Thanking consists in receiving with embracing hands what is given, holding it together, and showing it to, sharing it with, others. Speaking and writing about what one has seen, and experienced – what one has been given – can be thoughtful, can be thankful. Thoughtful speaking and writing put forth the overall design and inner force of the data – the given – detailing their aspects and inner relationships for view, sharing them with others.
Thoughtfulness begins in opening one’s heart to what is given. It involves vulnerability and risk. Truth means seeing what exceeds the possibility of seeing, what is intolerable to see, what exceeds the possibility of thinking, Georges Bataille wrote. “And I would not know what is, what happens, if I did not know extreme pleasure, if I did not know extreme pain!”
In speaking one can put onself forth, to counteract one’s sense of vulnerability. But in thoughtful speech one instead seeks only to offer to others what one has been given to see. In thoughtful writing one loses sight of onself, and one writes not for a distinct person but for anyone. For a reader I am only a self-effaced one who offers what has been given to see and to celebrate or suffer.
But gratitude – thoughtfulness – can also silence all talk.
-Alphonso Lingis, Trust, “Reticence” pp 193