Skip to main content

Full text of "I And Thou"

See other formats

there is a happening profoundly twofold,  confusedly
In the "beginning is relation.
Consider the speech of "primitive" peoples, that is,
of those that have a meagre stock of objects, and whose
life is built up within a narrow circle of acts highly
charged with presentness. The nuclei of this speech,
words in the form of sentences and original pre-gram-
matical structures (which later, splitting asunder, give
rise to the many various kinds of words), mostly indicate
the wholeness of a relation. We say " far away " ; the
Zulu has for that a word which means, in our sentence
form, " There where someone cries out: * O mother,
I am lost.' " The Fuegian soars above our analytic
wisdom with a seven - syllabled word whose precise
meaning is, "They stare at one another, each waiting
for the other to volunteer to do what both wish, but
are not able to do." In this total situation the persons,
as expressed both in nouns and pronouns, are embedded,
still only in relief and without finished independence.
The chief concern is not with these products of analysis
and reflection but with the true original unity, the lived
We greet the" man we meet, wishing him well or
assuring him of our devotion or commending him to God*
But how indirect these worn-out formulas are f What
do we discern even dimly in " Hail!" of the original
conferring of power ? Compare these with the ever
fresh Kaffir greeting, with its direct bodily relation,
" I see you!" or with its ridiculous and sublime
American variant, ** Smell me ! "