The sacred and the profane

Antique Trader runs a story about significant architectural findings at the First Temple site in Jerusalem and a person on a popular online auction site is selling their soul for $1 Million, plus 41 cents shipping cost. Coincidence?

For that money, you get a slip of paper – from a fool to a fool – that says you now own their soul. It’s a horrifying thought, but I do have to ask: What is its re-sale value?

Conversely to such imprudence, almost the whole of Western history has sprung from happenings at the First Temple site in Jerusalem. It is the source of great inspiration, as well as consternation, for the whole of the Judeo-Christian and Muslim worlds. Any finding that links directly to the era of the First Temple, at the site itself, is of monumental historical importance, and the artifacts themselves – however fragmented or fossilized – are priceless.

The sacred and the profane live side by side at every level of society – one couldn’t exist without the other as a point of reference could it? Here we are this week, then, with a perfect example.

This dichotomy is amply demonstrated in the broader world of antiques. A good antique should always be respected, of course, and the craftsmanship admired with approving oohs and aahs. If we’re honest with ourselves, though – and human – then we have to admit that’s not really what drives the fascination, is it?

It’s knowing everything about the company that produced that elegant piece of glass, or that designer that sculpted every rounded edge of that sofa or table, or the artist that found time in between illicit liaisons to paint a masterpiece. In fact, the more that is known about the events that went into the making of something, or the events that happened around, on or because of it, make it that much more interesting – and valuable.

OK, so I’m just talking about my own reactions to antiques and art, but I like things that jump, and not just with technique. It’s the intangibles that make something sing, the very essence of what it’s seen, where it’s been and what part it’s played throughout that history. It is that which makes it complete: its very soul. If it has nothing that makes it shout, if there’s no evident passion, then it’s not worth having. To take Duke Ellington totally, but not totally, out of context: if it sounds good, it is good.

After reading Melody Amsel-Arielli’s story about the recent unearthing of First Temple artifacts – some perhaps even dating to the exact time of King Solomon – my imagination was set afire. The Old Testament, whatever your position on it, is one of the great books of history and anything that links directly to events described in it cannot but help inspire awe.

Directly after reading Melody’s story, however, I received an email about some total fool – perhaps a brilliant social commentator, perhaps? – selling his soul on the Internet. The extremes weren’t lost on me. In fact, it was the ridiculousness of the one that enhanced the profundity of the other, that even inspired me to type these words.

Melody’s story is continued inside. Read on and enjoy. The other thing? I hate to even dignify it by writing about, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find – unlike a good antique with true soul – on the Internet.