The Flight from God – Max Picard


In whatever has an organic pattern, each part knows its position and knows it at every moment. In the Flight, however, where everything is in a turmoil—for all wish to be in the forefront simultaneously—a man only knows where he is by a signal, a signal from without.


Man is so lost in the Flight that now he is merely aware that the structure of the Flight is there, but he has forgotten that he himself is there. There is something that flees, but he no longer knows that it is himself. I, I, he calls continually, calling to himself as though he were trying to discover whether or not he is still there. I, where are you, I, my brother?—and again he makes the reply: I, I. Perhaps he suspects that there is one who searches for him and, as though he were anxious not to miss the call of the one who searches (in this situation of being lost he would allow even God to search for him and to call him, but only as a servant calls and then vanishes), he replies in advance, as though he wished to have something to fall back upon: I, I. He does not even know whether he or another at his side has answered, for in the Flight the distinction between one man and another is effaced.  All together make one shapeless mass, and from within this mass man continually cries I, I, as if it were possible for oneself to escape from the confused tangle, as if one could cajole oneself by means of the call into making the escape. This I does not purport to mean I exist, but only: I am here. Wilhelm von Humboldt says that in the language of some peoples the I is equivalent to here: all the people of the Flight call out: I, I, and mean by it: Here, here. They do not want to tell us what they are, not even that they are, only that they are here. Subjectivism, the crying out of the I, is no longer used to indicate the mode of an existence, only the mode without existence. Subjectivism has no more than a topographical value.


In the Flight a person does not distinguish himself because he wants to manifest his being; he merely wants to show that he is somewhere. Being is no longer supremely important; it is only a means to make the person externally distinct. The kind of subjectivism no longer exists by which a man, from the depths of being, shows himself plainly before man and before God. Nothing remains but a kind of formal subjectivism according to which all being and all that is within being are used to give man a sharp outline that he may be aware of himself in the turmoil of the Flight.
-Max Picard, The Flight from God


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One Response to The Flight from God – Max Picard

  1. Timing is next to everything.

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