Sunday, April 13, 2008

Riding the Bus and Subjectivity

So, I just finished an excellent essay by my good friend Paul on Personalist Thomism, a movement that I see as solving in a great part many of the abuses against the human person that the 20th Century has spawned. Maybe I'll upload his essay once/if I obtain his permission. In the meanwhile I highly recommend anything by Fr. Norris Clarke of Fordham University or JPII of the World ;-)

Anyway, the main drive of the paper as I see it is the irreducibility of the person to an object. Persons are ALWAYS inherently subjects. Now, by subject is meant someone who does the same kinds of things you do: think, will, participate in an interior life, love, dream. Everyone you meet is like this, whether you take the time to notice it or not.

I have a thought though... see, when we interact with other human beings, unless we can really befriend them they tend to just interact on the level of objects in our world... not in a necessarily dehumanizing way, just in a friendship of utility way. I find that when I "people watch" in some place like a bus or coffee shop (not anything like Hitchcock's Rear Window, that is just weird, thanks Paul), it is very easy to see them as subjects. Why? Because of the silence. They are participating in their interior life, a life that I will never participate in, a life that, if I am lucky, I will be able to catch glimpses of by spending my entire life getting to know one person.

There is a phrase I can't recall the origin of but speaks to this in a very Lewisian sense, "The only response to the presence/face of the infinite is silence." Here you are sitting in a group of strangers (it happens a lot) and it overwhelms you... all these little infinities off in their own - not little, never little - vast worlds. Can't you just sit back and glory in the wonders all around you?

That, my friends, is why I like riding the bus.

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