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A Tree or Another or a Lover
After Martin Buber and his English translator Ronald Gregor Smith
I can look on a tree or another or a lover as a picture—stiff figure in a shock of light, or splash of brown shot with the delicate blue and silver of the background.
I can perceive a lover as movement—flowing veins on clinging, pressing pith, suck of the soles, ceaseless commerce with earth and air—and the obscure growth itself.
I can classify a lover and study a lover as a type of structure and mode of life.
I can subdue a lover’s actual presence and form so sternly that I recognize a lover only as an expression of law.
I can dissipate a lover and perpetuate a lover in number, in pure numerical relation.
In all this a lover remains my object, occupies space and time, and has nature and constitution.
It can, however, come about, if I have both will and grace, that in considering a lover I become bound up in relation. A lover is now no longer to be an object.
To effect this it is not necessary for me to give up any of the ways in which I consider a lover, that is simply a slight shift of pronoun,
that is to say
a lover is you.
There is nothing from which I would have to turn my eyes away in order to see you, and no knowledge that I would have to forget to know you. Rather there is everything: your picture and your movement, your species and your type, your law and your number, indivisibly united in this event.
Everything belonging to you is in this: your form and your structure, your contours and your chemical composition, your intercourse with the elements and with the stars, are all present in your single whole.
You are no impression, no play of my imagination depending on my mood; but you are bodied over against me and have to do with me, as I with you—only in a different way.
Let no attempt be made to sap the strength from the meaning of this relation.
as I am bound up in this, as
you are bodied over against me.
John Pluecker is a writer, interpreter, translator and co-founder of the language justice and literary experimentation collaborative Antena. His work is informed by experimental