Friday, October 24, 2008

Quote: Alienation and Relation

For [philosopher Martin] Buber, life consists principally in 'meeting,' but this deep, joyous sociability is less frequent and vigorous in a society where the I-It mentality prevails. In societies where trust is eroded, people are less willing and, as a rule, less able to risk authentic self-expression and self-disclosure. They flee solitude and sociability alike. The natural dialectic between these states of being is deranged and displaced by an indiscriminate and superficial sociability, as well as by ideologies of extreme individualism, both of which are impoverished and artificial.

The violence done to the human soul in these circumstances renders us insensible to our loss of both interiority and meaningful connection. In such societies sexuality and spirituality both suffer. Ideally, said Buber, sexuality and spirituality ought to be vehicles for the experience and expression of the sense of wholeness conferred or elicited in the context of an I-Thou relationship. But absent a 'consecration' of the instincts mediated by an I-Thou relationship, Buber explained, sexual desire either becomes atavistic and insatiable, or withers, as the act of 'love making' becomes mechanical and boring. And where trust is minimal or non-existent, self-disclosure and self-expression become attenuated, and our longing for the sacred becomes contaminated with infantilism and the furtive expressions of unfulfilled desires.

-- Daniel Burston (references in original)

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