Martin Buber (1878-1965)

1961 – Allen sought out “all the holy men I could find”. “I wanted to find out if they had any suggestions. And they all did, and they were all good ones.” – “First one I saw was Martin Buber, who was interested (interesting). In Jerusalem, Peter (Orlovsky) and I went to see him – we called him up and made a date and had a long conversation. He had a beautiful white beard and was friendly, his nature was slightly austere but benevolent. Peter asked him what kind of visions he’d had and he described some he’d had in bed when he was younger. But he said he was not any longer interested in visions like that. The kind of visions he came up with were more like spiritualistic table-rappings. Ghosts coming into the room through his window rather than big beautiful seraphic Blake angels hitting him on the head. I was thinking like loss of identity and confrontation with non-human universe as the main problem, and in a sense whether or not man had to evolve and change, and perhaps become nonhuman too. Melt into the universe, let us say – to put it awkwardly and inaccurately. Buber said that he was interested in man-to-man relationships, human-to-human, that he thought it was a human universe that we were destined to inhabit. And so therefore human relationships rather than relations between the human and the nonhuman. Which was what I was thinking that I had to go into. And he said, “Mark my word, young man, in two years you will realize I was right”. He was right – in two years I marked his words. Two years is ’63. I saw him in ’61. I don’t know if he’d said “two years” – but he said “in years to come”. This was like a real terrific classical wise man’s “Mark my words, young man. in several years you will realize that what I said was true!” Exclamation point.” (Allen, in 1967, talking to Tom Clark, in the Paris Review Interview),

I And Thou” – (“Ich und Du”) – one of the great Jewish philosophers, Jewish wise men, Martin Buber, was born on this day.

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