Saturday, November 23, 2013

PlayBook: I and Thou by Martin Buber

Some ideas are difficult to express with only one word. For example, some clocks merely tick while others tick-tock. Even as you read this, you can hear the different sounds in your head. Take a second:

Tick, tick, tick, tick

(Pause. Clear your head. Ready?)

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock

There’s a difference and I am compelled to make the distinction by using a single word for the first sound while using a hyphenated word for the other. I suppose I could use a string of words to describe the latter idea, but it conveys a denser meaning to use the shorter hyphenated form. I say tick-tock and you instantly know what I mean.

Martin Buber, Jewish philosopher, has written a short but brilliant treatise that asserts the world in which we live is an entirely hyphenated world. Existence is intrinsically relational—whether that relation is with nature, other people or God.

The title of the book is I and Thou but it could have also been titled I-Thou or I-It.

To say the word “I” presupposes an “other” to whom (or which) we relate. We cannot say “I” without having some other thing or person form the context that gives meaning to that “I”.  Here, I’ll try it.

To read the rest of the review, hop on over to PlayFull for the latest installment of a series called PlayBooks. 

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