Thursday, 8 September 2011

A note on forgiveness

[...] le prochain, mon frère, l’homme, infiniment moins autre que l’absolument autre, est, en un certain sense, plus autre que Dieu : pour obtenir son pardon le jour du Kippour, je dois au préalable obtenir qu’il s’apaise.

– Levinas, Quatre lectures talmudiques (Paris: Minuit, cop. 1968, repr. 2002), 36-37.

An approximation in English: My fellow man, my brother (yes, it is a good question to ask: why always or most often in Levinas the masculine gender, why "brother" and not "sister"?), the human being, infinitely "less other" than the absolutely other, is, in a certain sense, "more other" than God. To obtain God's forgiveness on the Day of Atonement, it is required that we are at peace with our fellow man.

Doesn't this mean that the "cultivation of intimacy" – whose preëminent figure is the intimacy with God, in prayer, for instance, or the silent negotiation with one's conscience – is always, always already interrupted by "a third party"?

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