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The knife's edge : empathy in poetry, science writing, and sacrifice 2006

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The Knife's Edge: Empathy in Poetry, Science Writing, and Sacrifice by Karen G. P. Cooper B . S c , Western Wash ing ton Un ive r s i ty , 1978 M . C . S . , Regent Co l l ege , 1992 M . F . A . , Un ive r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Interdisciplinary Studies) UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA ©Karen G . P. Cooper 2006 A B S T R A C T This dissertation argues that empathy is a nuanced and paradoxical capacity, which in action puts at risk 1) the common language perceptions of empathy as the intuitive grasp of another's emotional state, 2) our ability to set ourselves empathically apart from those who commit reprehensible acts, and 3) even our very belief in certain forms of severe trauma. The initial dissertation section, "Preliminary Materials," explores common language approaches to empathy alongside more technical definitions of empathy and other terms, especially sympathy. I contend for a version of empathy as a fundamental human capacity which may be deployed in both pro- and anti-social fashions. Case Study I presents four poems. Analysis of the first poem leads to the conclusion that empathy as popularly conceived is impossible. The writer finds in the poem not a representation of the other, but a reflection of herself. Analyses of the other three poems invoke current scientific thinking in the areas of brain science, psychology, and neuro-linguistics. Within this context, a form of empathy which is more like mirroring or resonance is recuperated as mean- ingful. Case Study II examines the strategies by which an article about an Incan sacrificial site engages and disengages the reader's empathy with various parties, including the writer of the article, the Incan priests and other adults, and the sacrificed Incan children. I conclude that empathy potentially leads to identification with not only the victims, but also the perpetrators, of violence. Further, many textual strategies work precisely to inhibit or deflect this latter identification. Case Study III attempts, by a series of analogies, to illuminate at depth the experience of severe trauma and its aftermaths, and thereby to es- tablish an empathic connection for the reader with the experience of such trauma. A Coda claims that, while Case Study III succeeds in many ways, certain aspects also fail, thereby pointing to ways in which empathy, by inducing trauma in the beholder, can actively contribute to the inexpressibility of trauma and consequent disbelief. "Hearts and Tongues," a creative essay, closes the dissertation by inter-weaving personal and academic experiences of empathy. iii Table of Contents Abstract ii Acknowledgements viii Dedication ix Dissertation Introduction 1 A Story 1 Introduction to Empathy 5 A Rough Topography 6 Preliminary Materials: 6 Case Study I: Four Poems 7 Case Study II: On Freezing Gently 8 Case Study III: Role Drama 9 Essay: Hearts and Tongues 9 Why a Story? 9 Glossary 13 Preliminary Materials 17 Issues & Presuppositions '. 17 Agency, Choice, Determinism 20 Similarity and Identity '. 22 Digression: Color and Space 23 Reading Blind 26 Writing Voices 32 Digression—A Vocabulary Question 35 Areas I Won't Focus On 35 Digression: Other Dissertations I Could Have Written With These Materials 36 History and Definitions of the Term "Empathy" 38 iv Digression and Caveat: Who Really invented the term Einfiihlung 38 History 41 Pre-Vischer 41 Vischer and Lipps 43 Empathy Post-Lipps 45 Digression: Concurrent developments 46 In Aesthetics 47 In the Emerging Social Sciences 47 In Psychology and the Human Sciences 48 Digression: When the Father of Contemporary Empathy Couldn't Write 51 About Empathy 51 Definitions . 52 Digression—Similarity and Accuracy, Once Again 54 Sympathy.. 56 Sympathy is about the model's misfortune 57 Sympathy entails feeling sorry for the model 58 Sympathy involves the beholder's desire that the case were otherwise for the model 59 Sympathetic empathy 61 The question of a shared object 61 Sympathy is not dependent on knowing what the model is feeling 62 Other Similar Concepts 63 Metaphoric Definitions 65 Touch 66 Mirrors 70 Musical Resonance 72 The Reasoning Heart 72 V My Approach 73 Case Study I: These Words of Long Love 76 These Words of Long Love: Four Poems 77 After He has Gone 81 Robert Vischer, Theodor Lipps, Karen Cooper. A Shared Naivete? 85 Where the Self is Lost 86 Accuracy in Aesthetic Imitation 92 Involuntary and Unconscious Aspects 96 Choice 98 Duane and Anne 102 Mirror Neurons 105 Bob's Janey . 108 Narrative and Trauma • 111 Digression: "Imaginary" trauma , 112 Biblical Translation 115 Case Study II: On Gently Freezing 124 Some Points about Photographs and Text in National Geographic 128 Digression: Who Does What in the Article? 129 The Treasures 129 The Explorers 136 Digression: Suppressing the Existence of Photographers 138 The Ethnography and Reinhard's Personal Comments 141 Approaches to the Ethical Judgment of Others 142 Hybrid Texts? '. 146 Schizophrenic Texts? 150 Definitions of Sacrifice 152 vi Digression and Caveat: The Frog Helper : 153 Alternatives 157 Other ways of Presenting the Article 162 A. Visual Alternatives 162 B. Textual Alternatives 164 Case Study III: Performative Inquiry 168 Performative Inquiry: Aliens and 'Etsem 169 An Attempted Drama 169 Role Drama Trauma 173 An Actual Role Drama 176 Problems with this Account 183 Theorizing Silence 186 Disruption • 186 Aphasia 186 Re-reading 188 An "Assault" by a "Panhandler" 198 Cats and Case Studies • 203 Coda 208 Explanations 210 Explicitly Empathic Explanations 213 Direct unwilled Empathy 213 Being "in Someone's Shoes" 214 Empathy with victims—this could happen to me 215 Empathy with adults—I could do this 216 As If. • 218 Digression: Precedence and Dominance 223 V l l Hearts and Tongues 224 Works Cited 235 Appendices 241 Appendix A: Carl Rogers' Expanded Definition of Empathy 241 Appendix B: A Selection of Role Drama Documents 242 V l l l ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS There is no acknowledgement adequate to the communal genesis of this thesis. I still feel a slight sense of disbelief at Dr. Kevin McNeilly's approach to supervision, with its combination of kindness, availability and rigour. George McWhirter has for over a decade shaped the way I hear words in my head and lay them down on the page. Dr. Lynn Fels embodies the embodied research she promotes, expanding the frame and practice of my work. My children, Jonathan, Matthew, and Anna, and my friends make life, and hence this thesis a joy- ful, and therefore possible, affair. To Thorns Jay Caper, law and spouse 1 D I S S E R T A T I O N I N T R O D U C T I O N A S t o r y For nearly fifteen years, I have camped annually with of one my most intimate friends, a seventy-five- year-old poet and publisher named Luci. In the summer of 2004, we started out from Vancouver very early in the morning and headed for the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. By the time we arrived at the Elwha River, set up our tent under the trees, and made our supper over the Coleman stove, we were both very tired. Although it was still early, we decided to go to bed just after we ate. Campgrounds at some distance from towns and cities tend to be very safe, but signs had been posted on two notice boards about recent thefts, so just prior to entering the tent I said to Luci, "We'd bet- ter lock the car." She handed me the key fob for her brand new Outback, and I pushed the lock button. "How do I know it's locked?" I asked. "Oh, the lights flash." But our tent was a good seventy-five feet from the car, perhaps more, and it was still quite light out. My view of the car was also blocked by a sort of metal box on legs—a bear-proof storage container for food. We thought we could hear a tiny beep, so she said, "I'm sure it's okay." Despite the lingering light and the pleasant but considerable noise of conversations and guitars from adjacent campfires we each fell into a deep and instantaneous sleep. Some hours later, I woke with a jerk at the loud thump of a car door. Then a bright flashlight beam slashed through our tent several times. This was very startling: Campers are usually extremely con- siderate people—quiet late at night and careful to keep their flashlights down, since nearly all modern tents are translucent. I sat up and looked out the window mesh. It must have been near midnight, or even later, because there was not a light in the camp, not even from the truck campers and trailers at the far end—except, that is, for the flashlight in the hand of the person scrounging around in the back of our car. 2 Without thinking about it at all, I quietly unzipped the tent. Then, in my flannel pyjama bottoms and a t-shirt, I ran barefoot across the ground under the trees to the car, very, very quietly. As a teenager I spent some time running lightless around the forests of the Olympic Peninsula eating native onions and lily bulbs, and hunting down various artists and poets who were squatting in abandoned cabins. I was following Bill, a very nice boyfriend who went on to become an ethnobotanist and who insisted that our eyes could see as well as an owl's though they took longer to adjust. I have never used flashlights in the woods since, and I didn't use one now. When I arrived at the car, the person's head was still down, and with the car door between us I said, not loudly but with great intensity, "WHAT are you DOING?" A small, slight, thirty-ish woman, with her own striking aura of very frizzy blond hair lit by her strong flashlight, jerked upright, shrieking, and then screamed out, "I don't know!" Something in her reaction led me to reach out a hand and place it on her arm, very gently. Even so, I said quickly again, "What are you DOING in our car?" Then, with my hand still on her arm, in a lovely soft southern accent, she said, "But I'm not IN your car, darlin'". I instantly believed her. Horrified and increasingly confused, I asked, in a tone which suggested, I think, that she'd spitefully hidden it somewhere out of sight just to confuse me, "Well, where's my car then?" "I don't know, darlin'," she said, and then began, with what was, under the circumstances, unrea- sonable kindness, using her quite sensible flashlight to try to find my car for me. "Oh, there it is," I said, a short second later. The woman and I were both standing in a vacant parking slot by her car, and in the next slot beyond that one, perhaps ten feet away, was Luci's Outback, right where we'd put it. "Oh my gosh!" I said. I absolutely and literally never swore until I was in my thirties, and had to work hard to learn how. But it has never become second nature to me; I still revert to the old non- 3 swearing behaviour whenever I stub my toe or am otherwise shocked. "Oh MY GOSH!!" I repeated, "I'm SO sorry. I must have scared the living daylights out of you!" "Yes you did, darlin'," she said. "Oh, I am SO, SO sorry." She just looked at me. I didn't know what else to do. "I think I'd better go back to bed." "Yes," she said, and paused. Then, when I was a few steps away, she softly drawled to my re- treating back, "You have a good night, now." I went back to the tent, lay on my face in my sleeping bag, and physically twitched with embar- rassment—it was more like convulsions actually-—for at least an hour, replaying the entire scene over and over in my head, trying to make some sense of the whole set of events. How had I gotten it so wrong in the first place, given that an underlying source of anxiety had been the stupid bear-proof box, directly in the line to our car? Why hadn't I noticed when I DIDN'T run into it as I flitted across the forest floor? Between twitches, I soon began to wonder what would have happened had this really been some- one burgling my car. Had I grabbed that sort of person's arm, they most likely would not have called me "darlin"' and wished me a "good night." So a much more sensible approach would have been to shine a flashlight at them, and to make some noise. I could even have awakened Luci. Yet I hadn't really decided to do what I did, in any usual sense of decision such as considering whether I should or shouldn't surprise a burglar in the act, and then choosing one way or the other. Which made me wonder: Did I make like some sort of cross between a pyjama-clad superhero and a silent forest fairy as a result of my admittedly strange childhood, or was I just born stupid? Alongside these sorts of considerations ran another stream of thought. It seemed to me that, unlike intelligence, empathy had poked its head up in numerous ways. For one thing, even the line of reasoning about how a burglar might react was a form of prospective empathy. Further, my almost im- mediate horror at what I had done was entirely focussed upon a very rapid computation (in a visual re- running in my mind of the first few moments, but from the aura-woman's perspective) of how frightening this event must have been: I'm rummaging in my car. It's very late, and I'm tired, and suddenly an in- 4 tensely angry voice says, "What are you doingT I jerk upright and scream, only to confront said woman, who is quite a bit bigger than I am, and now has her hand on my arm. Granted, my hand on her arm was not a threatening one, resting there lightly, because I had al- ready intuitively registered in her shriek a lack of threat and even the strong sense of her innocence. Still, her terror was real. On the other hand, I was at a loss with respect to the remainder of her interaction with me. I felt profoundly puzzled by her gentleness and her lack of anger in the situation. I could only speculate that I would have reacted quite differently—in fact I couldn't reconstruct the scene in any way which included reacting as she had. I was very grateful for her lack of intensity, but I just couldn't empathize with her state and behaviour; it felt incomprehensible, indeed, even wrong in some way. Perhaps, I thought, she was treating me the way you treat a crazy person, humouring me, but that didn't seem quite correct. I can't know, of course, but after I saw her the next morning, and apologized abjectly yet again, she and her partner began to pack up their camp. He was a glowering figure, grumbling at her continu- ously, and in the light of day she seemed oddly un-reactive to his barbs and nastiness, a somewhat beaten down and weakened person. In this light, literal and spiritual, I felt even worse about my behaviour the night before, guessing that its cost must have been worse for someone like her. Again I was empathis- ing—assessing in some way what this might be like for me, were I in her shoes. The next morning I told Luci, who had slept through the whole thing, what had happened. I was laughing as I blushed, but I was also genuinely upset at having frightened an innocent person so badly. She, on the other hand, just laughed uproariously. I wanted her to laugh, but I also wanted her to see how upset I really was—but somehow the way I told her about it, the fact of pleading to her humour first, meant that she couldn't really hear the other aspects, she couldn't in fact empathize with that less- humorous part of my experience. For each of the next three nights, as we were going to bed, she would say, "Now I want you to promise not to assault anyone tonight—okay?" And I would flash her my mid- dle finger, having returned to my well-learned state of contentiousness. 