What does it mean to be a tourist inside someone else’s suffering? Sometimes, it means taking a bus ride through Los Angeles’s gang-ridden neighborhoods, or watching a former addict bleed and sweat and grow blisters as he tries to run a hundred miles, or visiting a man in jail.
Leslie Jamison has done all that, and more.
But how does another person’s suffering affect one’s own emotional intelligence? What are you supposed to do with someone else’s pain?
Jamison does not know the answer. But she searches for it by writing about episodes of attempted empathy in her own life—for example, the time she became “obsessed” with her brother’s bout of Bell’s palsy: “I spent large portions of each day imagining how I would feel if my face was paralyzed too. I stole my brother’s trauma and projected it onto myself like a magic-lantern pattern of light.” Was that empathy, Jamison wonders, or was it a kind of emotional theft?
Read more. [Image: Colleen Kinder]
John Green, Paper Towns
“Some of the most beautiful places in Iceland, Mývatn Lake, the Þjórsá River, and the Highlands, are in danger after the Icelandic government recently announced plans to revoke 30-year-old environmental protections so that new hydropower plants can be built. My brother and I recently hiked 115 miles across Iceland — to the Lake of Eternal Life — to visit these places and make a short film showcasing their natural beauty. ” Check out more from brothers Hank and Brian Leukart at withoutbaggage.com.
Due allowance being made for the sounds of the language, writing aloud is not phonological but phonetic; its aim is not the clarity of messages, the theater of emotions; what it searches for (in a perspective of bliss) are the pulsional incidents, the language lined with flesh, a text where we can hear the grain of the throat, the patina of consonants, the voluptuousness of vowels, a whole carnal stereophony: the articulation of the body, of the tongue, not that of meaning, of language. A certain art of singing can give an idea of this vocal writing; but since melody is dead, we may find it more easily today at the cinema. In fact, it suffices that the cinema capture the sound of speech close up (this is, in fact, the generalized definition of the “grain” of writing) and make us hear in their materiality, their sensuality, the breath, the gutturals, the fleshiness of the lips, a whole presence of the human muzzle (that the voice, that writing, be as fresh, supple, lubricated, delicately granular and vibrant as an animal’s muzzle), to succeed in shifting the signified a great distance and in throwing, so to speak, the anonymous body of the actor into my ear: it granulates, it crackles, it caresses, it grates, it cuts, it comes: that is bliss.
The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes (via man-of-prose)
Mohadesa Najumi (via thatkindofwoman)
Mary Oliver (via thatkindofwoman)