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Thursday, 24 October 2013

Il, Ile, Illeité

Been in a Jabès event with the presence of his grand-daughter, Aurèle Crasson. Yesterday I gave a talk in portuguese. Today we were discussing the first lines of Jabès Récit:

Il et son féminin Ile

Il n’existe pas Il est Ile
Seul l’océan existe

The question that arises is that of an third person outside the dialogue - outside the I-thou. The il is an island, isolated and away. The only thing that exists is the ocean, the gap between us and the island. This gap is the substance of otherness - of the distance that constitutes otherness. The stranger doesn't exist in itself, only as an island kept apart by the ocean, the ocean that keeps it apart and makes it reachable only by crossing what is strange. Il and île are connected to Lévinas illeité.
He writes that "illeité - néologisme formé sur il ou ille - indique une façon de me concerner sans entrer en conjonction avec moi."(Autrement que l'être, 1, 6). The contrast is with Buber's thou: il is not in a conjunction with me, it is away, alien, separated from me - an island at a distance.

But the ocean is not an island: it is in conjunction with me. It is a mediation, a process by means of which I connect with the third person as an other. It is the otherness of others that do exist for me. It is the non-familiarity - maybe like Whitehead's extended continuum that surrounds all entity that I can meet. Otherness precedes any other - like an otherness that surrounds any object. This otherness is in conjunction with me.

1 comment:

  1. "Le chemin qui me rapproche de toi est sûr, même lorsqu'il débouche sur les océans." Livre des questions, Reb Daber, 49