5 Introduction to Empathy Empathy's short history as a term can be traced by quoting both its first uses, and a much more recent one. Robert Vischer, in the doctoral thesis which introduced Einfuhlung (empathy's precursor), describes first our reactions to a farmer whose crop is at risk, and then the sculpture of a soldier who has been in- jured in a battle: And yet as long as the farmer supposes that he alone is affected, the difference between his feeling and his sensation can only be one of degree . . . . Only by considering our fellow beings do we as- cend to a true emotional life. This natural love for my species is the only thing that makes it pos- sible for me to project myself mentally; with it, I feel not only myself but at the same time the feeling of another being. (Vischer 1873/1993, 103) . . . the purity of all human existence appears sullied by this one image of suffering. The barbarity of enmity, the powerlessness of the individual, the whole sense of designation—breathing his last amid the overwhelming tumult of life—all this is written on the soldier's face, and the whole of humanity must, so to speak, repeat it and relive it. (Vischer 1873/1993, 110) Tania Singer et al describe a scientific study in which lovers watched each other as a burning shock was applied to one or the other's arm: Our data suggest that empathizing with the pain of others does not involve the activation of the whole pain matrix, but is based on activation of those second-order representations containing the subjective affective dimension of pain. (2004, 1161) In other words, the study showed that the brains of those beholding their lovers in pain looked, on brain scans, very like the brains of those receiving the pain. Their brains mirrored the pain of the other, with the exception that the beholder did not in fact feel the direct physical sensation of pain. From its beginnings in Vischer's German aesthetics to its discussion in technical scientific jour- nals, empathy as a concept has represented an attempt to describe an aspect of human intercommunication in which a person beholding another feels as if they are mirroring some aspect of the other's experience. In doing so, empathy straddles a number of customary divides. In certain of its aspects, it is intui- tive and unwilled, and places itself within the realm of science. In other aspects, it entails choosing to place ourselves "in another's shoes," and, as chosen, thereby enters the realms more commonly allocated to ethics and religion. It also addresses itself to the affective, emotional aspects of life, while at times also demanding of us careful thought, even logical reasoning as we seek to determine which of its manifesta- tions can be treated as genuinely offering us insights into another person's experience. Empathy as a concept is invoked in literature, cinema, anthropology and hard-core neuroscience, in discussions about all the issues that matter most: love, life, death, art. The multidisciplinary nature of theorizing around empathy has resolved itself with respect to this dissertation in a functional community which is an artefact of University regulations. For students in the Independent Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, their committee, once constituted, assumes the duties and rights of a department. My committee has become the department of empathy, and I have made my study the discipline of empathy. The dissertation as a whole asserts that empathy forms a useful category under which a wide and seemingly disparate set of human behaviours may be seen as functionally and conceptually related. More specifically, empathy, once engaged, acts as a knife edge, playing an essential role in belief and disbelief and the decisions that arise from these states. The dissertation which results in exploring this discipline from within this departmental entity covers a diverse and fractured terrain. I strongly prefer not to over- determine the end destination of the readers of this dissertation, so I am inclined to provide you not with a road map with its fixed routes, but a rough topography, including the dashed lines of possible trails. A R o u g h T o p o g r a p h y PRELIMINARY MATERIALS: This first section of the thesis begins by describing a series of philosophical challenges posed by the in- terdisciplinary nature of this dissertation. I enjoin readers to maintain a level of vigilance appropriate to my level of expertise in these various disciplines, and I discuss the difficulties inherent in finding a "voice" within which to write about those diverse theoretical fields. In a second major section, I trace the history of the term empathy, and end by defining empathy, first over against sympathy and then by means of common metaphors. I contend for a version of empathy as a fundamental human capacity that can be deployed in many ways both pro- and anti-social. Following this introductory section, I undertake a series of three Case Studies, which can be seen as problem-solving exercises. The problems under attempted solution vary from Case to Case. Empathy links all of the Case Studies; how can it be described, how can it be evoked or denied, what are the moral 7 or ethical implications of choices around empathy. In each Case Study, I bring together readings related to empathy, readings without any overt connection to that term from conventionally academic and theo- retical realms, and texts whose target audience is more popular. This dissertation is a performance and each case requires that I find not just texts relevant to the identified topic, but a voice (as conceived in creative writing)—a style, vocabulary, rhythm—appropriate to an identified audience. Each Case Study has been approached as an essay, with a beginning, middle, and end—a premise, development, and conclusions. This imposes added stylistic demands upon the Case Studies which have been variously met. C A S E S T U D Y I: F O U R P O E M S Case Study I asks what scientific texts can tell us about a series of four poems and their related experi- ences, and then what the poems and their related experiences can reveal about the scientific texts. This case study centers on four poems I wrote following experiences in four sets of relationships of varying degrees of intimacy. Each of the first four chapters describes one of these experiences in a documentary mode, a sort of personal journalism, and includes the poem which results. The first poem provides an opportunity to examine the history and definitions of empathy which arise initially from the German aes- thetics of Robert Vischer, via Theodor Lipps and Edward Titchener, and then find expression in the cog- nitive and social sciences. Findings from current cognitive sciences are brought to bear upon the remain- ing three poems, expressed in a form of discourse and explication quite similar to that of the scientific works themselves. I point out that speaking in the more usual language in which I both live and process events in my life, my honest attempt to represent what has happened as truthfully as I can, though necessarily limited by the location of that experience within the confines of my one body, nonetheless deeply serves an "em- pathic chain." As I allow an experience, or experiences, to emerge with as much fidelity as possible, I don't thereby perfectly reflect someone else's experience but rather try to make my own analogical ex- perience available to yet more readers or hearers. 8 In their theoretical orientation, these chapters focus upon science and deterministic explanation. Nonetheless, there are ethical dilemmas entailed in the production and sharing of these works, dilemmas attached to decisions about how much to write, how much to tell, and how the people in question will re- act. The more theorised literary approaches illuminate, and indeed help provide a language for, a number of those lived ethical dilemmas which arise from the poems, raising questions specifically to do with the concepts of honesty, truthfulness, and fidelity in the representation of experience. The relevant aspects of non-fiction as explored here apply to every genre cited in this dissertation, including the personal journalism, scientific writing, emails, and poems in this first case study. Later chapters add ethnography, popular anthropology and science, and personal essay. Thus this first case study allows me to lay out and to exemplify certain central forms and concerns to which all the remaining chapters make reference. C A S E S T U D Y II: O N F R E E Z I N G G E N T L Y The second case study addresses "Frozen in Time," a National Geographic article by the explorer Johan Reinhard, about the discovery of an Incan child sacrifice site. This case study examines this article through a number of theoretical lenses, especially from visual critical theory and ethnography, question- ing the ways in which both visual and textual strategies seek to selectively engage and disengage the reader's empathy toward Reinhard and toward the dead children. The case study then turns its attention to a specific subset of ethnographic theory, namely those works which seek to define religious sacrifice, and explores the ways in which these definitions both con- struct and reflect a vision of such sacrifice which largely rules out the writer's identification with the term, and by implication the reader's identification with the term as well. In other words, the end result of these definitions, if adhered to, is a conceptual distancing of all of our own behaviours and motivations from the behaviours and motivations as labelled. This distancing has significant ethical implications, so this Case Study ends with an altered, more inclusive definition of sacrifice which encompasses both the Incan children, and those who were the sub- jects of military mind-control experiments in the middle decades of the 1900's. This new definition leads 9 to suggestions for an altered article—one that would encourage empathy with both the murdered children and their murderers, toward a goal of opening significant ethical introspection, both personal and cultural. CASE STUDY III: ROLE DRAMA Case Study III is the most experimental of the three—it falls into no particularly recognizable genre, aca- demic or otherwise. It tells in narrative form a story of a particular phase in the development of this dis- sertation. I treat first a role drama, and then in succession a Hebrew word, narratives of my own non- traumatic experience, writings on trauma by scientists ( such as Daniel Schacter and Basil van der Kolk ) , and certain metaphors (such as Schrodinger's cat) as analogies for trauma. M y goal in these analogies is somehow to illuminate at depth the experience of severe trauma, and along the way to establish an em- pathic connection for the reader with the experience of such trauma, leading to the possibilities of empa- thy, affective and ethical engagement, and openness to action. The problem posed by the Case Study is whether and how words can be deployed in the description of severe trauma and its aftermaths. A Coda to Case Study III claims that, while successful in many ways, these analogies also in some ways fail. The ways they fail point to the role empathy plays in the inexpressibility of trauma. Rogers' as /^condition, first mentioned in the Preliminary Materials, while not an answer to these diffi- culties, provides a way forward for writers wil l ing to engage empathically with the trauma of others. ESSAY: HEARTS AND TONGUES For the final essay in this dissertation, I freed myself to address topics which had risen within my studies with a completely different audience in mind. I have written the essay fully intending to attempt publica- tion in a literary journal or magazine as creative non-fiction. The audience is, in general, the sort of per- son who reads those magazines, more narrowly, my thesis committee, and in particular the member of my committee who taught creative writing at my university for decades. Why a Story? But why start this introduction with a personal story, rather than with the paragraph just above? Because I want to begin as I mean to continue. Each case study centres on some aspect of my personal experience. 10 This use of the personal signals not that I've somehow conveyed the details of context in their totality but rather that certain contextual aspects seem the most essential to me. More important, however, is the way these stories signal the broader fact of context and open it to view, asserting its importance even though, or perhaps because, context is never capable of full explication. This approach seems especially important in a dissertation that accesses multiple scientific texts whose roughly equal glories and dangers often arise precisely from the curtailment of the personal. The limitation of view in scientific texts allows a particularly focussed attention to certain minutiae of human experience, and thereby yields genuine and sometimes shockingly powerful insights. However, science writing, even at the level of highly technical journals, tends to take these insights and broaden their appli- cation. Popular scientific writing often moves even further from research-based insight in its applications. I am not opposed in the slightest to these processes of wider interpretation. However, the scien- tists involved, especially in the popular writing, often fail to make explicit the move from the narrow claims that can be supported (within their acknowledged conceptual framework) to a broader realm of application where they not only have not, but often simply can not, structure experiments of a size and complexity that would justify their claims. Thus, my insistence on the personal is, among other things, my way of asserting the contingent and personal nature of all writing, including scientific writing, and including my own writing about science in this dissertation—an insistence that science is a language, not the language, for the description of human experience, and that the use of even this language is tinged with and tilted by the personal. Another aspect of the story above: As I convulsed in my tent I was already consciously process- ing my experience in terms of my academic fixation with empathy. As a Ph.D. student, with empathy as my area of study, I was finding empathy absolutely everywhere. This highly iterative engagement dem- onstrates the way in which my academic pursuits shaped, if not the immediacy of my sleep-besotted para- noia, at least the processing shortly thereafter. And even as that processing