“Ballet,” as the choreographer George Balanchine once said, “is Woman.”
But if women are still the symbols of ballet in the popular imagination, chances are it is as ballerinas performing dazzling, demanding steps that were devised for them by men. When it comes to choreography, at least at most major companies, ballet remains overwhelmingly a man’s world.
Around the year 1290, a set of mysterious writings began to circulate in the Jewish community of Castile, an area in what is now modern-day Spain. Written in a lyrical, abstruse Aramaic, they were disseminated by a man named Moses ben Shem-Tov de León, a member of the region’s circle of Jewish mystics. De León claimed that the work was not his own — that he had copied an ancient manuscript in his possession, which had been composed in Palestine in the second century by the legendary sage Rabbi Shim’on bar Yohai. These writings had remained secret for centuries, de León claimed, and were only now being revealed to the world at large.
In the following centuries, the writings distributed by de León and his peers would be published as Sefer HaZohar, “The Book of Radiance,” a wide-ranging work that became the central text of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. Based on traditions going back to the Bible, Kabbalah crystallized in southern France and northern Spain in the 12th and 13th centuries. Unlike other Jewish traditions, which depict God in relatively simple terms, Kabbalah describes an intricate divine structure and heavenly realm, and elaborates on the relationship between God and creation. The Zohar, as the writings were called, while drawing on earlier works, used these ideas to re-interpret the Bible, thus transforming Judaism’s most foundational text.
Ninefox is a book with math in its heart, but also one which understands that even numbers can lie. That it's what you see in the numbers that matters most. And that something — maybe all things — begun with the best, truest of intentions can go terribly wrong once the gears of reality begin to churn.
For those familiar with the comic brilliance of Monty Python, founding member John Cleese’s recent book “So, Anyway…” will be sure to revive some fond memories of good entertainment and belly-aching laughs, thanks to the incomparable wit of the legendary British funny man.
Unsurprisingly, Cleese’s memoir of his earliest days of comedy provokes much more than a chuckle or two, and for fans of any of his work — whether it be his groundbreaking repertoire as a founding member of Monty Python or his beloved role as the adorably cantankerous hotel owner on “Fawlty Towers” — “So, Anyway…” is nothing short of a joyous romp down his memory lane. His whip-smart humor is present from the very start. One can almost hear Basil Fawlty holding court about health inspectors.