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Cover art for Carency's song: Alterity




Sociologist Osawa once remarked: "When I realize what I might call 'alterity' already exists within me, I am struck by a sense of indebtedness, a realization of my interconnectedness that brought me to this point, and I am reminded of myself anew." This statement awakens me to the undeniable fact that I have sustained myself on the lives of other plants and animals and been nurtured within the cradle of society. Philosopher Levinas, on the other hand, asserted that alterity, by its very nature unknowable and ever-changing, confronts us with a constant choice: to reject or embrace this alien otherness that approaches. In retrospect, I wonder if I have often rejected them to prove my righteousness, clinging to a proud but superficial self. Throughout human history, this alterity has stood as a wall before us, an anomaly, a catalyst for the development of science, technology, and thought that form the bedrock of modern society. On the other hand, alterity has also been the source of countless historical tragedies, fueling fear, suspicion, and the rage that drives the "us versus them" dichotomy. I still struggle to grasp the diversity demanded of us in this modern world. No matter how much I try to dismiss it with external justifications based on ideology, biological perspectives, or economic strategies, the deep-seated discomfort, resistance, and pain within me relentlessly lead to self-denial and self-contradiction. As I spread superficial tolerance, I seem to be rejecting the universality of human connection, yet deep down I am a bigot demanding it. The other who both sustains and destroys me. The other I cannot reject or fully accept. I will pay more attention to the alterity that already exists within ourselves, in the "not-me" that is not you, and the "not-you" that is not me. I am convinced that the "sense of indebtedness" suggested by the sociologist at the beginning can be universally experienced as embodied knowledge, regardless of cultural, ideological, or social background. Only when a new form of tolerance is shared among people, even if each bears wounds and pain and follows a different good, will we truly become "I." You and I, each embracing our otherness, step into the dance of "we." This may be the dawn of a new era, one that humanity has never before crossed.

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Date Pressed
April 29, 2024
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