers the punchline. They laughed at him again.
But it's very hard for us to get the joke. The laughter by definition is somewhat inchoate. So a modern authority, the [NON-ENGLISH], chimes in. It seems to me that we could adduce a great deal from this story, but it is not proper-- [NON-ENGLISH]-- to act in this way. And then the [NON-ENGLISH] quotes the Talmud, do things for the sake of their maker and speak of them for their own sake, but do not make of them a crown for self aggrandizement, et cetera, et cetera.
That's one reading. And the rest, as they say, is commentary. But the enigmatic laughter echoes. And as it does, we learn to hear this Babylonian travelers arrival scene not as a conquest of the exotic field but as a botched thesis defense. Its would-be anthropologist has been taught that the authority of the academy, not that of the field, ultimately qualifies as data as cultural knowledge, as we hope the textuality of the arrival stresses such tensions.
Texts, oral in this case, expose, assert, ridicule, and record authority, not just from the field to the academy, but in circulation between them. Talmudic culture is bursting at its seams. Given a need then for more substantive collaboration between anthropologists and Talmudists, comparison of figures like this one, of the [NON-ENGLISH], the travelers, to modern and other academic ethnographers is certainly promising. Let's just talk about a few of the typological similarities.
Again, both belong to contentious scholarly communities and address themselves to specific constituencies within those communities. Both collect and convey privileged information by circulating between linked centers of knowledge production. Both of their data sets come from elicitation, oral reports, participant observation and representative events-- [NON-ENGLISH], case, and less typically from written documents.
Also in the case of [NON-ENGLISH], there are instances-- [NON-ENGLISH] sent in his epistle from one region to the other, et cetera. Now, the ethnographers themselves may process all of this cultural data in terms of written field notes, oral recitation, or other media, but eventually it is ratified orally by their colleagues in things like a conference presentation or a thesis defense. And eventually it is codified in some kind of written form, a book.
Therefore, comparing these figures from the moment of their arrival in the field to much later debates about their data, its legitimacy, and its inscription should theoretically help us to pinpoint shared problems of mobility, orality, writing, and the authorization of cultural knowledge. So in the next part of this talk, what I'm going to do is introduce a strong tradition of thinking about this overlapping problem space which has emerged within the discipline of cultural anthropology since the publication of the seminal volume, Writing Culture in 1986-- a tradition which focuses, however, much more on the penultimate written stage of authorization.
So the point of this section is to establish the problem space within anthropology where this comparison might be able to take hold. And then we'll move to analysis of some Talmudic material. The writing lesson, Levi-Strauss' tale in Tristes Tropiques peak of a sojourn among the Amazonian [NON-ENGLISH] has become a sort of parable for the problem of ethnographic writing.
It has three parts. First, the illiterate [NON-ENGLISH] observe the ethnographer making field notes and begin to imitate him by making wavy, horizontal lines on the paper. Second, their chief, Only He without a doubt had grasped what writing was for, assembles them to perform a demonstration of his power. He writes his own signs and then reads aloud the items that will be given to his people by the ethnographer. He makes the marks and then he reads them and says, and the ethnographer will give us a satchel.
Now, the ethnographer finally, who had planned to give these items to the chief anyway, but is now complicit in his scheme, does precisely as directed. Levi-Strauss tells us he had forged an alliance with the white man and could now share in his secrets. The parable is followed on the ethnographer's side by a bad night's sleep and commentary on the evolution of writing as a tool of domination, whose intellectual uses may even be just a way to reinforce, justify, or conceal its primary function.
By introducing writing to an oral society, the ethnographer has added a symbolic dimension of power. Now, Derrida's critique of this, as Jonathan already alluded to, is that ontologically, the written, oral distinction is not necessarily salient here, that in fact, we can't really think about orality as the origin of writing. And so in a sense, the ethnographer has added nothing. Writing was already present in this society.
I'll skip over the details of that. But the relevant point here is that in writing culture, Jim Clifford used Derrida's critique of the writing lesson and applied it directly to the practice of ethnography, the practices by which ethnographic texts themselves are generated. And Clifford described and critiqued classical ethnography as an irreversible transition from orality to writing.
So ethnographic data are collected in these face-to-face interactions. But they don't qualify as knowledge until they're inscribed in a text. This text is a translation in multiple dimensions, but it still requires, somehow, that the data be attributed to the native informants. So the ethnographer has to substitute or create a kind of [NON-ENGLISH] authority figure within the text, which will simultaneously defer and appropriate the authority of the informants, in the form of the [NON-ENGLISH] believe that, or the native point of view on this is. There are various constructs whereby a mediating figure is generated in the ethnographic text.
This critique was directed largely against Clifford Geertz model for cultural interpretation, which privileged text as a cultural metaphor-- that is to say, that as Geertz famously defined culture, it is an ensemble of texts which we are reading over the shoulders of the native culture. We are simply collecting the various interpretations and placing them on the same plane and embodying the native point of view in our own texts.
But Clifford is saying, who writes the text? And how is this text written such that the native point of view can become represented in a particular way? In other words, for Geertz, the ethnographer is just an emissary who collects oral traditions and does not modify them. But as we've already seen in a Talmudic example, the layers of documentation and critique, inscription, are foregrounded in the text itself. And ethnographic texts, as with the arrival scene convention, do the very same-- do the very same thing.
So in response to Clifford's critique, there was an evolution within ethnographic writing to the genre of dialogic ethnography. And what I'm going to propose at this point in the argument is that dialogic ethnography provides us with a kind of crossing point or way station between the disciplines of Talmudic philology and ethnography, because it is a genre of knowledge production and representation in which these two apparently very disparate fields actually can speak to each other analytically, can actually read their own texts using and adapting some of the conceptual tools of the other field.