occurred I was thinking about the processing itself and its implications for my research. The story helps demonstrate the impossibility of teasing one's academic pursuits away from one's current personal experience, and vice versa. A num- 11 ber of the stories around which this dissertation revolves describe experiences incurred during the re- search and writing of the dissertation, again, not just because they are apt in terms of context, but because that inclusion signals, though by no means exhaustively, the various inextricabilities of the typically per- sonal with the typically academic. The impact of past experience is invoked in the camping story via the mention of that past. An out-of-the-ordinary childhood, which included being raised in a cult, constantly casts me into doubt about the sources of my behaviours. These interconnected strands, of empathy, belief, and behaviour in many kinds of non-fiction writing, form a nexus in the web of this particular dissertation. Further, the form of this story, with its explicit mention of a relatively benign past, and the veiled mention of my stranger and less accessible past, reflects an intense interest in the strategies of revelation and concealment with respect to that special nexus of concern. Other less obvious but crucial aspects of my dissertation-writing process also receive a nod in this story. My academic and personal lives are not hermetically sealed from one another, but one and the same life with aspects or foci which could be described as "academic," "personal." My life, for a variety of reasons, contains a number of writers of various types, and two of my most intimate friends are poets, Luci, mentioned above, and Katherine, mentioned below. I edit all of Luci's poetry, and often edit Kathe- rine's. In turn, each of them edits almost everything I write, not just the conventionally creative work, such as the essay which concludes this dissertation, but most of my conventionally academic work as well. They've therefore had a very direct hand in the forming of this work, which not only references my relational experience of the two of them, but has been in part constructed through their direct criticism. This inter-connectedness, intricate and intimate, points to the way in which my work on this dis- sertation is nested within relationships personal and professional, and some of which function in both realms. My family, my dissertation committee, my friends, a host of others, are a chronic, I would guess constant, factor in the very conceiving of the words which wind up on this page. I write—in a state some- times conscious and foregrounded, sometimes not—with an audience in mind, and am in an empathic af- fective conversation with that audience. Aspects of this empathic connection are discussed below, but the 12 entirety of the process is both ultimately too complex and poorly understood, by anyone, to be encom- passed in words, let alone in this dissertation. Certainly, one general impact is the sense I carry that the standards for this dissertation are shaped by not just an academic audience, but one which bears a quite different orientation toward words, even in this context, an orientation which is more conventionally crea- tive, which values, for example, surprise, sound, the long shape of the sentence and the paragraph, the apt word. These values are not absent in some of the academic texts I have read, but they are not, as far as I can tell, predominant in that realm. The dissertation will often look very like this introduction, with one or a few core texts explicated in detail. This approach is variously motivated. I am convinced I have read as much or more than most would to write a similar-sized dissertation. However, I have read widely, and in no single field have I read anything like as much as the average Ph.D. student might. It is simply impossible to both accom- plish my project and read at that depth within a specific area. A temptation arises, therefore to stay broad, to summarize, to explicate points where consensus is the norm across a wide variety of readings. I am, however, a writer who shapes individual texts, and loves to seek the shape in others' texts. They present the thinking of the writer at a particular time, with words linked as she intended them, whether that intention was entirely rational and cognitive or not. So in an act of thoroughly irrational em- pathy, I feel for these authors a desire to honour their texts somehow as constructed wholes. While this choice entails some necessary repetition, it gives me the room to at least attempt to trace the shape of their thoughts. Further, while I must read broadly, I prefer many aspects of engagement with specific texts. Describing a few texts in detail gives focus to a work of this disciplinary scope. Particular texts also pro- vide templates of interest to which other readings may be brought, thereby opening out into the general questions—a rather Idealist approach—save, as I describe in some detail below, that I believe the artist's immediate job is to represent the particular. Finally, I begin with a creatively written story because I in- tend to incorporate stories into each of the Case Studies and to end the thesis as a whole with a creatively structured narrative. 13 G L O S S A R Y Terms and names require some managing in an interdisciplinary work accessing texts from the sciences, the humanities, and the arts. I could direct you to a glossary placed in the usual location near the end of the dissertation. My suggestion, instead, is that you peruse this list to familiarize yourself with at least who and what I mention, as a means of avoiding frustration after this point for you, and un-necessary clarifying comments for me. This glossary does not provide exhaustive definitions for the terms contained, but rather clarify- ing notes where terms might be unfamiliar to most readers or where some aspect of their use in this dis- sertation differs from common usage for most readers. Just as certain terms are so well known within their given fields as to need no further definition, so too certain names, while not so well known in com- mon language as an Einstein, are "household names" within their own fields. These are mentioned be- low. Where the context makes it clear that everyone mentioned must necessarily be working within a given genre such as experimental psychological linguistics, I do not include them here. agency: A quality of self-determination or choice. Often used in political discourses to discuss powers and freedoms which can be acquired or lost, given or taken away. See choice. choice: At the ontological level, the idea that free will in some form exists. See agency. coda: A few measures or a section added to the end of a piece of music to make a more effective ending (Public Schools of North Carolina 2006). (Italian for "tail"; from the Latin cauda, see below), in mu- sic, is a passage which brings a movement or a sepa- rate piece to a conclusion through prolongation .... ln a series of variations on a theme or in a composi- tion with a fixed order of subjects, the coda is a pas- sage sufficiently contrasted with the conclusions of the separate variations or subjects, added to form a complete conclusion to the whole (Wikipedia 2006). conscious, subconscious, unconscious: Conscious can be used in a general sense as the opposite of be- ing asleep or in a coma. In this dissertation, primarily used in the sense in which a state of being con- scious, or consciousness, is "A domain of mind that contains the sensations, perceptions and memories of which one is momentarily aware; that is those aspects of present mental life that one is attending to" (Reber 1995: "consciousness"), and including the memories of those aspects of mental life. While uncon- scious in common usage may mean in a coma or asleep, here it primarily "characteriz[es] those internal I have used the Wikipedia for several reasons: 1) In this open access internet based encyclopaedia, definitions tend to evolve toward clear direct formulations which do not de- pend upon discipline-specific usages. 2) Open access could lead to inaccurate or malicious entries. Where this occurs, for example with descriptions of certain individuals and top- ics, descriptions are locked to prevent tampering. For exam- ple, empathy itself has large sections which are locked. 3) Perhaps most importantly, I have used nothing from any source which does not accord with my understanding of the terms and persons described. The Wikipedia provided a way of discovering, in keeping with themes invoked in much of this dissertation, common language formulations. 14 processes that proceed in an implicit manner outside of consciousness" (Reber 1995: "unconscious"). Subconscious as an adjective refers to a liminal group of experiences, which can usually be described ei- ther as: "information that is not part of one's momentary awareness but which can, given the proper cir- cumstances, be made conscious", or "information or stimuli that are at the margins of attention, events that one is only vaguely aware o f (Reber 1995, "subconscious"). C T (or C A T ) scan: Computed Axial Tomographic scan. Two-dimensional x-ray "slices" of the body are processed by computer software into three-dimensional images. SeefMRl, PET scan. culture: As Raymond Williams points out, a most complicated word in modern usage. I use it entirely as "the independent noun, whether used generally or specifically, which indicates a particular way of life, whether of a people, a period, or a group" (Williams 1976, 80) This word provides a shorthand for the idea that any given humans can be born, grow, live, and die within contexts providing experiences of ei- ther greater or lesser similarity, and that relative proximity in time or geography is likely to affect that degree of similarity. dissociation: Used primarily in the sense that awarenesses or memories which would, under normal cir- cumstances be available to consciousness, are not, usually due to distress or trauma of some kind. emotion: See sensation. feeling: See sensation. fMRI : Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Uses a combination of magnetic alignment and radio waves to assess changes in the proportions of oxygenated and deoxygenated (used) haemoglobin, which are related to increased demand for oxygen in active cells. The readings are computed by software into, three dimensional images. Better resolution than PET scans, and unlike both PET scans and CT scans, does not expose subject to any radiation. The precise relationships between scan results and brain activity are still being researched. See PET scan, CT scan. Geertz, Clifford: A highly influential anthropologist. "He has... contributed to social and cultural the- ory and is still very influential in turning anthropology toward a concern with the frames of meaning within which various peoples live out their lives" (Wikipedia 2006). Girard, Rene: "A French philosopher, historian and philologist. He prefers to call himself an anthro- pologist in the vein of philosophical anthropology. He is the author of multiple books developing the idea that human culture is based on a sacrifice as the way out of mimetic, or imitative, violence between rivals. In the scientific field, he is known for his theory of 'mimetic desire'" (Wikipedia 2006). Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: AKA the indeterminacy principle. "An inherent principle of quantum mechanics which states that at the microscopic level, it is impossible to know both the momen- tum p and the position x of a particle with absolute precision .... The principle is a consequence of the fact that any attempt at measurement must disturb the system under investigation, with a resulting lack of precision. The determination of both energy and time is also subject to the same uncertainty .... One consequence of the uncertainty principle is that the macroscopic principle of causality cannot apply at the atomic level" (Dictionary of Theories). See quantum mechanics. Idealism: Not in the casual sense of a focus upon perfection, but rather a philosophy which states, on the mild epistemological end, that all perception is necessarily affected by the mind, and on the extreme onto- logical end that there is nothing but what is created by the mind. 15 interest: In older texts, entails a personal investment in the outcome of the engagement under question. L a c a n , Jacques: Claimed that he was primarily, or even exclusively, and interpreter of Freud, though his work goes well beyond Freud's in many ways. His most oft-quoted concepts revolve around the idea that human consciousness is structured by language, or sometimes, like a language. He has been highly influ- ential in literary, cultural and critical theory. mechanist: Believes that all mental phenomena can be explained physically. As contrasted to mentalist. mentalist: Believes that not all mental phenomena can be explained physically. As contrasted to mech- anist. moral , ethical: In general, when treated as different, moral addresses the purely personal (as if there could be such a thing), while ethical discusses acts which impact others. Vetlesen uses moral for both. naive: Used primarily as "deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment; especially: credulous" (Online 2005). However, another meaning often applied to art suggests rather that the material presented, verbal or visual, is un-affected or even uncorrupted by academic or critical thought. This latter meaning is closer to my own usage in this context. necessary and sufficient: Used in definitions. "A condition A is said to be necessary for a condition B, if (and only if) the falsity (/nonexistence /non-occurrence) [as the case may be] of A guarantees (or brings about) the falsity (/nonexistence /non-occurrence) of B. A condition A is said to be sufficient for a condi- tion B, if (and only if) the truth (/existence /occurrence) [as the case may be] of A guarantees (or brings about) the truth (/existence /occurrence) of B" (Schwartz 1997). objective: For Vischer and Lipps, objective and subjective are usually simply adjectives indicating whether the entity under question is related to the subject (a human taking an action such as observing), or the object (such as a painting or sculpture being observed). So introspection and dreams are subjective, occurring in and with reference to the subject, but can contribute to legitimate scientific exploration. Ob- jective means related to the object outside of the subject, and in this context, under contemplation by the subject. P E T scan: Positron Emission Tomography scan. Subjects are injected with radioactive glucose. Glu- cose is metabolized by active cells, including those in the brain, so the most active parts of the brain show up on the scan. Like fMRI scans in being a "functional" scan. See CT scan, fMRI scan. quantum mechanics: "The well-tested theory of the behaviour of matter on the microscopic scales of atoms and computer chips, where the constituents of matter behave simultaneously