The Face of the Other

November 17, 2014 10:20 PM

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Who isn't yearning for a precious week in the summer at a cabin in the woods, off-line with a lake, a book and a Pendleton blanket? Heck, who doesn't have a shred of nostalgia for the simple pause of looking into another's eyes instead of finding heads turned to iPhones when we walk down the street? Remember when you once had to decide whether to acknowledge the other's face, to look away or to stare (the French do this on the metro quite well)? Thankfully the theater, like the church, mosque, temple, yoga class or cabin in the woods, allows us to tune off screens and contemplate that space where the self faces the other.

How do we respond to the face of the other -- the person we encounter not as some projection of ourselves but as unique? This ethical question underpins the writings of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995). It's also a question at the heart of a terrific play I just saw. Since I left David A...

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