AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

30 May 2018

Presence.

Raphael, Study of a Face, 1509


The days and nights a person has lived seep into their presence in the countenance. It is interesting that the Latin root of the word face is “facies,” meaning the shape or form of the head, which is derived from the verb “facere,” which means “to make.” This background confirms the artistic and active force of the face. Neither a surface nor a cover, the face is a doorway to the soul. When you gaze into someone’s face, a pathway opens, resonant with [a] life and memory. You glimpse what life has made or unmade, woven or unravelled in that life. Each face fronts a different world. The philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “My body is the awareness of the gaze of the other.” We are animated though the presence of the other. Every face is a window outwards and inwards on a unique life. Of course, in dance and in theatrical activity, the whole body becomes expressive. Because others can see us, our lives never remain merely ours alone. The openness of the face shows that we participate in the lives of others. Presence to each other is the door to all belonging. And nowhere in the universe is longing so powerfully present as in the human countenance.

John O'Donohue

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