Close to my final exams in Bible studies—an exam in which Alek showed a surprising interest—I adopted the verb “to know” as it is used in the Book of Genesis as part of my inner language: What, for example, did Adam know about his wife Eve? He didn’t ask, investigate, clarify things to enable him to “know about” her, and nor did she, for her part, “know about” him. Adam knew Eve his wife, and Eve, so I decided, knew Adam. And this primordial knowledge, whatever its meaning, seemed to me the highest level of relationship. A kind of pristine knowledge, preceding words and names. An illumination that does not need biographical data, and is always felt as a miracle.
And even today, years later, I’m not sure that this subliminal knowledge was a total illusion. That is to say, if I were asked my official, rational opinion, it would be that it is impossible to know someone whose language you don’t speak, whose memories you haven’t investigated, whose associations are all foreign to you. A man for whom sounds and smells, words and tastes and concepts are associated with images about which you haven’t got a clue. That’s my opinion, I have no argument to contradict it, and nevertheless, in spite of my irrefutable opinion, what is it that happens when he turns my face to him, when he looks into my face, when I look at him while we’re fucking? What else can I call it but pure knowledge? And a kind of recognition, as if we were predestined to know, and that nothing else is possible for me.
With the passing of the years, the more I thought about it, the more clearly I saw how much bullshit is involved in this kind of “knowing.” “He looked into her eyes until he saw to the depths of her soul.” “And then, in a moment of grace, his soul was revealed to her.” “They were soul mates,” and all the rest of that romantic novelette rubbish. So he fucks me with his eyes open, so I look at him without fantasizing, so I come at the same time as him without taking my eyes off him, so—what does it mean?
I say: It’s sentimental crap, I think it’s crap, it’s clear to me that it’s crap, an nevertheless, against my better judgment, I still feel it as a miracle, and I am still full of the grace of that knowledge.
—Gail Hareven (tr. Dalya Bilu), The Confessions of Noa Weber (Melville House, 2009)