So first thing I'm going to do is talk about three representative examples of dialogic ethnographies and compare them to how three redaction critics, contemporary redaction critics of the Babylonian Talmud, think about the composition of the Talmud and specifically about the role of the [NON-ENGLISH] or anonymous voice within a Talmudic argument.
What distinguishes dialogic ethnography as a genre first and foremost is that the author gives more airtime to her oral sources and marks her own presence in the text more clearly. So the voice becomes a vehicle for accentuating dynamics of authority within the ethnographic representation. In this genre, the ethnography--
JAMES REDFIELD: Oh, wonderful, wonderful. Yes. It's the return of the written text. Yeah, the repressed, or at least impressed. Not depressed, I hope.
JAMES REDFIELD: Ah, well [NON-ENGLISH]. So in dialogic-- in dialogic ethnography, the voice becomes-- the voice of the informant becomes a vehicle for accentuating dynamics of authority within the literary representation, right? In this genre, the ethnographer works more as a composer of texts than as a harmonizing author. The use of a dialogic genre in itself, however, does not predict how any given author will deal with his or her authority. Some dialogues are much more dialogic than others.
And we're going to be exploring in the rest of the analysis a spectrum of dialogism and what I'll discuss as reflexivity in terms of how this problem is treated within the text. So the author may simulate receptivity to other voices or invent proxies for herself among the characters in the form of key informants. Many ethnographies have the key informant who really knows what's going on.
But at least it signals something. At least the genre signals something about the author's role. And I think that's sufficient to begin thinking about this comparatively. So the three representative examples of dialogic ethnography, the first I nominate would be Paul Rabinow's Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, a seminal very early example in which the young Paul Rabinow stars as an ethnographer miserably sensitive to every banality of his adventure.
By the end, after an absurd death, a night with a prostitute, and a lot of awkward male bonding, both he and his Moroccan informant seemed so self-absorbed that the very possibility of dialogue has become an existential enigma, not just a methodological one. And that's a very deliberate strategy, of course. The narrator retains a firm grip on the text and he ends on a wistful note about ethnography as a means of reflection and a process of change. But it remains unclear why he has gone so far or endured so much for that.
At the other end of the spectrum, another early dialogic ethnography from Morocco-- Vince [INAUDIBLE] has a third one, which is relevant here, too, by Kevin Dwyer, is composed of tape recorded conversations with a single illiterate informant that have been transcribed and very lightly annotated with obvious editing and little obvious editing at the same time.
So here the voice of the informant is brought out as fully as possible beyond a raw transcript, although I would argue there is no such thing as a raw transcript, while even the places where the author's influence, where it does come through, actually bolster the distinct authority of the informant. So the ethnographer is very much subordinated to the informant.
And then finally, we have the example of Jim Fabian's more recent 2001 Shadows and Lights of Waco, which is also based on interviews with a single informant, a member of the Waco group, surviving member, where he sets off his voice as the ethnographer in italics from her voice in plain type-- other way around. She's in italics. He's in plain type. And he juxtaposes her words with erudite reflections of his own, so neither visibly controlling a text as an author qua Rabinow, nor subordinating himself to the other qua Dwyer.
And arguably, while more monologic can form, this text is somewhat more dialogic in content because the informant comes through us as an interlocutor theoretically in her own right. This reminds me very much of the mishnah [NON-ENGLISH] where you have these weavers from the dung gate of Jerusalem whom the sages bring into court and they-- even the weavers can deliver a legal tradition, which is considered to be binding. It's this trope of taking them seriously, which comes up a great deal in discussions of ethnography.
So I think we're about at the halfway point, am I right? Good. Now, having established an argument for a comparison between dialogic ethnography and the bodily, let's turn to looking at certain theories of the [NON-ENGLISH] redaction. Earlier scholars, as we discussed already, had seen the [NON-ENGLISH] as a less artful accumulation of material, minimizing the role of its latest sages, who traditionally were called sort of [NON-ENGLISH] or speculators, to stray glosses and sort of reordering, and drawing no clear chronological line between attributed sources-- you know, [NON-ENGLISH]-- and anonymous voice, the we which permeates the conversations.
By contrast, the [NON-ENGLISH] hypothesis advanced by David Weiss [INAUDIBLE], Shamma Friedman, and others in this room, and developed in various ways, explained how the anonymous voice integrates the arguments and ties them together into a coherent unit, which sort of tips the hand of author redactors amidst this inherited mass of attributed material.
In a new and bold extension of the hypothesis, Jeffrey Rubinstein and the culture of the Babylonian Talmud argued that the role of this [NON-ENGLISH], the anonymous voice in the [NON-ENGLISH], can be correlated with the culture of the author redactor. So there are actually cultural themes which emerge from how the anonymous voice intervenes in these arguments, themes like we've already seen-- shame, violence, elitism, features of the academic hierarchy.
Now, debates go on about the so-called academic context in which the works are generated about the dating and homogeneity of the anonymous material, about the reliability of attributions to begin with, and many other very important issues which really need to be fought out on a case-by-case basis.
But beyond these empirical issues, and more relevant for us, the stam hypothesis has raised theoretical issues with real interpretive consequences. What sort of voice is the stam? How is it related to, on the one hand, the redactor's culture, and on the other, that of their informants, sages from the [NON-ENGLISH]-- the earliest intermediate periods.
