The Double Figure: Writing from a Picture and St. Christopher in "Infiltration" by Yehoshua Kenaz
Keywords:Kenaz Yehoshua, ekphrasis, Christianity, space, gaze, Saint Christopher, modern dance
The novel Infiltration ( 2003) tells the story of a group of recruits with mild disabilities at a basic training camp in Israel in the 1950s. First, I will show how the novel’s opening constitutes a “trailer” and a declaration of intent on the author’s part, wherein he states that the book will not be a sequential memoir with a plot, but rather a narrative emerging from a breach in the sequence and the infiltration of mute pictures into his biography. A well-known description of a Christian icon repeats itself: St. Christopher crosses a river with the baby-Jesus carried on his shoulders. The picture alludes to the figure of Alon carrying on his back Rahamim Ben Hamo, whom the narrator calls “the double figure”. The visual expression of the theme penetrates the novel that deals with the heart of Israeliness, as an intertext, and offers a model of “otherness” from the verbal media. The literal description will demonstrate how a frozen image acquires movement, word, and temporal similarity to the cinematic occurrence in which the boundaries between the visual-spatial and the temporal dissolve. Alon and Rahamim, in this initiation novel, offer two possibilities of being an artist: Alon is the painter and Rahamim is a dancer – through whom the observing narrator examines his identity as an artist-writer within the Israeli space.