Thursday 17 December 2015

Phenomenology and misericordia

Dipping into the Manganaro book on Edith Stein (P. Manganaro, F. Nodari, ed. Ripartire da Edith Stein: La scoperta di alcuni manoscritti inediti, Quaderni per l'Università 4, Brescia: Morcelliana, 2014) - all sorts of thoughts about phenomenology.

Stein obviously is doing phenomenology of interiority in its most concrete sense, in the sense that she brackets nothing - not existence, not history, not relationships, not the Other, not God. Talk about "return to the concrete."

The phenomenology of relationships is extremely interesting. Like I am listening to a homily. It is in Italian, and in both language and content not exactly simple: the man who is speaking is theologically well-read and competent; he also knows he is well-read and competent. He is also, to my judgment, somewhat closed - or at least that is the kind of "rash judgment" to which I come listening to him reacting, almost without thinking, to something I said on Swami Shilananda, SJ. So while listening to the homily there is also this background music in my mind: this man is good, he is competent, his grasp of theology is admirable, but he, like others, is prone to judgment. La violenza del pensiero, degli atteggiamenti. La violenza del giudizio. There comes to mind Heidegger: la violenza dell'interpretatione. Man is the violent in the midst of the overwhelming, he says in What is Metaphysics. And, in contrast, the non-violenza del dialogo, the opposite attitude that must characterize true dialogue. Then of course attention shifts to the violenza del mio pensiero, dei miei atteggiamenti, dei miei giudizi in confronto a quello che sta parlando. E poi, alla misericordia. Alla chiamata, ad essere misericordiosi come il Padre nostro è misericordioso. And then the flash, the thought: this is what is meant by graced interiority, this is what perhaps Stein found when she was doing her phenomenology of concrete interiority, with all stops pulled out. She found that there was a More, an Other, a Beyond, that broke into her Self, that invited her, called her. And things change. From thinking: questo qua è tipico, he is judgmental, to: I am judgmental. I am called to misericordia, to compassion, or simply, very simply, to positive regard, because that is how I have been treated, that is what I have experienced: the misericordia di Dio, la infinita bontà di Dio. Basta.

And another instance. This time I am in a group, we are discussing something. There is this person, and I am aware of the many and complex layers in the relationship. What he is saying. Where he is going. Where he appears to be going. What he says about where he is going. And where he is really actually going. And then my reading of all this, and my caution: attenzione, a non cadere nella trappola. An attenzione that translates non into open violence, but into the hidden violence of reserve, of judgment: troppo difficile, troppo pericoloso. This relationship like all relationships is laden with history, but this one particularly more so. There are relationships that are on an even keel. There are others that are 'alive'. The issues are alive, and, if you care to enter, so are the feelings. 

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