The IT Factor


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

not arriving

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

without stopping

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.