like waves and parti- cles" (NASA 2005). Classical mechanics failed to provide a predictive physics for matter at the sub- atomic scale; the various predictions under this theory have succeeded well, but seem to actively contra- dict certain aspects of classical mechanics. String theory is an attempt to provide a consistent theory which accommodates both quantum and classical mechanics. See Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. printing terms: Technical terms common to discussions of printing and periodicals will be used. "Body" text refers to the main continuous "essay" text of an article, and excludes titles, captions or legends for this text. This is a particularly useful distinction here, since captions in National Geographic can run sev- eral paragraphs. "Titles," "captions," and "legends" have overlapping, nearly interchangeable, technical meanings. For this paper, "title" will refer only to the primary short headings, always in larger type, at- tached to periodicals, articles, and sections of books or articles, blocks of text, and even, in National Geo- 16 graphic to longer captions. "Caption" will be used for all explanatory text primarily attached to photo- graphs. A "spread" is a composed image of one or more artefacts. Rogers, Carl : At one time a household word for his work in popularizing the concept of empathy. He was also a very fine scientist, over the years conducting, and through his students supervising, dozens of creative, well-structured experiments into the nature and functions of empathy. Schacter, Daniel: "Schacter's research has focused on psychological and biological aspects of human memory and amnesia, with a particular emphasis on the distinction between conscious and nonconscious forms of memory and, more recently, on brain mechanisms of memory distortion" (Schacter 2006). sensation: For Vischer and Lipps is "simply the body's physical responses to outside stimuli," while emotion is also a sort of inherent faculty, somewhat like physical sensation, but not localized. Feeling (of which Einfiihlung is a species) "assumes mental or emotional activity" and suggests a greater level of processing (Mallgrave and Ikonomou 1994). However, these terms as categories include manifestations we might label quite differently. For example, feelings can include force and power, while emotion en- compasses goodness and excellence (Vischer 1873/1993, 121). sensational: Sensational here is not equivalent to "fabulous" but rather marks out a view that all thought, including words, originate in physical sensations. We are here once again engaged in an old, and now, at least in experimental psychology, concluded, argument—this one against those who believed in the exis- tence of some form of pure thought. string theory: "A theory that what we perceive as particles are actually vibrations on strings or mem- branes in a 10- or 11-dimensional space, respectively. These theories resolve the incompatibility between general relativity and quantum mechanics and unify them" (NASA 2005). See quantum mechanics, Heisenberg 's Uncertainty Principle. subconscious: see conscious. subjective: See objective. sufficient: in definitions, see necessary and sufficient. theory of mind: "Understanding others' intentions is an important ability that involves representing the mental states of others in one's own mind (forming a 'theory of mind'). There are two competing views of how we do so. 'Simulation theory' suggests that we directly simulate others' cognitive processes by deploying the same cognitive mechanisms, whereas 'theory theory' suggests that we use inferential and deductive processes that do not involve simulation" (Ramnani and Miall 2004, 85). titration: In chemistry, the successive measured dilutions of a chemical in order to gauge its effects. unconscious: see conscious. van der Kolk, Bessel, M.D. : "Medical Director [Justice Research Institute Trauma Center], has been ac- tive as a clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of posttraumatic stress and related phenomena since the 1970s. His work integrates developmental, biological, psychodynamic and interpersonal aspects of the impact of trauma and its treatment" (Institute 2006). Williams, Raymond: "Highly influential Welsh academic, novelist and critic" (Wikipedia 2006). Par- ticularly influential in literary and cultural theory and criticism. 17 PRELIMINARY MATERIALS Issues & Presuppositions Writers of dissertations who choose to interact primarily or entirely with material within a particular dis- cipline have the luxury of avoiding at least some part of what I must now do. My dissertation addresses materials from many disciplines. Each of these disciplines has certain underlying assumptions which need not be queried, defended, or even described in the ordinary run of academic discourse. For example, whatever they may do in private, most scientists, when they sit down to write, assume—rather than ques- tion or defend—a belief in at least the statistical consistency of reality in its behaviours. Contemporary literary theorists likewise often refer to a certain level of suspicion about language, without defending or even describing their beliefs in those areas. These assumptions, however well thought out, are in the end assumptions, and in the case of my own, I intend more to reveal than to justify them. In the interests of a sort of journalistic revelation of bias and even more in the interest of forestalling unnecessary digressions each time I shift disciplines, in this section to I display what seem to me to be the most important of my own assumptions relative to the matters at hand. I am, with slight emendations, basically Berkeleyan in my approach to reality. I believe in a reality not dependent upon human perception for its continued existence. I refuse to be a Johnsonian "I refute him thus" rock kicker, or for that matter, a Swiftian door closer, for at least two "Boswell wrote of Johnson: "After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus'" (Boswell and Hill 1887, 471; Fels 1999). Similarly, 'The satirist Jonathan Swift, who was a friend of Berkeley's showed typical incom- prehension by instructing his servants not to open the door to Berkeley when he visited, on the grounds that Berkeley be- lieved he could walk through doors." (Stoneham 2002, 31) reasons*. Firstly, Samuel Johnson's painful effort only demonstrated a profound misunderstanding of Bishop Berkeley's position. As Stoneham summarizes Berkeley's fundamental approach, (1) . . . Berkeley believed in the existence of a physical world distinct from the minds that perceive it but dependent for its existence upon being perceived, and (2) . . . Berkeley sharply distinguished perceptual knowledge, which is of particulars and unmediated by concepts and is thus peculiarly human and fallible. (Stoneham 2002, 33) 18 Berkeley was addressing a number of problems, including the variability and fallibility of individual per- ception and the persistence of objects even when unperceived, by making reality dependent on the eternal perception of God. The location of reality within the perception of God does not thereby entail an ab- sence of solidity. Rather, Berkeley sought thus a guarantee for the solid and continuing reality of this world. It is perhaps worth mentioning that a number of grand minds, including the physicist Albert Ein- stein, who died in the last century, and the philosopher Anthony Flew, who died in this, have in the end inclined toward the belief that something exists beyond the empirically sensible which in some way un- derlies or guarantees the trustworthiness or dependability of our physical reality. Either way of approach- ing these problems generates its own set of questions and solutions. Without claiming this preference as the reason for my inclinations, I can say that I prefer both the solutions and the questions which attend to the belief in some meta-physical or mrra-physical or deeper-than-phys\ca\ fact, and in general, my lesser mind inclines in this direction. The stubbed toe incurred in an attempt to prove "reality" also fails to impress me on a second somewhat paradoxical count: At the quantum level, matter not only looks less than solid, it is under cur- rent constructions seeming downright queer, when at least one appropriate description would be that an electron "decides" both its state and position only when observed, or, to remain Berkeleyan, perceived. Similarly at the mega-physical level explored by cosmological physicists, black holes and large quantities of dark matter pose substantial challenges to an everyday rock-kicking approach to reality. Even quantum physicists are generalizing and making predictions, and these processes of science by and large require dependability—at least in a statistical fashion—more than an exact idea of the deep nature of reality. Nonetheless, at the meso-physical level explored by the scientists I reference, neither quarks nor string theory play much of a role in the pain generated by rock-kicking, and ordinary Newtonian physics remains highly predictive. An excellent example of the "common knowledge" prob- lem: This assertion about the quantum model would be made without attribution not only in scientific journals, but even in popular scientific periodicals like Discover. A won- derful and accessible description of this problem which asks, "When did the electron decide which way it was go- ing?" can be found at Watson (2001). I also believe that the persistence of a reality separate from our perception ultimately underlies what meaning inheres in language. This sense of reality acts especially as the underlay for the truth 19 claims of any writing which describes itself as non-fiction. In common experience, the exchange, "Did it really happen that way? and "Yes, it did," capture the sense implied. If a reader believes that I have at- tempted to write non-fiction, they don't expect that I can fully encompass an experience or situation in mere text, but they do expect me not to lie to them. To put it another way, a section of language which claims to be non-fiction ultimately makes a claim which is science-like not in its verifiability but in its aspirations. The writer believes, and hopes the reader will believe, that even given the vagaries of mem- ory and the limitations of language, were one able to replay the events in question they would at least not falsify the writing about those events. A more limited version of this claim, the one I would make, would be that the writer is trying to represent his or her own experience of events in such a way as to avoid falsi- fication of experience or memory of experience. In practice, the slight difference between these two claims may be one of the usual differences between the genre of journalism, with its fact-checking, and in works of non-fiction creative writing such as the personal essays in this dissertation. Scientists, too, prefer their results not to falsify their theses, though this is certainly a happy out- come. They write accounts of events, in this case the courses and outcomes of their research, and great scandals erupt when their accounts are falsified, in the sense above, by someone else's account or by re- cords kept about the research process. Scientists also go further to claim a statistical implication, namely that future events can be predicted as a result of these past events. All this reliance on an external reality makes me some sort of naive realist. It could make me "an objectivist leaning towards epistemological/ontolog- ical realism" (Chandler 1997, 66) but my deep suspicions around both perception and language bring me right to the edge of becoming, "a subjectivist leaning towards idealism—or at least a socially-inflected constructivist stance" (Chandler 1997, 66). For me, there, is absolutely no such thing as an un-inflected pure perception of reality, nor, of course, of the memory of that perception. Not just the limits of our physiological perceptual and neurological process- ing equipment, but our need to construct coherence, the languages we first learn, the narratives we live In one famous oft-repeated experiment, 50% of the participants routinely fail to notice when "someone dressed in a gorilla suit ambles across the floor... walks through [a group of basketball] players, turns to face the viewers, thumps his chest and leaves" (96). This sort of suppression of sensory input appears to serve at least two functions, the maintenance of coherence and the avoidance of sensory overload. (Ramachandran and Rogers-Ramachandran 2005) 20 within, our immediate social and emotional contexts, and what we had for breakfast, all to varying extents govern even our immediate perceptual experience, let alone any further layers of processing. With respect to language, I can grant that all of the above factors and more may influence the ways in which language functions within any individual at any particular time. I can grant a semiotician's view of language as an interconnected web of shifting meaning without thereby despairing of words' ul- timate abilities to communicate meaning from being to being. This is true not least because for me, as for Berkeley, there is a something beyond the tangible, the word-able, which language nonetheless gestures toward, even or perhaps especially when it fails. Writers label this something variously; Jacques Lacan, for example, desig- nates it "the Real ." I always speak the truth. Not the whole truth, because there's no way, to say it all. Saying it all is literally impossible: words fail. Yet it's through this very impossibility that the truth holds onto the real. (Lacan 1990, 3) Agency , Cho ice , Determinism M y belief in a Berkeleyan persistence of a reality external to my perception, and in the statistical useful- ness of science (when it restrains itself to topics properly limited by its methods), does not lead me to a fully deterministic world view. However, merely refusing to adopt one side of the dichotomy does not solve a fundamental question, namely that both involuntary emotional contagion and voluntary analogical empathy have been invoked from very early in discussions of empathy and its precursor, sympathy. David Stewart expresses this dichotomy relative to empathy in his philosophical work, Preface to Empa- The problem posed by empathy is that it penetrates both sides of the dialectic of determinism and freedom. Determinism is the principle symbolizing the spirit, method and aim of the natural sci- ences .... Freedom symbolizes the spirit, method and aim of ethics and religion. And here we are faced with a problem within a problem. For freedom, contrasted with determinism, is always a problem in the area in which it has meaning. In science it is no problem except as a practical ob- stacle to increasing control .... But in ethics and religion—the problematic nature of freedom is essential to the enquiry. If it could be solved, there would be no ethics and no religion. For to solve it would be to eliminate it. (1956, 154) Stewart points here to a foundational difference in disciplinary approaches to do with choice and therefore agency. A s he quite properly notes, science's goal is to eliminate the question of choice. B y definition science seeks to discover deterministic mechanisms, though at times these mechanisms may best be rep- 21 resented by a statistical likelihood (quantum mechanics) rather than fixed measurements within accepted tolerances. Science wants to know how things happen, in order to predict what will happen. On the other hand, ethics (and religion) assume at least some level of true choice. Thus, they are also interested in how, but might prefer to phrase it as why, and want to see the impact of those explorations upon choices. Any failure to recognize this distinction generates significant confusion, even in criticisms of sci- ence and its reactions to questions of freedom and choice. Alfie Kohn indignantly relates this story: I vividly recall attending a graduate school class in which the instructor drew a diagram on the blackboard to represent the balance of genetic and cultural determinants of behaviour. When a student asked about the omission of freedom—the realm of nondetermination—from this tidy model, the professor reacted rather as if someone had corrected his spelling and said he supposed that, yes, there was this, too. (1990, 19-20) Kohn attributes this response to the instructor, "Not taking human freedom seriously" ( 20). Kohn here fails to distinguish between belief and practice. The instructor may well not believe in personal freedom, but he may, without thereby condemning his response in the class to incoherency. Last Sunday, after early Eucharist, my husband and I spoke to a friend, a decorated scientist—"Church in the morning, sci- ence in the afternoon.