Martin Buber: Between Man and Man

Each of us is encased in an armour whose task is to ward off signs.  Signs happen to us without respite, living means being addressed, we would need only to present ourselves and to perceive.  But the risk is too dangerous for us, the soundless thunderings seem to threaten us with annihilation, and from generation to generation we perfect the defence apparatus.  All our knowledge assures us, “Be calm, everything happens as it must happen, but nothing is directed at you, you are not meant; it is just ‘the world’, you can experience it as you like, alone, nothing is required of you, you are not addressed, all is quiet.”

Each of us is encased in an armour which we soon, out of familiarity, no longer notice. There are only moments which penetrate it and stir the soul to sensibility.  And when such a moment has imposed itself on us and we then take notice and ask ourselves, “Has anything particular taken place? Was it not of the kind I meet every day?” then we may reply to ourselves, “Nothing particular, indeed, it is like this every day, only we are not there every day.”

The signs of address are not something extraordinary, something that steps out of the order of things, they are just what goes on time and again, just what goes on in any case, nothing is added by the address.  The waves of the aether roar on always, but for most of the time we have turned off our receivers.