The Man Behind the Scream: Noam Galai

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About Rachel Kadish

Rachel Kadish teaches writing in Lesley University's MFA Program in Creative Writing, and is a VIsiting Scholar at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center. She is the author of the novels From a Sealed Room and Tolstoy Lied: a Love Story. Her short fiction has been read on NPR and has appeared in Zoetrope, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, The Gettysburg Review, Story, and Bomb, in the Pushcart Prize Anthology, Lost Tribe: New Jewish Fiction from the Edge and various other anthologies.

Comments

  1. Great story! thanks for sharing all that new info about this story.

  2. This is an awesome story. So inspiring.

  3. Larry Kadish says:

    Wow, she can write!

  4. great topic. esquire would have liked this one. good job GMP for grabbing it, though.

  5. Graeme Jamieson says:

    This is really great, Rachel. Your family will be proud. Well done, and thanks.

  6. Nikki Herbert says:

    Noam – you are being robbed by big corporate thieves.
    Time to call on copyright laws – if you were the one stealing their stuff they will have you in jail by now.

  7. Thanks for the story behind the fascinating story. Shy people around the world are celebrating, quietly of course, and worrying that they might be next.

  8. Dan Levine says:

    Rachel, fantastic story, superbly written, so rich. I loved this line — words I couldn’t find myself:

    “The mouth is a black hole, crying to the heavens—but it’s not a passive howl. There’s something about it that implies that this scream is going to end. And when it does, the face is going to level its gaze at someone and take action.”

    That is precisely why so many have used the image.

    Thanks for a great story.

  9. Herb Ross says:

    First thing seeing the image brought to mind was Edvard Munch’s The Scream. This is a beautifully written story; especially moving is the account of this little boy, who unbeknownst to himself or anyone else has been living as inside a cloud for the first 3 years of his life, and reacts with wonder to what most of us take for granted-clear vision.
    The idea that Iranian protestors are inspired by an image of an Israeli is testimony to the artificiality of labels. Would it matter to them if they knew? I certainly hope not.

  10. nice
    great photo and great guy

  11. Extraordinary piece. I love how it steams through the personal, the political, the aesthetic, and the ethical, then deltas out into a meditation on identity. And then narrows back in to the personal, but with stars looking down.

    And the woven-in quotations!

    Wonderful.

  12. I mean “streams!”

  13. Gorgeous piece, Rachel. So surprising in content, so much to think about and so exquisitely written.
    Brava!

  14. Bob Brush says:

    Fascinating: a window on the evolution of culture in the new century. What’s to become of us if we lose our human face? Intricately (and masterfully) done, Rachel.

  15. Gloria Ho says:

    Talent apparently runs in this family!!!

  16. Alyssa Haywoode says:

    One person really can make a global difference.

  17. Wonderful piece, Rachel! Beautifully written and really thought-provoking. What an incredible situation for someone so reserved to find himself in. Thanks for sharing!

  18. on a local scale – In Israel, a photograph showing the full face of a celebrated Israeli writer was used and abused time and again by a political party he was strongly opposed to – and nothing could have been done to stop it.

  19. robert howard says:

    Luckily he only looks like that while screaming.

  20. Yael Goldstein Love says:

    What an amazing story. What a beautiful essay.

  21. Michel Cerf - מיכאל says:

    In « La Prisonnière » (A la recherche du Temps perdu), Marcel Proust describes the yellow section of a wall in Vermeer’s View of Delft, which was so beautiful in the eyes of the dying writer Bergotte that he dragged himself to see it once more, just before his death. Thus the power of the visual is rendered into words, and without these words, many – of whom I regretfully count myself – could not grasp the entire beauty of the image: the words translate one beauty, visual, into another, stylistic, eloquent. Rachel Kadish does for the photo of Noam what Proust does for the yellow “pan de mur jaune”.
    תודה לצלם, תודה למי שכתב עליו
    מיכאל

  22. Beautiful essay, fascinating story. Thank you for giving this some real thought and thanks for sharing it.

  23. Michel Cerf - מיכאל says:

    I have taken the liberty of forwarding this remarkable piece of writing about a remarkable piece of photograpy to several friends and colleagues in various European countries. To the protesters in Iran who used Noam’s photo, I wish well, and hope Rachel’s essay will reach them as the photo did,
    To them all:

    السلام عليكم وتياتي
    ميشيل صرف

  24. Michael Zalis says:

    Such a thought provoking discourse on the power of human expression to virally spread far beyond geographic, ethnic, and national boundaries. Kudos!!!!!

  25. Jeffrey Sherman says:

    That such an image can be so powerful as to have universal meaning and go beyond cultural and political divisions would by itself make this story meaningful and interesting. But what strikes me deeply is its profound and fascinating origin. The “primal” screaming figure was created, not by a smart marketing entity, but by a person whose character is known to be devoid of verbal expression and who has communicated to us through a silent voice consistent with whom he is (at least until now). I, for one, have always longed to avoid the ambiguity and shortcomings of verbal communication and speak with the silence that Noam does.
    Thanks to Rachel’s beautifully written description there is much to contemplate and value.

  26. Ilona Toback says:

    My very first reaction as I started reading was could his mother possibly have a son who is painfully shy
    when she is so outgoing, but moving past that, the story was fascinating and thought provoking.
    Rachel, I never want to be the type who says “I knew you when you were just a baby”, but this time I say it proudly. Your writing is concise and I find myself paying attention to every single word and contemplating the verbiage and its message.

  27. Scott Stackpole says:

    Wittgenstein epigraphs seldom fail to pull me in, and this is a sublimely crafted portrait not only of a young man and unlikely celebrity but of a global phenomenon of digital identity. Were there any doubt about the power of visual imagery, Ms. Kadish’s words should eliminate it. Well done.

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    [...]we like to honor other sites on the web, even if they aren’t related to us, by linking to them. Below are some sites worth checking out[...]…

  4. [...] while ago, I heard a story on the news about a man named Noam Galai, and his “Stolen Scream”. Noam is an Israeli photographer. He took a few self-portraits in a screaming pose, uploaded them, [...]

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