Cultural Exchange 1 (Part 5)

In Totality & Infinity, Levinas posits that these are the two choices we have in the face of the other: to exert our totalizing forces and define the other, or to open ourselves up to the unknowable infinity in the other’s face. This is the dilemma of social interaction. But what happens when the face is replaced by a screen? Does it become easier to separate the autonomous other from the self?

I can tell you that initially I was bemused. I thought that perhaps he was someone who enjoyed getting a rise out of others, which would have explained his assignment of feeling/motive to me and my friend in my previous interaction. Not being sure if that was indeed what was going on, I decided to respond authentically. I am not a stranger to these situations–two different people with two different understandings of the way the world works at odds over meaning-making–and tend to throw a crumb to see what, if anything, bites. I was prepared for confusion, and I was prepared for the possibility that he wanted someone to engage with and to that end he might continue his challenging leaps in logic. I was, am always and will remain always, unsuspecting of the possibility of name-calling and personal attacks, because I believe that we are better than that behavior.

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