Not to mention these floating oral traditions, or [NON-ENGLISH]. How can we assess the interplay between the Bavli's dialogue form-- has the literary form of a dialogue-- and its dialectical structure of thought, in which synthesis is very often achieved, if only to be challenged or undone again? In short, how does dialogue relate to the literary role of the author redactors of the [NON-ENGLISH]? These questions call for a stronger comparison then, not just between ethnographers and the [NON-ENGLISH], found inside the text, but between the dialogic ethnographers and reactors of the text? And that is the comparison that I'm going to be arguing for in my analysis of the Talmudic material.
For each ethnographic author that we've encountered so far, scholars have offered a corresponding portrait of the stam as a reactor of Bavli dialogues. So for Friedman, for Shamma Friedman, it is more like a Geertz, hiding in plain sight beneath the convention of anonymity like a name on the book jacket, and authored as seen once and never heard from again, yet shadowed by the narrator or the mediator of [NON-ENGLISH].
Friedman uses the term [NON-ENGLISH], corrections of the scribes, the idea that the stam is improving, cleaning up, harmonizing material, similar to Geertz. The native point of view, it's a synthetic treatment of multiple traditions which are brought together in a portrait of Balinese culture or of the Balinese.
However, an alternative perspective has also emerged which develops the insight that the dialogues are not necessarily what we would call dialogic. And here, a common reference point of both Talmudic critics and ethnographic critics is the platonic dialogue. And it's even used to fairly similar ends. So Daniel Boyarin in Socrates and the Fat Rabbis, as we were also discussing, describes the Bavli as a monologic dialogue.
He talks about three strategies in particular, and I would say a lot of the utility of his argument is precisely in trying to differentiate monologism within the Bavli. And I'd like to see that tended to more kind of in the reception of that book, because he really does have a case that he makes there about what he calls dialectic harmonization and appropriation, all of which are different forms of monologizing dialogue that the stam undergoes.
So Boyarin is kind of the Rabinow of a Talmudic redation criticism. He reads the stam as a minimally dialogic voice, one which is just dialogic enough to kind of wink that it's really very much in control. On the other side of the spectrum, [INAUDIBLE] Vitus has emphasized how the gap between the stam and its sources is itself a constructive feature of the Bavli's archer tectonics.
So rather than assume that the stam is necessarily a late later which is superimposed on the received [NON-ENGLISH] dicta, Vitus shows that in some cases, the very distinction between anonymous and attributed is part of the literary production, is part of the literary design. And his case is strengthened by comparison to parallel [NON-ENGLISH] in the previous Talmud, where the very same arguments will be attributed or anonymous. The positions or roles can shift around more fluidly than a straightforward, chronological argument would assume.
Similarly Vitus suggests, and Septimis develops this a great deal in his dissertation that-- and his, I take it, forthcoming manuscript-- that the stam voice may have been used in oral performative context, as well, to distinguish the performer from the script. So the stam, the anonymous, rather than simply harmonizing or veiling distinctions within the [NON-ENGLISH], actually is a performative device where there is a soliloquy or a sort of sotto voce aside commenting on the performance itself.
And now we're going to say this. Now we're going to do this. The ringmaster, as they said. So in Vitus' version of the stam, we're looking at more of the other end of the dialogic spectrum, something like Jim Fabian, where Jim Fabian will use the line between italics and plain type, between the informant and his own voice, to assimilate his informant's theories, but also to sort of dance circles around them. So there is a kind of virtuosity even to the dialogization of the text.
So I would note that my own text, my own written text, has a performative moment here in the form of an extremely long footnote, which ends with a Hebrew abbreviation [NON-ENGLISH]. And here there is no space for expanding on the matter. The footnote basically attacks the view that [NON-ENGLISH] conflated dialogism with liberation or emancipation, and that for [NON-ENGLISH], in some sense, dialogue implies freedom from authorial domination.
And I try to show by going through all of [NON-ENGLISH] works many places in which that does not hold. So my own appropriation of [NON-ENGLISH], like Boyarin's, is not to be taken as part of that tradition. OK, with the time that remains, rather than delve too deeply into the case studies which you have here in the form of your handout, I'm going to introduce one final concept, which I think will help us to read these case studies within the framework that I'm talking about, very much not presupposing that they will in any sense prove my argument, but rather that the comparison will make more sense if we have this concept in hand.
And then I will briefly say what I see in the case studies and open it up for as long a discussion as possible so that other people can tell me if they think it's applicable. OK? All right. Everyone seems to be on board. And this concept that I think really helps us to sort out the relationship between dialogic ethnography and the Bavli is a concept for basically distinguishing this gradation or the spectrum of dialogism.
How dialogic is the dialogue? What is the role of the author redactor vis-a-vis the informants, vis-a-vis the voice in the text? I'm calling this reflexivity in an anthropological tradition of theory on reflexivity, which has-- I would divide it into three sub-concepts. The first one is transparency. So a reflexive text incorporates not just two, but three parties into the cultural analysis-- the observer, the ethnographer, the observed, the informant, but also the audience. The reception of the text, the reception of the production, is already embedded in the production, which I wouldn't say ensures, that's-- I'm going to weaken my own language there. It predisposes the work to display how it is shaped by various external constraints the field of the academy, the field of research itself, but also the market of goods and ideas, the institutional spheres where ethnographers operate, et cetera.
And as part of transparency, there is a dimension of recursivity. That is, there is a potential for a more active role of the audience and the observed in the production of the text. A great example we were discussing yesterday is [INAUDIBLE] study of Moroccan saints, where [INAUDIBLE] studies Moroccan-- a cult of saints in Morocco. And because of his book, in part, there is a revival of the cult and people want to go on TV and bring the ethnographer up there with them to authenticate their tradition.
