My work stems from my background in World War II and Jewish history, genocide prevention advocacy, and my interest in the effects of cycles of violence within nations, communities, and on the human psyche. Integrating character study, historical analysis, and psychological discourse in my work I pose questions about abuse, trauma, family, and cultural dynamics.
In my work, I examine the long-term effects that social, religious, and emotional ideologies play in shaping family dynamics. I also look at the way those patterns are replicated in broader cultural and international politics. I render the complexity of inter-generational and communal legacies of violence by exploring examples of ‘situational morality’. For example, I juxtapose the same violent act, murder for instance, and examine the way it can be viewed as heroic or barbaric in relationship to its cultural and temporal circumstances. I am particularly fascinated with the vast differential in the way we moralize violence that happens in times of war versus peace by nature of its context.
Violence is not only experienced through the mechanics of the act itself but also in the interpretations assigned to it by family or community narratives. In my work, I explore the generational effects of transmitting these narratives and the role they play in the development of xenophobia and in informing a characters sense of self. In my novel, I consider the emotional and social inheritances of three generations of men, a grandfather and WWII veteran, his son, and his grandson, by interweaving the stories of their lives in order to render the effects their choices and interpretations of violence have on one another.
I aim to depict the human capacity to commit violence as occurring on a wide-ranging spectrum; from benign to violence, like that of a baby clamping down on the nipple, all the way to violence whose goal is the annihilation of another person or group of people. By grounding my characters in their unique sense of morality and normalcy, it is my goal that their attitude towards violence is able to be understood by the reader, if not condoned. I want to provoke the reader to consider their willingness to remain non-judgmental of the character’s morally questionable actions.
Circumstances determine the moral implication attributed to behavior, but we can never be free from the potential for violence in the human experience. Therefore it is of the utmost importance to me, in my character work, to convey the perspective of the characters so the reader or audience member can consider the mindset and worldview from which they live and act. Our instinct towards outright condemnation and demonization of violence is a dead end. We have a duty to remain cognizant of the effects born from exposure to acts of violence in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the conditions required for violence to occur, and ultimately to learn the lessons from history in attempt to prevent unnecessary human suffering.