The Sound Of It
The rain stopped
you never hear it stop
then the dripping from the trees and then
how could anyone hear it not falling
not arriving and then
other things must be happening that way
unheard all around us
you never hear the dog stop barking
whether you are listening or not
we hear things start up and go on
calling and shrieking and singing
saying hello saying good-bye but not stopping is that the way it is
is there no sound of stopping
and no sound to
the stopping of stopping
then no sound
W.S. Merwin, Garden Time (Bloodaxe: 2016)
The ancient Greek expression for ‘it rains’ is ‘Huei ho Zeus (or theos)’: Zeus or God lets it rain. This divine subject transforms what happens into an act. Apparently, Western thinking finds it hard to conceive of a subject-less happening, a being-so, a simple being-there. The pronoun ‘it’, as a phantom subject, is an empty reflex of this subjectivizing thinking. In Old Chinese, by contrast, a simple sign – yu, meaning ‘rain’ or ‘raining’ – stands for ‘it rains’.
The sign simply depicts falling raindrops. It does not indicate that there is anyone who lets it rain. The Chinese draw a few raindrops on paper. The sign yu is a very prosaic representation, a simple noticing of a happening, of a being-so that is simply there.
Byung-Chul Han, Absence: On the Culture and Philosophy of the Far East. (Polity: 2023)
Something to think about the next time you hear someone say “he/she just has IT!”. In my humble opinion, I think we all have It. I think we all are It.