An It-Thou continuum?

Is it true that conversation includes a whole continuum of interactions among people and other beings, from idle chit-chat which says It to dialogue which says Thou? Over all, the thread that runs through all, the stream that flows under the ground of all, is Thou. The Eternal Thou to be sure, but also the individual Thou which wants to come out.

It was perhaps necessary for Buber to oppose these two primary words, but they may not be so much two as infinite, and Thou dawns on us and we slip and slide from one to the other without realizing our movement until we find ourselves upon waking in the presence. So we need ever to be aware and to tug ourselves more to the Thou side and away from the It. Still we need to recognize where we are, and that life includes both.

Does this reduce the value of Buber’s understanding? I think it actually makes it more tasty, more colorful, more melodious. For the calling is to live in the really real. What is more real than G-d? Conversation is of G-d to be sure, so being real in conversation is a movement toward meeting, real to real. It seems more real to me to say It and Thou are on the same continuum of Thou. We can experience in here, or we can be in the presence of Thou, moving out, facing the fierce. When we go out of our house, we are not always either in or out, but we can be in the threshold, and where exactly is away from our house–out the drive, a mile away, the next town, state, country, continent, planet, star system, galaxy, universe? Continuum has some possibilities….

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on September 19th, 2005 | No Comments »

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