Re: Can an I-You event be painful?

[ Martin Buber - Discussions ]

Written by Bernard Rich at 14 Nov 2000 21:45:09:

As an answer to: Can an I-You event be painful? written by Josh at 20 Sep 2000 18:35:56:

>Does Buber ever deal with the idea that a relational event can be unpleasant?
>I'm trying to find situations in literature that correspond to I-You events, but in an unsettling way.
>Would "unpleasantness" just be an aspect of experience, which means it can only exist inside the realm of I-it? Can terms like "enjoyment" even be applied to I-You events?
>- Josh

The Between(as defined by Buber and adapted for therapeutic rather than theological understanding) is a functional relation between two or more persons in a particular moment of communication whose individual subjective aims have a mutual convergent focus (the exchange of sensorial events) which may function, if openness is allowed, to bind the participants to that momentary event.

The requirement is that each participant self-identify as well as take the role of the other while concentrating on the immediacy of the sensorial exchanges which each are sharing from their personal perspectives. While it is true that the above could applies to simple forms of communication, Buber points the way to the most thoroughgoing involvement which he calls dialog. This depth of involvement means accepting the risk of self-transformation. Thus the Between is not some esoteric category but a shared reality underlying all communication whose transformative function is revealed, when permitted, most fully in its higher phases.

Contact is both the being in touch with the immediacy of the sensorial exchange and allowing oneself to bring to bear one's relevant past, present and future. The point being that we normally respond and express ourselves in routinized ways (which expedite surface social life) and thus avoid the oppurtunity that may be available for personal growth.

Thus we are not talking about having “good feelings” here. We are concerned with the movement toward openness and authentic expression which may involve “unpleasantness” and strong disagreement. It is this honesty which may lead eventually toward a happier and/or sounder relationship.


[ Martin Buber - Discussions ]