Monday, October 26, 2009

Another Reader's Query II

'I would like to hear your take on the distinction/relation between solitude and silence—and silence-experienced-in-community and silence-experienced-in-solitude. Please substitute a word of your own choosing for 'experienced'—known?? done??'

In the initial response to this query, I wrote: 'The word experience is particularly problematic in the present cultural climate that exalts fashionable subjectivity that objectifies the world."

There is a curious paradox here. The present culture's exaltation of "experience" objectifies the world, thereby distorting it to serve our prejudices and reinforce our consumer-oriented (especially spiritual consumer-oriented) feedback loops, not to mention greed. At the same time there is an insidious message conveyed by current use of the word ("banking experience, eating experience, religious experience etc.") that implies that our "experience" somehow gives us an "objective" platform from which to judge, when the opposite is in fact true: to rely on "experience" is entirely subjective. This subjectivity, curiously, eliminates the subject who would be present in a genuine "I-You" engagement (Buber again), from which we would receive a far more objective (as opposed to objectified) impression than "how-I-experienced-you" claims would give us, although this impression would be impossible to articulate except from its traces, due to the self-forgetfulness of I-You.


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