Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Those battalions of strangers

Have I said this before?

When I used to live in London – decades ago, dear children, when the world was young and giants still walked the Earth – I found myself wondering at the sheer number of people. In particular, this (very lonely) feeling of puzzlement would grab me on the up escalator of tubes, as I looked at the endless stream of people on the down escalator.

Who are they all?
Where are they going?
Where do they come from?
How can there possibly be so many of them?
Is it really true they all have lives – external and internal – like mine, lives that mean to them what my life means to me, lives that they think important and meaningful


what does that mean with regard to my life

and the way I believe it important and meaningful


Obviously, dear children, I, like the world, was still young then, and the reality-notion that my life was only important and meaningful to me – that it was totally subjective a thing, that I could disappear pfft and nothing really would change – was frightening, at the time.

Sorta used to it now, k? Takes more than that to scare me now, I can tell you that for free ("I'm hard, I felt nowt"). I am, however, sometimes still weirded out, often quite woundingly, by the reality of the existence of other people, and not just their reality; their incredible fragility, the touching realness that fragility gives them. I want to gather them all, like I were some great big cosmic mama, you know, safe under my wings and say, it's okay, it's okay, honestly, you don't need to be so scared, I see you and it's okay.

I would, of course, be lying. None of it is "okay", really, when one thinks about it; but perhaps the issue is seeing and being seen – perhaps that is what makes the difference, the encounter with another, without which we do not fully exist.

I don't know.

My older son, who was Baby Jesus when he was a small child (things have moved on since then, you'll be relieved to know), used to say as I was putting them to bed "mummy, see me". Over and over again.

I really, really don't know.


Reading the Signs said...

I cannot help but feel (and excuse the awful self-referentialness of this) that this connects very much to the post I just put up.

seeing and being - yes, yes, I think it is what makes the difference. And now I am wondering if Encounter shares something with Epiphany. Don't know.

Anna MR said...

I think yes – Encounter and Epiphany absolutely share something: Epiphany as in "…a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something…" (thank you, dictionary.com) – Encounter as in "…to come upon or meet with, especially unexpectedly…" (ditto).

A (sudden? unexpected? otherwise out-of-the-ordinary and/or hence breathtaking?) seeing the real reality realness of ____ (fill in as necessary). The real nature of it.

I have, off and on, been quite keen on this dude Buber (you know? Jewish guy, big proper philosophers' beard on his face), and do need to get deeper into his stuff than one reading offers. Anyway, the Epiphany/Encounter thing is, in my mind, related to his I-Thou thing (you will note my highly literate and academic terminology; it is all this university studying like, bringing out this like real innellectual in me, innit). As wiki says it as well or, more likely, better than I can, I'll resort to quoting a fair long section from their Buber page:

"Ich-Du ("I-Thou" or "I-You") is a relationship that stresses the mutual, holistic existence of two beings. It is a concrete encounter, because these beings meet one another in their authentic existence, without any qualification or objectification of one another. Even imagination and ideas do not play a role in this relation. In an I-Thou encounter, infinity and universality are made actual (rather than being merely concepts). Buber stressed that an Ich-Du relationship lacks any composition (e.g. structure) and communicates no content (e.g. information). Despite the fact that Ich-Du cannot be proven to happen as an event (e.g. it cannot be measured), Buber stressed that it is real and perceivable. … Common English words used to describe the Ich-Du relationship include encounter, meeting, dialogue, mutuality, and exchange."

Do you see the connection to Epiphany/Encounter? Maybe even that blissfully gorgeous word you've dug up, parousia? Which, to my understanding, "…denotes the presence of one
who has already arrived…"
(thank you, newlifechurchhome.com/SomeGreekWords. Ahem. Moving swiftly on)

I don't know, maybe I'm just being peculiar. Wouldn't surprise me (I'm mad too, I am). But mwah, I like being in the peculiar corner with you, sweet Signs.


Reading the Signs said...

Yes, I do see it. Brill.

I have the Buber dude on my bookshelf, ja. But to tell you the honest truth (and why wouldn't I?) just now, prefer to read you on Buber than the dude himself.


Fire Bird said...

yes and do you sometimes feel they've all been sent down into the underground from central casting and once you've boarded your train, will all scurry off to their next assignment. No? Actually nor me, but my brother used to talk about having the feeling that the high street in our town was somehow erected when he was approaching and perhaps taken down again when he had gone.

Anna MR said...

Signs? You feeling okay? Lemme just feel your forehead, girlfriend; for that was quite a thing to say, what with preferring reading me to reading Buber. I do worry about you sometimes. (But thank you, obviously, what a compliment, even if it was due to a fever-induced flight of delirium.)

Fire Bird – weird thing, but I might actually be your brother, for I've suffered from feelings not at all unlike his high street dilemma. Reality turning out to be a theatrical unreality. Hmmm. I wonder what it says about us sufferers? Was it Bertrand Russell who came up with that five-minutes-ago theory, that we'd have no way of knowing if the world and everything in it was created just as it is five minutes ago? That sort of thing has haunted me way before I came to know some clever dude had thought of it too. Made me feel miles better, you know, Fire Bird, simply miles. Well no, it didn't actually, and now I'm just embarrassed to bits about sounding like a name-dropping idiot who's barely ever read a book at all, so needs to fall back on big names like Russell to sound cleverer than she is (which isn't difficult to do, I have to say).

Oh shut me face. But ladies both, it is a fine thing to see you here.


Anna MR said...

PS and Buber. Oh dear.