Download The First Person Singular (SPEP) PDF

TitleThe First Person Singular (SPEP)
File Size1.2 MB
Total Pages156
Table of Contents
Part 1. Being Here
	1. A Chance to Be
	2. How I Come to Be Here
	3. Where I Am
Part 2. The Voice
	4. The Voice That Makes Contact
	5. The Exploratory Voice
	6. Words that Organize and That Command
Part 3. Word of Honor
	7. The Important and the Urgent
	8. I am a…
Part 4. Visions
	9. Our Visionary Body
	10. Oracular Words
Part 5. The Story of the I
	11. Chronicle and Story
	12. Fabled Places
	13. Wounds and Words
Part 6. Recognizing Others, Contacting You
	14. Recognition
	15. Contact
	16. You
	17. Strong Bonds
Part 7. What We Have to Say
	18. What Is Known
	19. When I Have to Speak
	20. What I Have to Say to Myself
	21. What I Have to Imagine
Part 8. My Own Voice
	22. Finding Our Own Voice
	23. The Representative Voice
	24. Eclipse
	25. To Know and to Acknowledge
Part 9. Dishonor
	26. To Thine Own Self Untrue
	27. Professional Dishonor
	28. The Established Dishonor
Part 10. Pariahs
	29. Outcast Honor
List of Photographs
Document Text Contents
Page 2


Page 78


R E C O G N I Z I N G O T H E R S , C O N T A C T I N G Y O U

alien to us and who live in regions uninhabitable by us, even in those who
are most set up against us�the riot policemen mutely blocking the way
of our demonstration�we divine a subtext of erotic posturing and parad-
ing, understand one another and are drawn to one another.

Human infants laugh and weep before they can speak, and they laugh
and weep with one another�s laughter and tears. Human infants, and
now biologists,3 recognize that chimpanzees, prairie dogs, and rats laugh.
The distinctive colors, patterns, and cries that individuals recognize and
that are attractive to others of their kind may also attract individuals of
another species. Golden pheasants join � ocks and courtship circles of
Lady Amherst pheasants; buffalo have mated with yaks, lions with tigers,
bottlenose dolphins with false killer whales. In their dealing with both
other species in nature and domesticated species, humans have always
felt con� dent that they can recognize their pleasures and distresses over
losses; we also recognize and are attracted by the ornamentation and se-
ductive games of other species.4 We adorn ourselves with plumes, furs,
tusks, shells, � owers; the courtship dances of cranes, bustards, and ruffs
taken up in Japan, the Middle East, and Africa still shape the new fashions
of our courting.

Page 79




Every day I realize that others looking at me and talking about me or to
me are only addressing some role I occupy in a society, some work I am
performing, the white collar, overalls, or tank top I am wearing: they see
and address the offi ce worker, the farmer, the beach bum. While I—this
individual me—think for myself and act on my own, behind that image
they see. Doesn’t it work the other way too? The agent or agency inside
my head listening and interpreting is decoding according to its own code.
So we are insistently told that we have to be made to recognize this and
examine that code, its ethnic, class, race, and gender categories and para-
digms. When someone there is standing before us, speaking directly to us,
don’t we have to take into account how this is the male or the female point
of view, the urban or nomadic perspective, the way corporate offi cials or
black prisoners see things, the way our cronies, out of so many shared
interests and amusements, or the way Jamaicans or Thais in the tourist or
the sex industry talk to people like us?

Yet it happens every day that someone exterior to me approaches
and makes contact with me. “Hey you!” “Hey Al!” In the diffuse hubbub of
the environment, how I feel these words coming straight at me! They have
penetrated right through the garb, the pantomime, the role, and found
me. The appeal they make singles out the real me, whatever I can take to
be me; the demand they make is put on me. Each time I do answer on my
own, I have found it undeniable that that is what has happened. I may well
sense immediately that he who stands before me and addresses me has a
mistaken idea of what I am and what I have done, but how his word “you”
touches the real me to arise behind that mistaken idea!

When someone with whom I have been in touch only by telephone
for a long time greets me, “Hey Al! Come in! How happy I am to see
you!” I feel, I know that I—the real me, this individual—am welcomed.
When I am insulted, the words and the gestures touch me inwardly: I can
brush them off, ignore them, dismiss them with contempt, act as though
my status and my composure are utterly unaffected, but inwardly I am
humiliated, wounded, diminished, mortifi ed. When someone apologizes
to me for some tactless or slighting words, for some hurt or outrage, the
words penetrate right to the core of my life, which is vindicated, rein-
stated, restored. When someone is speechless at the sight of me, visibly

Page 156

About the Author

Alphonso Lingis is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Penn State Uni-
versity and the author of numerous books, including The Imperative, Dan-
gerous Emotions, Trust, and, most recently, Body Transformations. He is also
the preeminent English translator of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Em-
manuel Levinas. His translations include Merleau- Ponty’s The Visible and
the Invisible and Pierre Klossowski’s Sade My Neighbor, both published by
Northwestern University Press.

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