—how about that!" he said brightly. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Oh, I'm on the Genome Committee. We have a meeting about ethics—you know it's very complex, what's coming up." Clearly it is possible to wander around in one body, acting scientifically in the one realm, religiously in another, and making decisions at the committee level about ethics in another. Kohn's very mention of spelling is apt. The language the instructor was speaking has inherently to do with "determinants"; to require in that context that he speak of freedom is to ask him to pronounce something for which his classroom language has no phonemes, for which there are no symbols that could lead to a right spelling, a right pronunciation. The only option available within the language is a reductive analysis of choice on deterministic terms, what I call a scientizing of the topic. I am completely uninterested in scientizing ethics, and I suppose I am declaring thereby that at some ontological level I believe in choice. Along with my friend Azim Shariff, who propounds a "good enough" theory of free will, I think choice-making may be very complex and holistic, not entirely con- scious, and other than completely rational (Shariff, Schooler, and Vohs forthcoming). Choice, and there- 22 fore agency, may be at some level a fiction which serves some convenient evolutionary end. If so, the fiction is, by that definition, necessarily compelling, and it appears that I will live out this fiction by fo- cussing a great deal on agency. On the other hand, there may be a fundamental reality to choice. Indeed, those who wish to access the languages of both choice and science often point to quantum indeterminacy in support of their position. I am neither a philosopher nor a quantum physicist, and will merely state that for me, there is enough mystery about this realm to allow at least an adequate state of agnosticism. With respect to this dissertation, however, the fundamental difficulties noted by Stewart above have to some extent dictated the form of this work. The Case Studies below attempt to make space for conversations first, between, a body of literature which is broadly scientific and therefore by definition concerned with deterministic functions and focussed upon the unconscious and unwilled aspects of empa- thy, second, between a body of literature which is broadly literary-theoretical and therefore often con- cerned with agency and the conscious and willed aspects of empathy, and a National Geographic article, and third, between the descriptions of certain experiences and the descriptions of the mechanisms of trauma written by several scientists. As such, the first Case Study invokes material primarily on the de- terministic side, the second material primarily addressed toward agency, and the third a mix of the two. S i m i l a r i t y a n d Iden t i ty The discursive realm opened by consideration of words such as identity and similarity has proven a con- stant nettling source of doubt for me as I've read in various disciplines. The deeper philosophical prob- lems are thorny ones, and I am not here attempting to solve them. However, similarity and its corollary, accuracy, are critical to much thinking about empathy, so I want to mention a certain set of relevant ques- tions that trouble me but go predominantly unasked within the given literatures this dissertation addresses. The scientists I cite in Case Study I typically adopt a functional, approach such that brains with highly similar features, and apparently similar functions, and which generate, for example, similar scan results, can be assumed to be performing similar tasks. Thus, discoveries about the brains of macaques can be interpreted as in some ways explanatory in respect to humans. These texts often seem cleaner and 23 clearer when compared to texts involving concepts such as analogy and empathic accuracy in the mimicry or mirroring of another's state. Where discussions access terminologies of feelings and emotions, an even greater fuzziness prevails, with more overlap and less defined edges amongst and between terms. But these latter conceptual realms are critical to the common-language understandings of empathy, and to my ongoing experience of empathy as well. Even in Case Study I, therefore, I conclude with a discussion of the implications of the studies examined upon questions of choice. Case Studies II and III invoke the questions of identity more overtly, and in quite different ways. Case Study II must in part address the issues of similarity and difference when asserting that theories of empathy have something to say about choices made by long-dead people separated from us by time, space, and living conditions. In turn, the analogical nature of empathy in this context has a determining role in assessing the responsibilities and culpabilities of an author whose work selectively engages and disengages his readers' empathy. With respect to Case Study III, a reader's sense of similarity, even of identity, with respect to victims of trauma, can place them on the knife edge of belief and denial. At the level of language, I lean towards common experience and usage. While I may acquire some pleasurable enlightenment from reading studies of mirror neurons in macaques, the fact that we're discussing monkeys limits any comfort I might gain in my own affairs. I depend on a sense of similarities in experience, pain, and horror for the very great comfort, or the resonating anger, or the sense of resolve, which may descend upon me when I read others' accounts of suffering. Apprehensions of similarity and difference, in my opinion, depend at least in part upon the way our realities are constructed by our linguistics. DIGRESSION: COLOR AND SPACE Various studies conducted into concepts such as time (Boroditsky 2001), color (Ross 2004), and space (Majid et al. 2004) involved in our fundamental interactions with the everyday world support the assertion that even perceptions of similarity depend on labelling. The number of basic colours labelled in various languages (out of at least 110 languages studied so far) varies from two (Dani) to at least twelve (Rus- 24 sian). Yet the constraints on what sorts of colors, as measured by wavelength, get grouped together, are consistent, "suggesting the existence of universal constraints on semantic variation." The New Guineari language Dani has just two. One of the two encompasses black, green, blue and other "cool" colors; the other encompasses white, red, yellow and other "warm" colors. Those languages with only three terms almost always have "black-cool," "white-light" and "red-yellow- warm." Those having a fourth usually carve out "grue" [blue and green] from the "black-cool" term. (Ross 2004) Industrialized societies consistently have a larger number of distinct colour terms relative to hunter- gatherer and agricultural societies (Ross 2004), suggesting a functional role for the varying number of colours. For the last several years the "Space" project at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics has been exploring the impact upon cognition of different naming systems for space. As with colour, the number of spatial naming systems varies between languages. English speakers use two quite different forms of spatial descriptors. For small scale situations, they would say, "The fork is to the left of the plate," or "the fork is beside the plate." Only in large scale situations would they use an absolute frame of reference: "The road is north of the river." However, speakers of Guugu Yimithirr (Australia) use only the last kind of description: they do not have available either a Relative or an Intrinsic FoR [frame of reference]. The Absolute FoR is used even to describe the location of an object on a body part—a Guugu Yimithirr speaker would say, "There's an ant on your south leg." (Majid et al. 2004, 108-9) Work with various languages, "suggests that linguistic diversity aligns with cognitive diversity, as shown in people's language-independent solutions to spatial tasks and unselfconscious gestures accompanying speech." These and other findings contribute "to the emerging view that language can play a central role in the restructuring of human cognition" (Majid et al. 2004, 113). In the realm of affects and emotions, states descnbable by a single word in one language, require sentences of description in another. Metaphorical usages of body parts which have primarily translation for simpatico (Spanish) would not be sym- but something closer to nice, or agreeable, but not laccid as these terms in English. I can remember m o t in ^ n n i n rtoQrrihprt hv o t h e r w n m o n Gimnatirn The first pathetic, quite so 1 women I , , , , and can sense a commonality between them, an active warmth, I would call it. While I would never in English use sympathetic after a first casual meeting with someone unless there had been some relevant content in the conversation by which I could judge, simpatico can be used after a very short first contact. affective import in one language (heart in English, for example), carry a quite different, more 25 structured, whole-person import with little sense of emotion in another (levav in Hebrew). Nevertheless, for the purposes of this dissertation, a common-language understanding of similarity will prevail, whereby if a person is feeling sad, and in response to their situation, I am feeling sad, then our emotions are similar. This choice, however, does not solve the host of ontological problems around the nature of simi- larity and identity. Given that individuals can meaningfully be said to be not-identical even to themselves from moment to moment, the fundamental nature of identity and therefore similarity, if any, is extremely difficult to pin down. If someone who saw Richard Nixon at age 15 and then again at age 60 might not recognize him as the same person, in what does our understanding of "same person" consist (Perry 1975, 29)? When my brother had a very severe motorcycle accident and regressed (for some months) to the emotional status of a two-year-old, was he still my brother? How severe would the damage have to be for me to decide he was not? If, at the level of molecular description, our composition changes with every breath we take, in what sense are we identical to ourselves from moment to moment? In what sense, similar? But should these questions concern us in our exploration of empathy? In exploring the question of whether people who have undergone brain bisection ought now to be viewed as one person or two, Thomas Nagel points out that much rests upon our determination in this case, in particular the rather em- pathically phrased "need to construe the mental states we ascribe to others on the model of our own" (1975, 242). The hypothesis that two minds are present, "at least has the advantage of enabling us to un- derstand what it is like to be these individuals, so long as we do not try to imagine what it is like to be both of them at the same time" (1975, 240). Nagel's suggestion is not only that "there is no whole num- ber of individual minds that these patients can be said to have" (1975, 241), but that the "simple idea of the person" with its "whole number countability" is an illusion (1975, 242-3). The epistemological problems are if anything even greater. For example, conscious knowledge and labelling of the relevant emotions by either party are not necessary to the concept of empathy. Thus Carl Rogers would view the tuneable accuracy of a therapist's empathy as a tool precisely for "sensing 26 meanings of which [the client] is scarcely aware, but not trying to uncover feelings of which the person is totally unaware, since this would be too threatening" (1975, 4). Note that the limiting factor here is the client's capacity for threat, not the therapist's capacity for accuracy. I cannot solve or even properly address these issues. However, precisely because most of the writers about empathy cited in this work use constructions dependent on concepts of similarity and accu- racy without mentioning them directly, I want to point to the considerable discomfort I experience. Not just because I want to stay somewhat close to intuitive usage, but because I must, I will adopt an intuitive belief that there are such things as individuals who may be identified as distinct from one another and therefore compared, and that comparisons can yield results of greater or lesser similarity. R e a d i n g B l i n d Raymond Williams risked "an extension and variety of themes well beyond the limits of any kind of aca- demic prudence" (Williams 1961, ix) in his discussion of tragedy. The sorts of dismissive comments Williams recognizes from academe in his discussion of tragedy, can suggest that only a conversation be- tween experts has value, so given that, unlike Williams, I am expert in not one of the academic disciplines I cite, I will have moved not just beyond the limits of prudence, but well out of sight of those limits. There are a number of replies which can be made to this. Robert Vischer, for example, who originated the term now translated as empathy, is hardly an expert in anything by today's standards—but I need to converse with him. Scientists who are highly expert in the brain physiology related to empathy might be abysmally inept at applying empathy in their own lives, but I want them at the table. My expertise con- sists not of fluency in any one of these tongues, but in being somewhat competent in all of them. Further, there is no such thing as an expert in general everyday experience. Either everyone or no-one is, so the term "expert" is emptied of content by the very thought. At best, I might be expert at my own experience. Yet I want someone's everyday experience of empathy involved in the discussion, so it had better be mine. 27 I necessarily distort the relevant discourses and not only through my relative inexpertise in any given one of them. Even were words to retain stable meanings over time within their own languages (an impossibility), their placements within such different semiotic webs would lend diverse shadings, such that a given sentence must carry quite different meanings when located within different disciplines. I have developed an avidity for just this sense of confusion and nuance, seeking out what a given discipline has to say about empathy, then letting these utterances reveal something of the discipline. I certainly see my topic as important—what Ph.D. student doesn't?