What does “Timshel” mean?
Who is Justin Katz?
What is the mission of Timshel
Why is the store called
Why is the blog called “Dust
in the Light”?
From John Steinbecks
East of Eden (Penguin, 1992, pages 301303):
[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 didnt 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
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:
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.
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 artists 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.
As the amount of money
that Timshel Arts garners from its minimal cut of each artists
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
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
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
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.