Saturday, October 22, 2005

For Emmanuel Levinas

I do not take upon myself the fate of the Other
Out of duty or
Legal obligation
Or to gain a sense of self-satisfaction

Because reasoned argument commends it
Or theocratic decree demands it

I live, and learn through experience

Nor do I give your suffering meaning
By sharing your pain
Implicating injustice in a grand plan
Blaming humanity’s crimes on The Creator

I look on, and scream in silence

Nor do I imagine you to be
By your presence
A fragment of Merciful essence

And my acts a ritual of prostration before
Your purifying lamp

I am real, and worship in secret

My love
Is above laws, reason, duty, even being

Inimitable, transcendent

Wholly unneeded
Yet absolutely necessary

Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) was a Lithuanian-born social theorist whose writings on ethics have influenced a number of contemporary thinkers, including the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman. Although much of his working life was spent in France, Levinas studied with and was influenced by Husserl and Heidegger. The spiritual dimension of his writings was also influenced by his readings of the Talmud.

1 comment(s):

  • Thank you for sharing this. (Just found my way to your blog, from a link in somebody else's sidebar, and wanted to drop a quick comment to say hello.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/10/2005 03:36:00 PM  

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