So this is a very fascinating dimension of ethnographic knowledge production, you know, which is really one of the things I think still makes ethnography so important. The second aspect of reflexivity is choreography. So a reflexive ethnography does not just reflect. So there's a distinction drawn between reflexive and reflective. It does not just reflect on itself, but it also signals its own techniques of representation.
So this can make it more amenable to modes of critique and reformation, in part, by locating it more clearly among other ways of thinking about the same thing, right? So by-- this I would call choreography. So in the sense that-- by showing that certain positions are arranged on the board in a certain way rather than another, it allows for a replay of the same positions differently.
Third, the boundaries of reflexive work do not overlap neatly with its given analytic frame, right? So this is actually convention in the writing of modern ethnography. I went to the field to learn about kinship relations in this village, and what I discovered was a transnational corporation which had transformed the religion, right? It's become almost de rigueur in recent work to have an excessive dimension to the ethnographic text.
And we see this also in the form of the text itself. So rather than bracketing the ethnography with a preface and an epilogue, this is what I'm going to find, this is what I found out, or even as was very commonly done, bifurcating the ethnographic process into two separate genres. So this is my scientific field study, which Paul Rabinow also wrote, and this is my personal autobiography about my complicated emotional life.
Now those two genres are increasingly merged into one. So again, transparency, choreography, recursivity, which is sort of a sub dimension of that, and an excess are all features of reflexivity as I'm defining it. And with this notion at hand, we can finally, as I conclude, turn to the Talmudic material. And we can ask ourselves questions, as I say, where the texts of each tradition can actually speak to one another by adopting the analytic tools and concepts of the other tradition.
How do the dialogues in the Talmud draw lines between the players on the stage? How does this staging both reflect and transform the role of the composers, the role of the stam and the role of the hand, which has placed these pieces in relationship? Specifically in the case of the [NON-ENGLISH], again, this argument is limited to a study of the arrival scenes of the [NON-ENGLISH] in Palestine and Babylonia, and particularly in Babylonia in the material I've presented here.
When they arrive, how do these arrivals relate to the author reactor's role in constructing the text, right? Do they support the stom or the composition as a whole? Do they critique certain elements? And how does the voice of the informant-- how is it mobilized within the larger argument? So we can examine how the redactor is used, the dialogue forum, to assimilate dicta and arrivals into larger units. And we can also mark places where this assimilation is interrupted or discordant in some way, where it's transparent in a reflexive sense.
So turn to the handout, if you would. And as I say, for me, the priority here, given the pragmatic framing-- every game, as we know, has a beginning and an end, and it takes place for a limited period of time. To be given a pragmatic framing, my point was to present the framework, the analytic framework, and hope that we will kick around the [NON-ENGLISH] as people see fit.
I will just tell you how I treat in the paper these three examples. There are other examples I won't get to. But the examples I'm talking about are basically 1, 2, which is basically the same, and then 4, and then 5. So I would argue that 1, 2 is the minimally reflexive example. 2 is-- 4 is kind of moderate. And 5 is more.
So I'm just going reduce it to a quantitative distinction. So what do I mean by minimally? In one two-- in two, basically, which is the long version-- there are various pieces of the argument and they are set off from each other pretty clearly. There's not any ventriloquism-- that is to say, the anonymous voice doesn't meld itself, really, with the characters.
You have a unit, which is an anonymous discussion of the mishna, that is carried over. Then you have the story which is, as I said, a one act kind of self-contained unit. Then you have a later Babylonian discussion of the story and the anonymous voice. There is an argument to be made in that last part, so that's subsection 4, within number 2 on your handout, there's an argument to be made there, and I'd like to try to hash that out, that the anonymous voice is kind of ventriloquizing, or at least splicing in previous attributed dicta into the conversation to kind of conceal how top heavy with the anonymous material it is.
So there's a little bit-- that's why I say it's reflexive at all, right? [INAUDIBLE] slightly reflexive because there's the potential that you can at least argue that the people who composed it are winking that they're composing it. So that would be the Rabinow example of, I'm ironically dialogic. I'm dialogizing what's basically me talking to myself by putting this other voice in there, but the other voice isn't really doing anything. It's not really there, in a certain way.
And that reconstruction has to be fought out philologically and is speculative. The next case I'm calling moderate. This is number four. Because here I really do think there is an example of ventriloquism, where the anonymous voice melds its voice with the voice of one of the [NON-ENGLISH], one of the named characters. And I see that in the line right in the middle there-- perhaps you are talking about the ascents and descents in the land of Israel only.
OK. So what happens is the people who compose this text seem to have had two contradictory arrival scenes, in which these [NON-ENGLISH] brought traditions about the view of a previous authority which contradict one another. And they had to deal with that somehow. So I think the way they dealt with that is by introducing them-- by basically putting them side by side and then in the middle saying, oh, but perhaps what you really meant is-- right? And then bringing the solution in the form of a second arrival, which solves the problem.
But the way that they frame it in the [NON-ENGLISH], it sounds like the [NON-ENGLISH] is saying it. In other words, it sounds like that he came up with the idea. There's no obvious terminological or stylistic break there. So in that sense, it's moderately foregrounding or signaling the intervention. And then finally, the more complicated case, number five, is really-- is basic-- is, I mean, several folia, for one thing. It's actually two [NON-ENGLISH].
