An Explanation of Timshel Arts and Its Mission
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What does “Timshel” mean?

Who is Justin Katz?

What is the mission of Timshel Arts?

Why is the store called “Confidence Place”?

Why is the blog called “Dust in the Light”?


From John Steinbeck’s East of Eden (Penguin, 1992, pages 301–303):

[Lee said,] “The King James version [of The Bible] says this — it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”

Samuel nodded. “And his children didn’t do it entirely,” he said.

Lee sipped his coffee. “Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order. And I began to stew about it. I wondered what the original word of the original writer had been that these very different translations could be made ...

“My [elders] felt that these words were very important too — ‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ ...

“The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel — ‘Thou mayest’ — that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ — it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ ...

“Now, there are millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.”


Justin Katz is the founder and owner of Timshel Arts and the “I” throughout this Web site. I am a writer, musician, designer, and thinker. To find out more about me, visit my home page.

Note that another Justin Katz, “Justin Katz (West Coast),” pops up around this Web site. That Justin Katz lives in San Francisco, whereas I live in Rhode Island; musically, he concentrates on bass, whereas my emphasis is on piano and vocals; artistically, the differences between our styles are unmistakable. To find out more about the other Justin Katz, visit his Web site.


Timshel Arts is not about me. It is about Honesty, Integrity, and Artistry.

Because it must start somewhere, Timshel Arts is beginning with me, but it is my hope that it will expand to be something much more important than myself. The benchmarks of my strategy (and I plan to be very excited if/when each is accomplished) are as follows:

  1. The first goal of Timshel Arts (by necessity the most closely correlated to my own personal goals) is to turn my artistic ventures into a career. As a gradual accomplishment, this will allow me, first, more time to work on artistic projects to, thereby, make my artistic career more self sufficient. Ultimately, I will be able to shift all of the time that I now spend working at “day jobs” toward efforts to turn Timshel Arts into its own entity.

  2. Once I am able to support myself and my family through those activities that I feel compelled to do anyway, I will have both time and (ostensibly) experience to help other artists to do the same. In this endeavor, Timshel Arts will take a larger (but by no means excessive) percentage of any money made from an artist’s work until all investments are recouped, at which point the percentages will flip in favor of the artist. The idea will not be to make a profit, but to increase the number of artists who can be helped. Ideally, established artists will help new additions (by writing copy, playing instruments, or designing packaging and promotional materials, for example) free of charge, their own income being derived from their own artistic work.

  3. As the amount of money that Timshel Arts garners from its minimal cut of each artist’s work exceeds the amount of money being invested in new artists, the organization will branch out to provide services, such as insurance, loans, and (in short) whatever else might prove helpful to its artist community.

  4. My ultimate dream for Timshel Arts is to see it drop the “Arts” and become an “anticorporation” (“anti-” meaning “opposite in emphasis,” not “hostile toward”), de-emphasizing profit in business transactions and emphasizing provision of those goods and services without which people cannot live in our society in the most friendly and financially viable way. To put it directly, Timshel Co. will “do things right” by putting morality above legality and philanthropy above greed.


The name “Confidence Place” derives from a Just Thinking column entitled “Confidence in the Arts,” about Herman Melville’s use of fiction to convey truths about interactions and society in his novel The Confidence Man:

The plot of the novel centers around the Devil taking an April 1st steamboat up the Mississippi as a con man (i.e., confidence man), preying, as those crooks do, on the trust and charitable dispositions of his fellow passengers. As the con man interacts with the diverse people on the boat, Melville weaves philosophical themes into the conversations and the deception.

The central thesis of the Just Thinking column is that the arts can help us to see through what can be considered to be the complex “cons” of life. However:

One of the most dangerous trends of the past half-century has been the schism of the arts into either superficial mass-consumables or indecipherable highbrow nonsense. Didactic art that falls somewhere in-between, while certainly being created, has neither the broad appeal to attract the investments of capitalists nor the rote message to gain the support of the predominantly Left-leaning art-world establishment. Whether taken literally or figuratively, such a confluence of circumstances seems to constitute a deliberately corrupting force. The influence of this force — even if seen as chance and circumstance — is difficult to express in theoretical or practical terms because it is so complexly intertwined with the structure of society that it must be felt rather than reasoned.

It is a major goal of Timshel Arts to counteract this force of evil... evil from the point of view of the struggling artist, of course.


The title of “Dust in the Light” comes from Justin’s forthcoming (someday) poetic novel, First You Must Burn: A Symphony Without Music, II.

And watching the dust in the light,
I determined that it floated
and churned by no will of its own.
Rather, every speck rose and fell
or faded into the dark room
at the whim of some random breeze.
(Although, I felt nothing myself.)

Of course, it’s a metaphor. And of course, the author doesn’t happen to agree with the narrator.