Levinas begins Totality and Infinity with a haunting allusion from the 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud, “though the true life is absent”, we are in the world. This lamentation is a fitting beginning for his exposition of a radical reformulation of an Ethics that precedes all thought, language, or systematic attempts to cast morality as a Truth. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. presented a lamentation for a dream of a world where the transcendence of race, creed, or classification of any kind could allow children to grow up to be first ethical human beings in relation to one another before identities. The source of this sorrow and lament points also to its relent; if we can dream and then imagine this “true life”, then we can begin to devote our strivings to bringing it to life, to manifesting something that is prior to our means-to-an-end destructive proclivities, in other words, an end to war. Both visionaries asked us to participate in the imagining or dreaming of a different future while drawing from a past that was absorbed in our collective ancient memories, visions of what was perhaps once ours as our ontogenetic and phylogenetic indigenous birthright, the “true life” of our human interconnection and interdependency.
LeBeau, C. S., & Sinclair, K. (2022). King, Levinas and the interruption of love: The alchemy of the fire fable. Middle Voices, 2 (1). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/middle_voices/vol2/iss1/2