The complexity there is that the second [NON-ENGLISH] refers back to the first [NON-ENGLISH]. But when it refers back to something that was said anonymously in the first [NON-ENGLISH] and it says, but haven't we already said this? It actually overturns the positions so that what was a solution in the first [NON-ENGLISH] is now a difficulty in the second [NON-ENGLISH].
And it's too difficult, to-- and we don't have time to go into all of that, although again, I'd love to. But my take on that is that that in itself is this reflexive feature because it's signaling the anonymity and the problematization of the argument. But also, you notice at the bottom, the last line is [NON-ENGLISH] said to [NON-ENGLISH], who were the two earlier figures, the two Palestinians in [NON-ENGLISH], whose views were the ostensible subject of the whole debate, are now allowed to have an argument about what the argument was already about before.
So it's a recursive aspect where basically the argument now recirculates back to the natives or to the field and they're allowed to have effectively the same conversation, which begs the question, well, why didn't you just introduce this before? Especially because the style of that discussion is not so and so said that [NON-ENGLISH] said, so and so said that [NON-ENGLISH] said, but it's almost like a script where these names are put on there.
It has the feel of an anonymous section with these two named authorities carrying on the same conversation. It's really-- that one really kind of hits you in the face with how performative the relationship between the informants and the author redactors is. So with that, I will not so much try to summarize as to simply conclude and throw myself on your mercy for further discussion. Thank you.
KIM HAINES-EITZEN: So thanks so much for such an interesting paper. I really wish I'd had more time with it. I'm going to make-- you'll see that where I got stuck or where I got drawn in, depending on how you look at it, was with the idea of the arrival scene. And so I wanted to unpack a little bit more about that. And then I have a series of questions about that.
Arrival scenes are rich, cinematic wonders. The suspense and expectation, an in-betweenness that is about to end, a transition from becoming to came, all the preparations, the packing, the careful dressing, the rush towards departure, come down to this moment. The body is in motion again, perhaps with some degree of stiffness from the journey.
The instant of seeing, seeing again if the arrival is actually a return or seeing for the first time, as suggested by the ethnographer's arrival scene. The sounds of jubilation and laughter and the touch of kisses and hugs, or perhaps the taste of tears, of sorrow, regret, or loss, we will need some context to make sense of the performance.
The scene must be set for the ephemeral show to work. Let's take a familiar one, the stage of the arrivals terminal. The echo of suitcases along corridors of tiling glass, the loudspeaker calling out gate changes and delays, the smell of coffee, Cinnabuns and pizza, duty free perfumes, a cacophony of conversations and fleeting exchanges provide a backdrop for the main stage of arrival.
The whole scene is one of sensational affect and potency. What makes this scene work so well? Actually, before I get to that, let me give you another one that I was thinking about from what I'm working on now. A 4th century-- I'll give you an arrival scene from 4th century Jerome's life of Paul the hermit. Now, the story for this narrative is basically Antony, who goes off into the desert in search of Paul, the first hermit, because he's heard about him. And it's a very-- it's a dramatic telling of the story.
And I'll only give you-- I'll just give you the one section about the arrival scene. "Antony traversed the region on which he had entered, seeing only the traces of wild beasts and the wide waste of the desert. What to do, whither to wend his way, he knew not. Another day had now passed. One thing alone was left him-- his confident belief that he could not be forsaken by Christ. The darkness of the second night he wore away in prayer.
While it was still twilight, he saw not far away a she wolf gasping with perching thirst and creeping to the foot of the mountain. He followed it with his eyes, and after the beast had disappeared in a cave, he drew near and began to look within. His curiosity profited nothing. The darkness hindered vision. But as the scripture says, perfect love casts out fear.
With halting step and baited breath, he entered. Carefully feeling his way, he advanced little by little, and repeatedly listened for the sound. At length, through the fearful midnight darkness-- I'm assuming this is the sound of the she wolf gasping for breath-- or out of thirst-- at length through the fearful midnight darkness, a light appeared in the distance. In his eager haste, he struck his foot against a stone and aroused the echoes, whereupon the blessed Paul closed the open door and made it fast with a bar.
Then Antony sank to the ground. At the entrance, and until the sixth hour or later, craved admission, saying, who I am, whence, and why I have come, you know. I know I am not worthy to look upon you, yet unless I see you, I will not go away. You welcome beasts, why not a man?
I asked and I have found. I knocked that it may be open to me. But if I do not succeed, I will die here on your threshold. You will surely bury me when I'm dead." Then there's a quotation from Virgil here. "Such was his constant cry, unmoved he stood, to whom the hero thus brief answer made." So now Paul speaks in response.
"Prayers like these do not mean threats. There is no trickery in tears. Are you surprised at my not welcoming you when you have come here to die? Thus with smiles Paul gave him access, and the door being opened, they threw themselves into each other's arms, greeted one another by name, and joined in Thanksgiving to God. And after the sacred kiss, Paul sat down and thus began to address Antony."
And then the story continues on. So there are many elements to this kind of a dramatic story, bringing us back to the themes of performance, that are really intriguing to me. So I wanted to just bring a little bit of that out and then ask in relationship to the passages that you have from the Bavli whether there's a kind of residence here. What makes these kinds of scenes work so well? It's not just the dramatic anticipation or how well the dialogue is crafted or the arc of departure and arrival. It's also the assemblage of things, or to use Jane Bennett's phrase, vibrant matter.
The efficacy of objects, that's also her phrase, exceeds and thwarts notions of human agency, and perhaps also the Talmudic author reactor. Why do things matter and how do they matter? These are the sorts of questions raised also by my colleague Lori Khatchadourian's recent book, Imperial Matter, which takes seriously the "detritus of empire" in thinking beyond the human.