—but I can't help but wonder whether my best quali- fication for this work of mediation is not so much my sense of urgency about the topic, but rather my status as an amateur, a lover of these many tongues. Just as with foreign languages, even when we have some sense of what various words may mean, we tend to read [The social account] precludes neither cogni- tive- nor neurological-based accounts of theory of mind development, which are at other levels of functional explanation. (Symons 2004, 159) those words through our own certainties—light-diffracting cataracts which shift our view—in a discipli- nary chauvinism to which we are often completely blind. It may be obvious that terminologies such as those of reality, choice, and similarity, when adopted variably by different disciplines pose a challenge to the reader. A number of other related forms of blindness also complicate inter-disciplinary reading. Robert Vischer and Theodor Lipps originated the scientific study of empathy. I will look at their works in more detail a little later. For now, I want to mention several instances which illustrate problems in interdisciplinary reading. Some academic conversations, just like some everyday ones, move forward, at least in part, with areas of agreement assumed or briefly noted, and areas of disagreement mentioned and explored in more detail. The impact of these arguments upon a text can be profound but nearly in- visible to the reader unfamiliar with the disciplinary history. For example, in Lipps' seminal article on empathy (Lipps 1903/1979), sense-feelings are mentioned many times. Then, very late and after the pri- mary argument of the piece seems to have closed, Lipps launches this call to arms upon us: "It is the duty of scientific aesthetics and necessary for its sound development, that it gradually recover from this disease of preoccupation with sense-feelings." 28 It's quite bracing, really, suddenly to discover that one has been in the midst of a battle, unsus- pecting. The seemingly disproportionate amount of time spent denying the relevance of "sense-feelings" to empathy turns out to be not just an attempt at clarity about empathy per se, but a call to arms—a drive to move all of what we would now call the scientific psychology of aesthetics away from its focus on "feelings localized in the body... kinaesthetic sensations, motor disturbances, physical cravings such as hunger, and so forth" (Lipps 1903/1979, 378, note 3). The point here is not that in noting this I become clearer about "sense-feelings," but that only Lipps' fortuitously pugnacious language alerts me, albeit rather late, to the existence of this particular prior dispute. Any expert in psychological aesthetics would certainly have known from the first mention of sense feelings the nature of the prior conversation, and the ways in which Lipps was contradicting those who came before him. I am not an expert; no ques- tion that in many other situations I will miss the shaping influence of similarly important prior conversa- tions. We also are blinded by a tendency to read our certainties not just sideways onto other disciplines, but also backwards onto earlier texts. We have seen this already in the mis-readings of Berkeley noted above, which owe a great deal to the more-widespread current disbelief in a transcendent being in whose gaze all reality rests. Further, even those who do believe in some form of transcendence would not neces- sarily hold Berkeley's understanding. For Berkeley, this being is an absolute reality: more real, not less, than the material world around him. The absolute reality of this being, then, is loaned to material reality through this being's gaze, and material reality is the realer for it. A failure to grasp this view of God must lead to a fatal misinterpretation of Berkeley's stance, which de-realizes his worldview relative to, for example, the toe-stubbing stone. This failed interpretation, which looks like that of the religious believer, Samuel Johnson, is actually engendered by an opposite understanding relative to God, and may account for Jonathan Swift's closed door. Vischer's and Lipps' works are cited within virtually every discipline which mentions the history of empathy, and the ways their works suffer mis-reading provide key examples of common similar mis- readings. Lipps' final assertion above can look on the surface like a rather unscientific approach, yet 29 Lipps prefigures the growing willingness in the cognitive sciences of his time to attempt the study of will- ing, or pride, or other previously understudied states. At the same time, he prefigures in this contentious way the more recent concern with essential and even causal connections between these states and our ex- perience of aesthetic contemplation. It is our contemporary understanding of the nature of science which can lead us to uncritically analyze his work, thereby limiting its scope, and debarring us from seeing the ways in which that work intersects currents of thought active today. Similarly, the suggestion that Vischer's pattern of thought was aesthetic and Lipps' psychological is implicitly and sometimes explicitly, interpreted as a movement from aesthetics-as-philosophy to psy- chology-as-science (Davis 1996, 5), using all of these terms roughly as we define them today. This de- velopmental interpretation suggests a greater division between Lipps' science and Vischer's aesthetics than really existed at the time, and even within those divisions suggests a greater clarity to Lipps' work relative to Vischer's' than is supportable by the actual texts. Lipps did not see himself practicing one side as over against the other, but rather "taught that phi- losophy ought to be a science of inner experience Aschenbrenner and Isenberg point out the considerable awkwardness in his prose due to "Lipps... forcing philosophic language to perform a kind of poetic task for which it is emi- nently unsuited" (1965, 401). The search for a prose appro- priate to this dissertation generates in me a considerable empathy with his difficulties. coordinated with natural science, or, in other words, that it should be virtually identical with psychology" (Aschenbrenner and Isenberg 1965, 401). This is a reduction of philosophy to science, and it is clear that his methodological sympathies lie with the emerging natural sciences. On the surface Vischer can look significantly less inclined in this scientific direction. Yet from the title on, his dissertation aligns itself in a direction far more similar to Lipps' than is sometimes al- lowed. Despite the fact that Vischer cites Karl Albert Schemer's book on dreams (Schemer 1861) as an essential source, he pronounces himself "unsympathetic with the mystical form of the generally abstract passages" (Vischer 1873/1993, 92). For Vischer, both dreams and introspection, as common human ex- periences, are considered legitimate as an object and a method of scientific study respectively, rather than foci of mysticism. 30 For Vischer, it is clear that "the eye has initiated a process" (1873/1993, 115), and even when he moves from discussing the mechanisms of seeing to those of mental images, he asserts "that this activity also essentially involves the central nervous system is evident from the unity of body and mind. The brain itself functions on many levels" (Vischer 1873/1993, 99). Clearly then not just Lipps but Vischer saw his work in a scientific light: My principal concern in developing these concepts now becomes to explain mental stimulation in every case precisely through and together with bodily stimulation. Although the physiological knowledge at my disposal is inadequate for this task, it seems to me that the manner of its applica- tion is valid in itself and not unworthy of being carried forward and completed by the sure hand of a specialist in this field. We stand here before a "mystery that has to be explained by physiology in conjunction with psychology." The attempt has to be made now, and in the end the daily—even hourly—discoveries will at least begin to illuminate the "impenetrable darkness that envelops those areas where the soul and the nerve centers are one." (Vischer 1866, 142-43) It's not that they were trying to pull their philosophy out of one discipline into another but rather that the disciplines themselves, even in Lipps' time, were not yet so distinguished from one another. Further, we need to remember that Vischer was writing 30 years earlier than Lipps. Mallgrave and Ikonomou point out that stances we deem incommensurable—metaphysics and scientific positivism, idealism and real- ism—"were generally perceived as working together toward the same goal." The social sciences, "psy- chology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and aesthetics... were presumed to share a common meth- odological footing," and such distinctions as existed between these disciplines and the natural sciences were new and tenuous (1965, 4). This is the work of Lipps' mature years, and it is more rea- soned and cautious than much of the other work cited here. Vischer's, Worringer's, and Listowel's most enduring works, the ones cited here, were doctoral theses written by young men. They are ardent confident works. I cannot help but wonder just how ardent, how much more confident this dis- sertation might have been, had I written it in my twenties. Perhaps the entire problem of distinguish- ing between these two thinkers can be summarized as a tendency to cite Lipps' famous definition of empathy ("the felicitous enjoyment of the objecti- fied self (Lipps 1903/1979, 373)") as a stripping of Idealism from Vischer's work. Vischer's own com- ments do not support this distinction: "To trace the outline of a form is a self-movement, an act that is predominantly subjective: the form being no more than an arbitrary, wilful, and unilateral means by which the body can enjoy itself." Only two paragraphs later, this imaginary and subjective event also has an objectifying outcome: "Yet even though this whole pleasure of self-motion is imagined, an objectiviza- 31 tion nevertheless takes place; we have a strange knack of confusing our own feeling with that of nature" (Vischer 1873/1993, 107). A more sensitive descriptor might mention Lipps' phrase as a concise sum- mary of Vischer's own view. At the methodological level, they wrote as if believing their goals to be much the same as those of their predecessors and that those who followed, whatever the differences of opinion over the "content" of their thought, would likewise be engaging in the same very long conversa- tion. These alignments and distinctions commonly imposed upon Vischer and Lipps in fact misread the clear distinctions which now exist between disciplines such as science and philosophy backwards into the text. In addition, these interpretations typically read our own suspicions around anything other-than- material onto Vischer, just as they tend to do with Berkeley. Vischer's way of seeing the world did not admit of this particular dichotomy, and hence his vision of empathy, even with its projection of the "ideal self was a statement of reality for him on a par with other physical realities, or idealities. When traditional disciplines, including those I access in this dissertation, dare to venture outside their usual fence lines, their record is often poor in a number of ways. Literary theory, notorious for pirat- ing from other fields, certainly is not always respectful of the ways of being inherent to those fields. This approach is not inherently wrongheaded, since questioning the fundamental structures of thought behind these fields is often the goal of the endeavour. However, making not much of an attempt to understand things from within can lead to the sorts of worries and misinterpretations, such as Kohn's almost wilful imposition of one kind of language upon another sort of disciplinary culture (above). Science likewise tends to subject everything it sees to its own approaches prior to or instead of making an attempt to grasp the language itself. There is a real cost to these failures. If we don't attempt, when possible, to seek the contexts for earlier thinkers' texts, we are easily led into a temporal chauvinism, whereby we miss the clarity and nuance existing in other and prior systems of thought, and attribute a far greater level of inno- vation and clarity than actually exists to our own. I was fortunate to be sensitive to some of the relevant issues in the particular cases mentioned above, and hence can allow those sensitivities to inflect my own reading of the interpreters. Clearly, 32 however, there will be numerous situations where I will miss exactly the sorts of assumptions I criticize above. A constant suspicion, on my part and on yours, is clearly called for, along with a presumption that at least some of the earlier writers might just possibly have been as intelligent as some of the more recent ones. This sort of goodwill is often assumed these days as essential between cultures; it is the form of goodwill I hope to bring to this interdisciplinary work. Given the enormous potential for fundamental misunderstanding, perhaps I am a fool to attempt such a wide reading. Nonetheless, I intend to make my best attempt, via the sort of goodwill just men- tioned, and via states of alertness and suspicion, to read other disciplines with not just inter-linguistic, but inter-cultural care. With respect to the older writers, I will necessarily be regressing back down the stream, making my best effort to inhabit the relevant fields, to hear them from within their own idiom, while bringing them under the heading of empathy. There is no such thing as absolute clarity of under- standing or interpretation in such an endeavour. There is no complete elimination of the refractions of disciplinary and temporal cataracts. I am perhaps seeking rather, like my father-in-law, to