Avoda (Garden)

In Hebrew ‘avoda’ means ‘work, labour, service’ and also ‘work, as in a work of art’.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”. (Bereishit [Genesis] 2:15)

A literal translation of this phrase would read “and put him in the Garden of Eden so that he served her and took care of her”. “Who is she?” ask the wise men. Of course, she is the Book [editor’s note: Torah is a feminine noun in Hebrew and garden is masculine]. Having tasted the fruit plucked from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, man performed the first hermeneutic act in history. He made a mark in the margins. Every mark in the margins of a book both spoils it and extends its boundaries. The main thing is that man created these margins. He left the limits of the text, stopped being part of it, lost his place. And was expelled from the garden. Created for reading, man doomed himself to being a letter.

Nothing blossoms in sand or between plates of a roadway, unless words
Jacques Derrida “Writing and difference”

An idea always moves forwards, a feeling backwards. The past is a garden. The future is a city. Cain built the first city on earth. God gave him a sign (letter) and sent him wandering eternally. Cain became a travelling book. A town-dweller transformed in to a nomad, he had to plant gardens in the desert of the letter.

Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence.
T. S. Eliot “The Four Quartets”

In the centre of town I plant old oak railway sleepers in scorched, rocky soil. They won’t become trees. Thrown up on a wasteland, burnt and pummeled by time they are helpless and useless. And devoid of roots. Like words. But the future can only be built on the debris of the past. I don’t have any other material.