Can we animate the world of objects, the work that things do, and the way they do them in particular places-- Babylonia, Palestine, the Pompidou Center, the found object in the courtyard, the eruv, had Charlotta had been here, but it also came up this morning. Sufficiently, can we animate these objects sufficiently so that they can perform on the main stage?
I'm also thinking here of the anthropologist Eduardo Kohn's magnificent book-- at least to me, it's a very compelling book-- How Forests Think, which in part is about how images, signs, and icons-- things-- and human relations with these non-human things-- animals, forests, spirits-- how this works. The arrival scene for the anthropologist and the Talmud is also, in the end, deeply relational, and sorting out the entanglements not just between sages but between sages and between sages and things.
So these are some of the questions. And I'd really-- I had-- you made the point about the cloak, which animated that instantly for me. So one question I would have is if you would want to say a few comments about some of the objects even in this first example that you have here-- the salt, the wheat, the barley, what are they doing? What's the work that these sorts of objects in a story do as part of the performance or the performativity of it? So with that, I'll leave it so there'll be plenty of time for discussion.
JAMES REDFIELD: Thank you so much. [INAUDIBLE] respond. Thank you for the response, and also for the beautiful passage. Well, let's go back to that passage [NON-ENGLISH]. It's number 1-2 on your handout. The nature of the objects in this passage is twofold. Some of the objects in the passage-- that is, the water, the salt, and the dough, but also the wheat, are prototypes, legal categories, which fit into a larger discussion based on the mishnah.
And then the object which is not a prototype is the cloak. That is something that we can at least imagine as being on stage. So one of the things that your question immediately raises for me is why I would draw that distinction, given that as part of the Talmudic audience, it is quite natural, indeed, to imagine objects, including the water and the salt, even when you know that they are legal prototypes.
And I think that some of the work on-- I'm thinking of [NON-ENGLISH], but also Barry Wimpfheimer, in terms of the way that stories are related to law draws that out. That distinction is not always super clear. The cloaks, though-- the reason that I read the cloaks this way, which is that I picture-- that I actually picture them sitting on their cloaks-- is because of another passage in the Bavli Shabbat where the entomology of this cloak is given as he spreads it out and sits down on it, as opposed to a [NON-ENGLISH], which is just a wrapping, a formless wrapping.
And furthermore, the [NON-ENGLISH], which is the exact same word that was used for the habits which are worn by West Syrian monks, is associated in the Bavli in several other contexts with the prestige of the rabbinic patriarchate. They say this man is lovely. His cloak is lovely, but also with the right of ordination, a gold trimmed [NON-ENGLISH] is worn at the right of ordination. And then finally with mockery of rabbis by other groups and in [NON-ENGLISH].
So again, that symbol, as I read it, there is-- in other words, I imagine the cloak in that scene based on associating what I've seen that symbol used as in many different parts of the Talmud, which is very much this sort of [NON-ENGLISH] approach, right? Which is, oh yeah, that reminds me of something. I already sort of knew that. I'm already thinking of that.
So I really don't want to take too much time away from discussion, but let me just take you now to unit 4 with example 2 on the handout. And let me also say that precisely because in the reception of the text, images-- whether legal prototypes, actual cloaks, or even statements-- become materialized, become realized for us as the audience of the text, when we see an image repeated, it's always fair to ask if the repetition itself has a function, has an important function within the scene.
And in this case, what's repeated is Rav Safra's statement. When Rav Safra retorts, "Moses, are you speaking appropriately?" [NON-ENGLISH]. Now, Rav Safra says the exact same thing elsewhere in the Talmud once. But he often, very often, says Moshe, you know. That's something that he says. It's a statement of incredulity.
Now, in the one other context where he says [NON-ENGLISH], it's more organic in the sense that here, [NON-ENGLISH] already says [NON-ENGLISH]. [NON-ENGLISH] says [NON-ENGLISH]. They acted appropriately to laugh at him. And Rav Safra says, Moses, are you speaking appropriately? So there is a mnemonic and a literary payoff to quoting Rav Safra there. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Rav Safra actually said that in response.
It's possible that someone knew he said that elsewhere and it fit really well and they put it in there to diaologize the conversation. So there is even a kind of materiality to these statements, to these phrases that can come attached these certain figures. And they can be moved around. And they are, indeed, moved and shuffled around. And there is many examples of other cases where [NON-ENGLISH] said something in one context and the redactors insert it into another context. We have evidence for this.
So why is that important? Because I think in a sense, hermeneutically speaking, water, dough, salt, cloaks, statements, they-- at the level of redaction, they become tools or building blocks for imagination, for imagination of these scenes and the recreation of these scenes in the mind of the audience. And if we take that seriously, we can read this passage in particular-- and as I'm arguing, reflexive-- way. So I'll end with that.
AUDIENCE: Hi, thanks for a really interesting paper. And just doing a little bit of connecting, Lilly's talk-- so I'm going to ask you to ask me a question. I want you to ask me, what is the secret of comedy?
JAMES REDFIELD: What's the secret?
AUDIENCE: So I think by bringing us to talk about the [INAUDIBLE] you've raised the issue of timing, which we haven't done yet. So Lilly talked about showing the process. But you're introducing the fact that we can show process and that's a performance. But the timing of our showing the process turns it into real theater.
And I'm thinking of this in two ways, not just the arrival in the sort of clear and apparent sense of a person arriving on the scene. There's something really great about the first story, though, because the way he walks in and he hears, [NON-ENGLISH], they're in the middle of a conversation. If he doesn't arrive and say, OK, it's time to sit down and let's start. Everybody's gathered.