compensate for these distortions of my lenses as well as I can, by added light and glasses which reduce diffraction, so as to drive, if not at night, perhaps at least with more vigilance, and perhaps seeing the path with a little more definition than I might otherwise. I may still drive off the road. W r i t i n g V o i c e s Like reading, writing has posed a series of technical and functional problems. The certainties and stabili- ties of texts written with given disciplines allow for great concision in exposition, for elegance in the writ- ing, and for clarity in argument. This dissertation, however, straddles five or more disciplines, across the arts, humanities, and sciences. When I first began this degree, I believed that I would somehow find a way to encompass and include insights from each of these disciplines in some reasonably smooth whole. I believed in my ability to accomplish this fusion not out of a disrespect for the rigour of the individual discourse related to these disciplines, but rather because, despite those rigours, I had read and written texts in each of these areas, 33 and this process had, after all, occurred within my one body without my brain exploding. In retrospect, this belief looks naive, for reasons mentioned above and below. In response to the agency/determinism discourse question already mentioned, I have made a structural choice. I have chosen to attempt to allow each of these two broad discourses a degree of integ- rity and autonomy within the individual Case Studies, by not jumping too quickly to analysis from "the other side" of the determinism/agency dichotomy. In the Coda at the end of Case Study III, I attempt to bring them together. At the level of vocabulary, one challenge has been to establish the nature of "common knowl- edge." Words and phrases which need no definition in one field are unused, or used differently, in others. Stories and theories that are so well known as to be deployed without citation in one discipline are un- known in the next. "Subject" and "object" and their various related forms, for example, carry a vast array of meanings: Is the "subject" of empathy the empathizer or the empathizee or some situation apparent to them both? And should I assume that every reader understands the "necessary and sufficient" approach to definitions? I have not wanted to burden this text, already made large and somewhat loose by its nature, with definitions and references necessary to only certain of its potential readers. I've adopted a number of strategies in this regard, including the glossary, and text boxes with stories, theories and commentary. One of the most difficult aspects of this dissertation has been finding a language in which to write. I have tended to experience this, from the Creative Writing side of my background, as a crisis of voice. This "voice" is intuitive in practice—in every Creative Writing seminar I've attended, there has been very uniform agreement about when texts have shifted voice. It is composed of a complex mix in- cluding level and details of vocabulary, but also details of diction, level of formality, grammar, lengths of sentences, uses of commas, and is often closely related to the speaking voices (conceived broadly) avail- able to any given person. I have made a number of false starts. In the earlier stages of my comprehensive essays, as I wrote particular sections, the language would seem to conform itself to the most recently read German dulness, and English affectation, have of late much multiplied among us the use of two of the most objectionable words that were ever coined by the troublesomeness of metaphysicians — namely, "Ob- jective" and "Subjective". (Ruskin 1856, §1) 34 articles and books, and hence take on the flavours of particular disciplines. Near the end of that process, I tried to incorporate more-typical creative writing—e.g. a metaphor of a lute—in the more conventionally academic parts. This resulted in writing which was inferior in my own estimation in both its academic and creative aspects, lacking the concision of the one and failing to become texts which would be inde- pendently readable as the other. However, the comprehensive exam process provided its own answer in a quite social way. In addressing their various comments, I have wound up writing the discursive body of the dissertation to meet the needs and desires of my dissertation committee. Any part of this dissertation which can be un- derstood by such a diverse group as my committee is generally going to be understood by thoughtful readers from outside the halls of academe, such as my close friends. The voice which I've adopted for the discursive passages feels very close to my own speaking voice when I describe my work to interested friends, albeit with greater technical description at points. This voice, however, generates an anxiety. The sense that a voice may be in some way relatively natural to Reader, I think proper, before we proceed any farther together, to acquaint thee that I intend to digress, through this whole history, as often as I see occa- sion... . (Tom Jones, Fielding 1749/1992, 10) me does not mean that it is my one real voice—I certainly have others. Further, the unity of discursive voice could potentially obscure the other voices which have contributed to this work—a problem much less apparent when the dissertation and the cited materials all speak similar idioms. The various caveats and digressions are, at times (contra Fielding, who warned his critics to "mind their own business" (1749/1992, 10)), attempts to answer the various critics who have already seen this dissertation, but are also attempts to disrupt that apparent unity. In addition, I've included a variety of other forms within the body of this text, not just quotes from other thinkers, but emails, fiction, stories, and poems by other peo- ple and by myself. I also conclude with an essay, written and edited with every intent toward publication as stand-alone non-fiction works. It is my hope that this multiplexity of form and voice will not just in- form the text, but disrupt it, thus nodding toward the multi-disciplinary roots of this project, thereby trans- ferring some continuing unease from the writer to the reader. Other "messy" choices include presenting the scanned images in the second Case Study with their edges showing. It is easy now to present a seam- 35 less image, edited on Photoshop. My images are no less constructed, but I hope they signal something of the complexity of my own process. DIGRESSION—A V O C A B U L A R Y QUESTION Well before trying to define empathy we need some words with which to describe the parties to empathy. If we take a human-to-human situation, there are two parties, a person experiencing empathy, and the per- son about whom they are experiencing empathy. These parties have received many different labels: sub- ject-object and observer-model are among the most common. Subject-object has become suspect as a word-pair in many fields, but especially literary theory. Further, the technical usage, wherein the experi- encer of empathy is the subject and the person they are responding to is the object, runs counter to ordi- nary usage, wherein I might easily say, "Chris was the subject of my empathy." Model works well enough—it evokes a sense of a distance maintained, and has nice allusions to the visual arts, but its fre- quent partner, observer, is too clinical, and too exclusively visual. I prefer beholder, which, even though now primarily a "watcher, spectator," still retains some resonances like those which attach to "behold" and "beholden." These older senses arise from "be-" intensifying "hold": "to hold by," "to concern," and especially "to regard (with the mind), consider" (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary). In these hints, and even in its slightly archaic echoes, behold preserves the sense of mystery which pervades our experiences of those around us, and its mixing of discourses suits the nature of this work. This choice further frees object to mean some situation or state which the beholder and the model may or may not be focussed upon. At a practical level, where the vocabulary used within the sources is clear, I will leave it alone; where it is ambiguous, I will clarify by using "model" and "beholder." J3J3J3J3J3J2 Areas I W o n ' t Focus O n There are a significant number of other dissertations which could be written using the materials addressed in this one: the way empathy functions in the creative process for a writer, for example, or the role of em- 36 pathy in reactions to trauma received through artistic media, including visual, textual, and auditory. In- deed, there are entire disciplinary fields highly relevant to empathy which I will touch on almost not at all, except when they directly impact some specific particular central to the interests of this dissertation. From Vischer on, various motivations for empathy have been propounded. Vischer suggests a desire to replace the inanimate with the human (1873/1993 24). While I agree with D'Arms (2000, 1482) that, "Whether the capacity for empathy has a selective history of the sort that might make it an adaptation is an interesting question," but we will avoid that question. I also will not focus upon the vast developmen- tal literature about empathy, except in evolving a definition, and where it is very specifically relevant to other questions which are addressed in this dissertation. My focus is upon adults, and I am interested in volitional implications, in choices which can be made around empathy and texts. Nevertheless, the psychological literature about the role of empathy in promoting pro-social behaviour, particularly altruistic action, while extremely important, is beyond the scope of this paper. D I G R E S S I O N : O T H E R D I S S E R T A T I O N S I C O U L D H A V E W R I T T E N W I T H T H E S E M A T E R I A L S How trauma gets into the text: Empathy and the writer How trauma gets out of texts: Empathy and the reader Empathy and the rhetoric of genre: How do the reader's genre expectations influence their empathic ex- perience of texts? The writer's responsibility: Balancing our responsibilities to those we write about with those who will read us When cultural relativism isn 't enough: Empathy, recent critical theory, and international aid workers' decisions "on the ground " When empathy isn't enough: Can Rogers' as if be trained, and what are the implications for engaging with other cultures When the homeless need something from City Hall: The role of individual stories in invoking productive empathy without invoking excessive empathic trauma 37 How good science becomes bad popular literature: The migration of empathy from brain scans into newspapers, news magazines, and popular science magazines Explanations from empathic denial—empathy can CAUSE denial—as we re-experience the trauma Implications for ethical maturity: A correlation of the development of empathy in childhood with devel- opment of understandings of reality 38 History and Definitions of the Term "Empathy" I'll begin this exploration of the history and definitions of empathy by asserting my belief that there are some aspects of human experience similar enough from human to human to deserve a definition under the word empathy. One evidence for this is that empathy, even viewed from vastly different fields, appears quite similar in important ways. Given this similarity, and because the word empathy and its immediate predecessor Einfiihlung were coined at a relatively recent time, there can be a sense that its history and meanings are much clearer than terms of more ancient provenance. This sense is in certain ways an illu- sion. Empathy has its roots in many and complex earlier concepts and has evolved in complex ways within a wide array of disciplines. D I G R E S S I O N A N D C A V E A T : W H O REALLY I N V E N T E D T H E T E R M EINFUHLUNG Furthering the sense of complexity within this current document, I need to point out that it would take several more years than I have already spent to read every relevant document in English alone, even if the literature were not constantly expanding. Further, I don't read German—the language of much of the im- portant work—though I must make at least some attempt to understand the impact of works in that lan- guage upon the current project. In yet another example of reading at least partially blind, I am often de- pendent upon others' summaries of the history, knowing they in turn may merely be citing work other than their own. I've been writing, and will shortly begin writing again, in a way very similar to that of the histori- cal summaries of empathy offered in any number of texts. However, both the confidence and linearity of this approach are suspect. Many histories of empathy assert that Robert Vischer invented the term Ein- fiihlung. The act whereby we bestow on things our own soul and its moods... has been christened Ein- fiihlung by Volkelt and Robert Vischer. (Listowel 1933, 54) This term was first used by R. Vischer in his essay Uber das Optische Fonngefiihl. (Listowel 1933, 54 note 2) In 1872 Robert Vischer... named this process Einfuhlung. (Gauss 1973, 86) 39 The word Einfiihlung (empathy) occurs in [Uber das Optische Formgefiihl] for the first time. (Wind 1985, 150-1 note 90) However, in a note on one of my comprehensive exams, my supervisor queried such bald assertions, and asked me to "verify" this assertion. My attempt to confirm this one apparently straightforward fact led me into hours of work over several weeks. I began by checking Edgar Wind's note, cited as a source in a "History of the Concept of Empathy" (Wispe 1987), which was itself cited by numerous other books and articles. It was Wind's comment about another author in the same note that suggested a possible chain of misattributions. Even more surprising is that Geoffrey Scott, who had studied Wofflin with much care, found it possible in 1914 to introduce empathy as a revolutionary aesthetic (The Architecture of Humanism viii), mistakenly ascribing its invention to Lipps, who was in fact its systematizer. (Wind 1985, 150 note 90) I had noticed in passing this same misattribution to Lipps in a number of texts (e.g. Hakansson 2003, 1-2), but while Wind described this misattribution, he didn't give any very good support for his own claims about Vischer. None of the other quite extensive references I possessed gave any clear source for their assertions about this question of Vischer's invention of Einfiihlung. Further, I couldn't determine, even with those like Listowel and Wind who apparently read German, whether they had an exhaustive knowledge of the period and literature in question. I launched a search on the internet for papers mentioning any of several related topics. After a number of false starts I found a very generous Lotze expert (William Woodward) who directed me to the "world expert in the history of empathy," Dr. Christian Allesch, whose response to a detailed description of my confusion is as follows: