Arriving in Holland yesterday in the plane that took me from Detroit to Schiphol airport I strained, as always on my frequent returns, to discern the Dutch coastline through the rain streaming past my window, while below there appeared only the grey green waves of the North Sea. When a part of the coast finally became visible the plane was already heading inland and everything below turned into green squares. Later in the train, looking out at the green countryside, my sister and I are chased out of our compartment because a large S on the window admonishes all travelers to keep quiet which after our year-long separation is not really possible. Once installed in my quarters at her comfortable apartment, the air clears, the sun has come out, glimmering in the midst of the usual gigantic white clouds.
Under this immense canopy of sky and cloud, I wrestle with the thoughts of Emmanuel Levinas, whose concepts at times feel as far outside my grasp as the sky around me. About “otherness” Levinas observes that “the other’s face…, or the other’s speech… interrupts and distorts the order of my , ego’s, world; it makes a hole in it by disarraying the previous order.” That seems about right to me.
Quote on p.21 in To The Other: An Introduction To The Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1993) by Adriaan Peperzak.