Wednesday, July 20, 2005

124. Linear

This afternoon I signed up to chant a few more verses in addition to the very long section I'm doing in a few weeks. I momentarily wondered if I was nuts, since I'm really busy with work. Then I thought about how chanting provides a kind of balance in my life and, in fact, helps keep me sane.

Graphic design, which I love but which occupies far too many hours, is mostly a hit or miss proposition. You manipulate type and images in a layout until they strike some note of being "right." It is, despite what teachers and bosses might tell you, a completely subjective endeavor. There's no correct answer, except what your eye and gut tells you, and what the client wants.

Chanting Torah is in many ways the complete opposite of this process, one of the reasons why I like it so much. It's a linear kind of learning. You repeat the words and melody over and over again until you know them, study their meaning, and exercise creative leeway when adding expression to your singing. But nothing is ambiguous about the pronunciation or trop, which is either right or wrong. And when it's right, it's one of the most satisfying feelings I've ever known. It's right in a way that has been right for 5,000 years, and which has not and will not change based on whim, economy, or fashion. The same can't be said for the meaning of those words--which is why they'll be around, and sung by many more generations of tired graphic designers, for at least another few thousand years.

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