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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, July 14, 2006
    Samson ... take a bow
     
    We've spent all week trying to find something redeeming, some relevant contemporary meaning, in the bloodsoaked story of Samson. Failed to. But this week's LRB offers something useful, in the shape of Jenny Diski's review of a David Grossman book about Samson, which describes the blinded battler's ancient image as Samson the hero, and his modern interpretation as the tough Jew.

    Grossman situates [Samson the hero/tough Jew] in modern Israel. Those who would see Samson as a tough Jew, Grossman explains, 'esteemed his ability to apply force without any restraints or moral inhibitions, an ability which history withheld from the trod-upon Jews for millennia, until the establishment of the state of Israel'. 'Samson's Foxes' fought in the 1948 War of Independence; a 'Samson' unit was created during the first Palestinian intifada in the 1980s; Israel's nuclear weapon programme was once known as the 'Samson Option'.

    I've been on train journeys to Sheffield and back today, musing on these things in the face of the latest terror. And listening repeatedly to Take a Bow, the relentlessly angry opener of the new album by Muse:

    Death, you bring death
    And destruction to all that you touch
    Pay, you must pay
    You must pay for your crimes against the earth
    Hate, feed the hate
    Feed the hate of the country you love
    And beg, you will beg
    You will beg for the lives and their souls
    And burn, you will burn
    You will burn in hell
    Yeah you'll burn in hell
    You'll burn in hell
    Yeah you'll burn in hell
    Burn in hell
    Yeah you'll burn in hell
    For your sins