He walks into the middle. He doesn't quite know what they said before. He makes his attempt to sort of throw out something. But he's just not even in the strike zone and they laugh at him, right, because he's walking in at the wrong time. So they're [INAUDIBLE] that's what makes it all the more staged and performative. But then I began to think, but this is true in general of the arrival of traditions. So the last example that you just quickly pointed to-- and since I'm not familiar with it, it's possible I'm not understanding this exactly right, but just by looking very quickly-- you say that they defer this whole [NON-ENGLISH] thing to [NON-ENGLISH] to have them then kind of play out what they've been discussing at great length beforehand. And again, the question is timing. Why-- [NON-ENGLISH] talked about this, this deliberate deferral of elements so that you can suddenly go, tada, and have the big reveal at the end.
So showing the process is one thing. But showing it with a particular kind of timing for what? What kind of effect? I don't think that's pedagogical. I think the showing is pedagogical, perhaps. But I think this sort of theatricality of the timing not only the arrival of people to carry important information at appropriate moments or inappropriate comments, which makes for comic theater, not just regular theater. But also the arrival of the traditions themselves.
So we can move beyond arrival scenes and [INAUDIBLE] to just be [INAUDIBLE]. And there are so many cases in which you get to the end of a very long [NON-ENGLISH], and you think, if I had known this at the beginning. We've all had that experience, right? [INAUDIBLE]. So I don't quite know where that's going. But I just appreciate the fact that I think that these two kind of-- you took it to the next step now. I realize why this goes beyond performance in a banal sense of just showing to get [INAUDIBLE].
JAMES REDFIELD: Maybe I would echo that and say, you know, it's almost tautological to say the arrangement of material in a [NON-ENGLISH] has a pedagogical function, or it is scholastically motivated. The whole Talmud is scholastically motivated. The whole Talmud has a pedagogical function. But why now? Why here? Yes, exactly. And those are kind of the questions that we can ask. We can use literary and also ethnographic criticism to develop those questions. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: I find-- and this is in the form of your presentation this morning-- the exercise of working from an articulation of aspects of reflexivity articulated in a very short and very recent period of academic history which is available to us through memory. Some of us, at least, have memory, as another arrow in the quiver for thinking creatively about these ancient texts. Very stimulating. But I think you alluded to the fact that the reflexive turn in ethnography comes at a moment of crisis for the disciplines.
And he is accompanied immediately, almost immediately, by reflection on itself. In other words, it is performed and written about almost immediately. And an awareness of the crisis in which its taking place is part and parcel of the turn. Does this suggest that reflexivities tend to come at moments of crisis, or do you think that that is accidental rather than necessary?
JAMES REDFIELD: Well, I didn't know we were talking about Hegel today, but--
AUDIENCE: No, I'm talking about Aristotle.
JAMES REDFIELD: Oh, all right. Well, even further [INAUDIBLE]. Let me try to rephrase the historical question as a ahistorical one. What is it to think in a discipline? When we say anthropology as a discipline has become fragmented as a result of the reflexive turn, that is certainly-- well, I'm not sure if it's as a result of, but they are certainly coincident. Is that desirable is a question that, fortunately, I don't have to answer.
How does it affect the kind of knowledge that we produce to think in a discipline as opposed to not? In the case-- what I'm trying to do is to go beyond disciplinarity and go beyond interdisciplinarity and to generate what I'm calling a comparative analytics. In other words, not theory that comes from anthropology that you then impose onto Talmudic stuff so that you can see things that you might not have otherwise seen, but a set of ideas which were articulated within anthropology as a result of certain problems and an awareness of what those problems were to begin with, and then a search for similar problems within the study of the Talmud and a transfer of some of the solutions onto some of the problems in the other field, so that you don't really need-- there doesn't have to be a there there in terms of where-- what the reception of the comparative analytics will be.
This argument is written in a no field. It's written in a no man's land.
AUDIENCE: But you did [INAUDIBLE].
JAMES REDFIELD: Yes. I hope-- I hope so. And ultimately, like all scholarly production, the success or failure is whether or not people ignore it. So I mean, you know, look, [NON-ENGLISH] arrival scene is a tremendous success. It's not a failed thesis defense. It's in the Talmud, right? Centuries, we're still talking about this dumb thing he said about the cloaks, right? So let's remember that, too, that it's generating a certain kind of argument that is the mark of the [INAUDIBLE], not whether or not it's right. Yeah.
AUDIENCE: Some-- no, this is really fascinating. I mean, my first reaction to the written version was exactly where is the there there, right? Who are the natives? This is a kind of inner [INAUDIBLE] discussion. And without the natives, how did the analogy work? But it's more sophisticated than that, because part of this story is exactly creating the native, right? So laughing is a way to create the native.
And I would even dare thinking that laughter is a kind of informal move in the [NON-ENGLISH], to mark something. And therefore, [NON-ENGLISH] right? You're not allowed to laugh at specific people because it's not a legitimate move. We have to go into specifics. And then [NON-ENGLISH] means that we still-- our reactions still stand.
JAMES REDFIELD: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: Right? It's still-- so this is a way to create kind of a native. And according to [INAUDIBLE] thesis, the stunt creates the rabbis, in a way, as natives, right? Kind of creating the distance, right? So we have here a kind of second order reflection, right? Because you have first to create the distance and then you have to account for it. So yeah, I don't know what the outcomes are.
