Dalāla, Dialogue (Maimonides, Bouteldja, and Us)
When Maimonides contemplates translation, he stages a truly fantastic scene that, ostensibly pedagogical, might also be described as dialogical, even theatrical. The scene deepens and thickens entanglements, encounters, and interpellations, the terms of which signal toward discrete yet vanishing points—one might say, signs—upon lines of unlikely geometries and implausible grammars. Between Hebrew and Arabic, “philosophy and law” (as Leo Strauss underscored), across writing and aurality, Maimonides puts meaning at play, and he does so by playing language games, doing things with signs. Of course, his book itself is, to begin with, a sign of sorts, a tangled point or pointer on fabled lines, bearing a title so notorious that it can no longer be read, much less be heard or thought. What does it mean to hear? What is within and between Hebrew and Arabic? What is at play within and between the Jew and the Arab?