Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Artscroll = Pornography?!

I recently received a sample of the new Artscroll work "A Daily Dose of Torah." This work, which is more or less a modern-day Hok l'Yisrael, parcels out 18 minute learning sections covering Gemara, Siddur, Mussur, etc. But setting aside the content, in the introduction there is a very curious quote.

In the introduction the editors thank Reb Sheah Brander for his "graphics genius." They explain "As someone once said in a different context, 'I can't put it into words, but I know it when I see it.'" They then apply the quote as "It is hard to define good taste and graphics beauty in words, but when one sees Reb Sheah's work, one knows it."

Now, the quote they have "I can't put it into words, but I know it when I see it" doesn't actually appear anywhere exactly as that. It is obvious, however, this quote is most likely taken from a well known Supreme Court concurrence authored by Justice Potter Stewart. The case, Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964), is about whether a movie was pornographic, or more correctly obscene. Justice Stewart said that although it was difficult to define or articulate what exactly fit the definition of pornography "I know it when I see it." (Id. at 197.)

So, they are absolutely correct that "someone once said in a different context" but I am unsure if they knew exactly what context that was.

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