- And by natives-- you mean [INAUDIBLE] as natives, too, right? [INAUDIBLE]
JAMES REDFIELD: So I think, in a sense, what I've been trying to argue is that the natives are a red herring, right? Because what we're interested in ultimately is within the final composition, how do the voices of the various parties relate to one another? And the natives can be staged. They can be a face. They can be very central. But that, as we see within ethnography, they differ very greatly along those lines. So we don't really-- the field, you know, by definition, is a literary construction. But as you argue, if I may allude to your article on they laughed at him in the west, which is a similar formula. The Bavli contains this formula, they laughed at him in the west at certain times.
We may, as Professor [INAUDIBLE] very, to my mind, convincingly argues in that article, find correlations, nonetheless, between these-- even these inchoate gestures. So she demonstrates they laughed at him in the west is correlated within the Talmud with a particular philosophical position on what law is, right? And so every time "they" laugh, the Palestinians laugh at us, in a sense they are us laughing at ourselves about how abstruse and overly philosophical we are, right?
So this case of laughter, despite the fact that it's cross-indexed by [NON-ENGLISH], despite that, in this case, laughter is quite different, because we are being asked to picture them as them. And then how does that relate to us? And there are multiple-- and that's what I'm saying. It's minimally transparent because there are multiple layers of Palestinian sages laughing, later Babylonians arguing about the laughter, and then the anonymous voice perhaps intervenes.
So we always need to think about the anonymous voice as a player and a mobile player, but not a totally free floating one. I mean, one which sometimes is more closely attached to Babylonian and [NON-ENGLISH], and sometimes further from them.
AUDIENCE: What did you say?
AUDIENCE: Taking sides?
AUDIENCE: When you say attached, yeah.
JAMES REDFIELD: I think, well, it can be attached in the form of ventriloquism, like in my example where I'm arguing that it's actually making [INAUDIBLE] look good because it basically extends a biased point, it makes [INAUDIBLE] look like he's saying, maybe I know the answer? And then lo and behold, the answer arrives. So that's an example of taking sides.
And there are many motivations we might imagine for that, which maybe some of them are not so exciting and theoretical. Maybe some of them are just, well, this kind of makes the thing hold together OK. It doesn't look too top heavy. I mean, there's lots of other criteria we might apply to understand why the stam does what it does.
AUDIENCE: I wanted just to [INAUDIBLE] reaction on the precise question, and that concerns the outcome for the notion of reflection of the play, because if, indeed, it is the process of first creating the native tacitly, and then the characters are responding to that explicitly or loudly, then it is no longer a simple subject-driven notion of reflection of somebody thinking about what somebody is doing. It's maybe [INAUDIBLE] talking [INAUDIBLE].
JAMES REDFIELD: [INAUDIBLE]
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] I have a couple comments on this first section which should be in here. Just out of-- I have more questions. So first, I mean, this draws [INAUDIBLE] different formulation [INAUDIBLE] agree with it, in that sense. So it's a story about an arrival scene of a Babylonian in Palestine. But the fact that we read it in the Babylonian Talmud means that it's a story about an arrival scene back. He had to tell this back. So he's the informant now to the Babylonians about what they do in Palestine.
Now, it's a lot like-- I mean, to give the contemporaries-- I mean, you know, I don't know, I couldn't read this-- and maybe that's just because I'm solipsistic-- I couldn't read this without thinking of the way that I could have Talmudists report about their visits to Israel and how their talks are received there. So you know, they go [INAUDIBLE]. They think, you know, if only-- maybe with a will that I will say something that will be accepted by--
JAMES REDFIELD: This talk would not have gone over well.
AUDIENCE: And then they land there and then they get laughed at. And then they come back. But they tell that story in order to laugh back at the Israelis and how backwards their scholarship is, right? And so my point is, the story about laughter within the story, he's constructed as [INAUDIBLE] as a negative, right? But when the story is then told, the Palestinians are the ones who are [INAUDIBLE] natives in the sense of they laugh at our-- so that was one point. A second point, just very quick about the robe, because as you said the robe is a symbol of prestige, could he be telling them-- when he says am I taking your robes, does he not mean, like, am I doing something weird? Am I taking your stripes? Am I--
- Stealing your crown?
AUDIENCE: Right. Stealing your crown. Right.
JAMES REDFIELD: [INAUDIBLE] what he's saying.
AUDIENCE: Yeah. Meaning did my brilliance [INAUDIBLE]--
JAMES REDFIELD: That was my take on it, too. Yeah. And that's why they laughed, again, just like everybody just did. But also, I think that the accent comes in there.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, I think maybe the second laughter is about his accent, right?
JAMES REDFIELD: [INAUDIBLE] He says, oh, am I so smart? And they laugh at him because of how he said it. But as to your other point, if we could go back and look at subunit four, what is the actual reception of the laughter? Because clearly the laughter is making a legal point, as you both said. You know, it's received as such. And that is sort of taken for granted. Nobody says, oh, it was because of his accent. And in that sense, the Bavli is not an ethnographic text. It's not foregrounding its interest in description or in cultural variation as such. It likes to marshal it into the argument.
But it's not at all straightforward if it was deserving of laughter or not, right? [NON-ENGLISH], it was well done that they laughed at him. And then the anonymous voice enters in and says, after all, what is the difference between wheat and barley? And it returns to the whole legal conversation from before, right? The difference might be that. And then there's another explanation of the reasoning. And then Rav Safra apparently, although I think is interposed here--
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James Redfield of Stanford University spoke at "Talmud: Process and Performance," May 18, 2016. The conference was co-sponsored by the Cornell Jewish Studies Program, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Mediterranean Studies Initiative, Department of Anthropology, Department of Classics, Society for the Humanities, and the Second Avenue Kosher Delicatessen.