empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. empathy requires knowing you know nothing. empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see.
empathy comes from the greek empatheia - em (“into”) and pathos (“feeling”) - a penetration, a kind of travel. it suggests you enter another person’s pain as you’d enter another country, through immigration and customs, border-crossing by way of query: what grows where you are? What are the laws? What animals graze there?
empathy isn’t just something that happens to us - a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain - it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves.
* from the empathy exams.
the solid body does not exist.
when you wake at 3am you don’t think
of your age or sex and rarely your name
or the plot of your life which has never
broken itself down into logical pieces.
at 3am you have the gift of incomprehension
* on saving daylight.
people who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.
* on the revolution of everyday life.
it’s beautiful to build a house and it’s beautiful to let the house be built.
many complain of the conflicts that arise in a shared life. i think the worst conflicts are the comfort zones. for good or bad. both, with the same destructive habit, potentiate the end of each - together. both, with the same tastes, desires and times, potentiate the legitimacy, the lack of space for the new in each.
conflictual is to see yourself from the outside and not be recognized. conflict is the moment between what i thought to be and what i am. conflict is the mismatch between yesterday and today, between illusion and reality - or simply evolution.
evolution is conflict.
and a house is built as a relationship builds. neither pure freedom nor total control: the value lies in both, on the balance between it all. it’s the architect that observes him/herself with the outside eye - the eye that narrates the meaning of storms and sunny days. those who have no desire to build lose very much of their individuality. and nothing can be more beautiful than look to the side and see an architect.
a project is useless if it’s not brought out of the paper. and a house will never look exactly the same as the initial drawing. maybe that bathroom which ended up too small or that design for the front gate that isn’t functional. you adapt it. or simply to plan a home and noticing that the dining room was never used and regreting just until you realize that the kitchen table has turned, with no big plans, into a space for a passionate moment at breakfast every single day.
and so is life.
it’s building and realizing what grows wild around you. being the master and the puppet of it all. the author and reader of your own narrative.
bending blades on the longest of days you’ve encountered in an ice age. keeping time with an old sun, beating down like it’s the last one. aren’t you so privileged to witness it fall? your observation makes you twice as small. in a day, cut a tall tree in two. build it high in the back by your self. burn it in the afternoon. aren’t you so privileged to witness it fall if you, for one moment, were moved by it all? but if you’re not caught in the moment i won’t mind. i won’t set my expectations high where they should be. what a slippery slope to climb!
when i find my feet, i would soon retreat to a tower made of ivory where i’d contemplate the mess i’ve made and take comfort in the temporary.
minha cabeça trovoa
sob meu peito te trovo e me ajoelho, destino canções pros teus olhos vermelhos, flores vermelhas, vênus, bônus, tudo o que me for possível ou menos, mais ou menos, me entrego, ofereço, reverencio a tua beleza - física também, mas não só. graças a deus você existe. acho que eu teria um troço se você dissesse que não tem negócio. te ergo com as mãos, sorrio mal, mal sorrio, meus olhos fechados te acossam fora de órbita, descabelada, diva, súbita, seja meiga, seja objetiva, seja faca na manteiga. pressinto como você chega, ligeira, vasculhando a minha tralha, bagunçando a minha cabeça, metralhando na quinquilharia que carrego comigo - clipes, grampos, tônicos - toda a dureza incrível do meu coração, feita em pedaços.
sob teu peito eu encontro a calmaria e o silêncio no portão da tua casa no bairro. famílias assistem tv - eu não - às 8 da noite. eu fumo um marlboro na rua como todo mundo e, como você, eu sei. quer dizer, eu acho que sei. vou sossegado e assobio e é porque eu confio em teu carinho, mesmo que ele venha num tapa, e caminho a pé pelas ruas da lapa - logo cedo, vapor, acredita? - a fuligem me ofusca, a friagem me cutuca, nascer do sol visto da vila ipojuca, o aço fino da navalha me faz a barba, o aço frio do metrô, o halo fino da tua presença. sozinha, na padóca em santa cecília, no meio da tarde, soluça - quer dizer - relembra, batucando com as unhas coloridas na borda de um copo de cerveja, resmunga quando vê que ganha chicletes de troco, lembrando que um dia eu falei ”sabe, você tá tão chique. meio freak, anos 70. fique. fica comigo. se você for embora eu vou virar mendigo. eu não sirvo pra nada, não vou ser teu amigo. fique. fica comigo.”
sob teu manto me entrego ao desafio de te dar um beijo, entender o teu desejo, me atirar pros teus peitos, meu amor é imenso, maior do que penso, é denso, espessa nuvem de incenso, de perfume intenso e o simples ato de cheirar-te me cheira a arte, me leva a marte, a qualquer parte, a parte que ativa a química. ignora a mímica e a educação física só se abastece de mágica, explode uma garrafa térmica por sobre as mesas de fórmica de um salão de cerâmica onde soem os cânticos. convicção monogâmica, deslocamento atômico para um instante único em que o poema mais lírico se mostre a coisa mais lógica, e se abraçar com força descomunal até que os braços queiram arrebentar toda a defesa que hoje possa existir e por acaso queira nos afastar esse momento tão pequeno e gentil e a beleza que ele pode abrigar.
querida, nunca mais se deixe esquecer onde nasce e mora todo o amor.
what i regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
all we love we leave behind.
i passed so many vacant acres and looked past them to so many more vacant acres and looked ahead and behind at the empty road and up at the empty sky; the sheer bigness of the world made me feel lonely to the bone. the world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. there are too many ideas and things and people, too many directions to go. i was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. it makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility. if i had been an orchid hunter i wouldn’t have seen this space as sad-making and vacant - i think i would have seen it as acres of opportunity where the things i loved were waiting to be found.
* on the orchid thief: a true story of beauty and obsession.
like you, i have forgotten. like you, i wanted my memory to be inconsolable, a memory of shadow and stone. i struggle for myself, everyday, with all my might, against the horror of no longer understanding the reason for remembering. like you, i have forgotten. why deny the obvious need to remember? listen to me, listen to me once more, it will start again.
i am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something i only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones. basically it is nothing other than this fear we have so often talked about, but fear spread to everything, fear of the greatest as of the smallest, fear, paralyzing fear of pronouncing a word, although this fear may not only be fear but also a longing for something greater than all that is fearful.
* kafka, on a letter to milena.
let us remind our poor men folk in dead and song
there are two types of men in this womanly world:
those who know they are weak,
those who think they are strong.
once i had a friend.
he had a big heart. and his heart kept getting bigger and bigger everyday. he died because his heart was too big. “cardiomyopathy” said the experts.
it can really hurt to have a big heart these days.
what do you most dislike about contemporary culture?
industrially sanctioned unkindness.