From: C h r i s t i a n . A l l e s c h O s b g . a c . a t Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2005 3:27 AM To: k c o o S u b j e c t : One q u i c k q u e s t i o n Dear Karen, V o l k e l t o r i g i n a l l y u s e d the term "Beseelung" but d e s c r i b e d t h i s phenomenon v e r y s i m i l a r t o Robert V i s c h e r ' s " E i n f u h l u n g " ( f o r example i n h i s book on the " S y m b o l b e g r i f f " of 1876) . V i s c h e r ' s d o c t o r a l t h e s i s - i n which he i n t r o d u c e d the Term " E i n f u h l u n g " as a s y s t e m a t i c term i n a e s t h e t i c s - was p u b l i s h e d i n 1872. At l e a s t w i t h r e s p e c t t o t h i s s y s t e m a t i c a l use o f the term V i s c h e r i s 40 r i g h t to claim p r i o r i t y . However, you can f i n d the term already i n the "Aes- t h e t i c s " of h i s father F r i e d r i c h Theodor Vischer who speaks about "unbe- wusstes Einfiihlen der Seele" [the unconscious projecting of the s o u l ] i n t h i s context. Thus, the basic idea can be traced to F. Th. Vischer but i t was Robert who elaborated i t to a systematic theory. You w i l l f i n d some information i n the respective chapter of my book; a copy of t h i s chapter i s already on the way to you. Best regards, C h r i s t i a n A l l e s c h At last! Someone who had read all of the relevant documents, and had written a chapter in a book detail- ing what he found there about the history of empathy. I trusted his assessment, so in one sense my quest was over. In addition, how exciting to be able to read his history of the term. His chapter, however, ar- rived in German, pointing in a painful way to one of my original problems. With his permission I sought a translator, but upon discovering that the cost would be a minimum of U.S. $500.00,1 gave up. I could have given up much earlier; after all the answer in the end was not especially enlighten- ing. While I gained a useful sense of the extent to which empathy or something like it was in the air, it matters very little for this dissertation whether Robert Vischer precisely invented the term, or merely con- jugated some concept which clearly was abroad amongst his colleagues, including his illustrious father. My inability to let go, however, clued me in to a particular disciplinary uncertainty and anxiety. I am not an historian, even of the term which most interests me, so my uncertainty was as to how much was enough—how far did I need to go in attempting to read what had been written by those who were ex- perts? This uncertainty and its associated anxieties attach to much of this dissertation. Still, the experi- ence freed me from ever hoping to gain adequate answers to any of a variety of questions in the disci- plines I reference. The anxiety is not thereby put to bed, but it is stored in the closet, and however fre- quently it pokes its head out I must simply move on. All of this provides a cautionary tale for my readers as well. There is a substantial degree of un- certainty about any of these texts. The more abstracted the history, the more steps from the original texts, the less confidence any of us ought to feel. Indeed, as Wind's comments show, even someone far closer to the original works can get it wrong. However it's far too cumbersome to precede every sentence with, 41 "the balance of probabilities suggests that Jones said the following in year X" or, the more personal but honest comment, "everyone appears to believes the following, but what the hell do I know." Instead I have provided this cautionary digression and now that I know that you know that I don't know, I'll now proceed to treat this more or less the way everyone else does—taking my best guess based on the evi- dence and writing as if it were far more certain than it appears to be. J3J3J3J3J3J3J3J3 History The word empathy has a relatively short history. In his doctoral thesis of 1873, Robert Vischer coined the German noun Einfuhlung f"in-feeling" or "feeling-into") and developed a substantial description of empa- thy as it relates to the production and apprehension of art. Vischer's ideas were fleshed out by Theodor Lipps, and entered psychology via the work of psychologist Edward Titchener, who coined the word "empathy" as a translation of the German term. PRE-VISCHER Two strands of thought, one regarding sympathy and one aesthetics, are of interest leading up to Vischer's work. It is in some ways artificial to separate them, since these early thinkers were usually concerned both with human-to-human sympathy and with the arts, amongst a wide variety of mental phenomena, and the setting for their thought is often an epistemological drive to explore how we know anything at all. The concept of sympathy was developed in a systematic way in the 18th century by David Hume and Adam Smith, among others, and incorporated a wide variety of emotions and responses which we would now differentiate under headings such as identity, sympathy, empathy and altruism. Hume was read by Lipps, and mentioned with great approval. In an attempt to explain "benevolent concern for the well-being of others," he describes the way emotion is transmitted from one person to another, beginning with the "unreflective transfer of emotional expressions from model to observer," in a non-cognitive mimicry we would now call "contagion" (D'Arms 2000, 1483-87). Hume also "observed 'a very remark- able inclination in human nature, to bestow on external objects the same emotions which it observes in 42 itself... which he thought noticeable only in 'children, poets, and the antient philosophers'" (Aschenbrenner and Isenberg 1965, 401). In the next century, though still prior to Robert Vischer, Ruskin would formulate this tendency as the pathetic fallacy, though what Ruskin calls the pathetic fal- lacy, "... [Vischer's] doctrine of empathy denies... is a fallacy at all, or rather, it confines the inclination to its proper sphere and investigates its rather remarkable workings" (Aschenbrenner and Isenberg 1965, 401). Smith, likewise hoping to explain individual moral self-restraint, also believes in fellow-feeling. But he proposes active imagination as the mechanism, generating "sensations which are generally similar to, although typically weaker than, those of the other person" (Davis 1996, 3). These two mechanisms of identification have remained both essential and contentious in all ensuing discussions of empathy. Mallgrave and Ikonomou place Vischer's aesthetics in the context of a key turning point, looking back toward Immanuel Kant and forward toward a modern sensibility (Mallgrave and Ikonomou 1994, 2- 4). Indeed Kant contributed a number of notions which not only influenced Vischer, but which have re- mained important to concepts of empathy. For Kant, form and space are "mental constructions of the ob- server, a subjective condition under which sense perception operates" (Mallgrave and Ikonomou 1994, 5), hence the judgement of beauty is located firmly in the subject, not the object of the contemplation (Gauss 1973, 85-6). He distinguished disinterested aesthetic contemplation as a "fascinated attention" apart from virtually all other concerns including "practical, moral, cognitive, appetitive interest" (Rader 1979, 332). Kant's Idealism, however, led him into serious difficulties and inconsistencies, including an insistence that there could be, for example, "no ideal house or palace" in art, since "only the human form... can convey the moral attributes of heart, purity... " (Mallgrave and Ikonomou 1994, 8). Arthur Schopenhauer, to whom much later work, including Vischer is "fundamentally indebted" (Morgan 1996, 318), developed the subjective side of Kant's thought. He treated contemplation of na- ture, architecture, music, and art as alike involving a "will-less aesthetic" contemplation, which provided an escape from the realm of blind will. He also sharpened the focus on the physiology of perception. (Mallgrave and Ikonomou 1994, 8-10). What is revealed, and what the artist can then embody in his me- 43 dium, is "the eternal platonic form underlying appearances" (Morgan 1996, 319). Especially interesting for empathy is the loss of self entailed when in contemplation we "devote the whole power of our mind to perception." In this act, "we lose ourselves entirely in this object"; all sense of self dissolves along with any distinction between the perceiver and the perceived (Schopenhauer in Morgan 1996, 319). The most significant influence on Robert Vischer was certainly his famous father, Frederich Theodor Vischer, who in exploring form, space, and symbolism, especially in the realm of architecture, derived "the notion of 'aesthetic symbolism', or the involuntary and unconscious treatment of art and na- ture as symbolic of human life and personality... " (Listowel 1933, 53). This activity is an "animation of art and nature, the act whereby we bestow on things our own soul and its moods, a peculiar and strictly aesthetic activity... " (Listowel 1933, 54). The philosophical context for this work was Idealism: "... beauty for him, was still in essence the sensuous appearance, or the appearance in sensuous form, of the metaphysical Idea... the unique spiritual substance of which the entire universe is fabricated" (Listowel 1933, 52). F. T. Vischer seems to have used the word Einfiihlen in this context. Robert Vischer inherited the Idealism and adopted the concept, setting to work in his doctoral thesis first by inventing the term Ein- fiihlung, then by exploring its mechanisms in the viewing and production of art. VISCHER AND LIPPS In his introduction to his thesis, On the Optical Sense of Form: A Contribution to Aesthetics (Uber das Optische Formgefiihl: Ein Beitrag zur Asthetic), Vischer approvingly outlines aspects from the work of several immediate predecessors in the long history of discussion around the topics of form, space, and art, describing them as the basis for his own work. His father, Frederick Theodor Vischer, has contributed a distinction between two aesthetic effects which occur through sensation when observing inorganic and "lower organic" (plant) phenomena: in the first, we "involuntarily read our emotions into them," tending to confuse the phenomena with this content. In the second, we "maintain our freedom to perceive the symbolic process as nothing more than an analogy" (Vischer 1873/1993). Karl Kostlin has described an 44 awareness of the human tendency to see in everything a reflection of one's own "mental states, experi- ences, sensations, moods, emotions, and passions" (Kostlin 1869, 322-326). However, the most crucial immediate influence for Robert Vischer is provided by a book on dreams, Das Leben des Traums (The Life of the Dream), by Karl Albert Schemer (1861). Here it was shown how the body, in responding to certain stimuli in dreams, objectifies itself in spatial forms. Thus it unconsciously projects its own bodily form—and with this also the soul— into the form of the object. From this I derived the notion that I call "empathy" [Einfuhlung]. (Vischer 1873/1993) Both Vischer and Lipps were concerned with both aesthetic and human-to-human empathy. A certain number of writers, usually in psychology, simply impute the creation of the term Einfuhlung to Lipps, and give it only its psychological weight (the likely father of these mistakes is mentioned in Wind (1985, 150- 1). Others from a variety of disciplines perpetuate another common misconception about the topic to which Vischer and Lipps addressed themselves. Fairly typical descriptions might run: [Einfuhlung] was used in German aesthetics to refer to a postulated kind of response to art, in which one first engages in some involuntary bodily mimicry of the work, then projects onto it an emotional response that somehow fits with one's acquitted bodily posture. Theodor Lipps eventu- ally came to think the phenomenon could occur in interpersonal cases as well .... (D'Arms 2000, 1478) or: But here the theory of Einfuhlung virtually turns itself on its head. Originally the paradigmatic cases of empathy were inanimate objects, including "expressive" works of art. Once psychother- apy and ethics captured the term, however, persons became paradigmatic. (Depew 2005, §9) The first of these is by a philosopher writing in a law journal, the second by a professor of rhetoric, writ- ing in a journal for that discipline. Davis (1996, 5), Gauss (1973), and Barnes and Thagard (1997) also trace this supposed develop- ment of thought from aesthetic projection or union with inanimate forms to projection upon humans, as if somehow the earlier thinkers hadn't noticed the phenomenon relative to other people until after recogniz- ing it in reactions to architecture, sculpture and painting. Aside from being slightly ridiculous, this con- struction is inaccurate in several important ways. While it is true that Vischer's focus is more aesthetic and Lipps' more psychological, it would be far more accurate to say that both Vischer and Lipps assume 45 something like empathy between humans, and also apply it to artistic objects. Vischer, for example, de- scribes a farmer, cheerful at good weather, downcast at hail: And yet as long as the farmer supposes that he alone is affected, the difference between his feeling and his sensation can only be one of degree . . . . Only by considering our fellow beings do we as- cend to a true emotional life. This natural love for my species is the only thing that makes it pos- sible for me to project myself mentally; with it, I feel not only myself but at the same time the feeling of another being. (Vischer 1873/1993, 103) In Vischer's own eyes, his innovation, and that of those predecessors he approvingly cites, has to do with extending this concept and its ramifications to the viewing and production of art. While over-limiting the concept, the Earl of Listowel, having acknowledged the long history of "sympathy," at least gets it the right way around in his discussion of Einfiihlung when he says that for these thinkers, "all delight in beauty is ultimately nothing but a joyous feeling of sympathy" (Listowel 1933, 57). The genius of the thing is precisely that Vischer and Lipps are keen to explore the relationship between the acknowledged existence of human-to-human empathy and our reactions to art, and as traced above, clearly much prior thinking about each of these was extant. Viewing the two strands together, they begin the process of clarifying and separating empathy away from sympathy. At the same time, without denying that our responses to humans are different, their approach calls attention to the fundamental one- ness of our perceptual systems and our responses, but not simply from the mechanistic physiological side—the same eyes, the same perceptual organs taking in the data. The idea is still that our reactions to art, to other people, and to the world as a whole are conditioned by something much more fundamental, but this fundamental conditioner is something complex and warm and lively—empathy. This approach represents a shift in point of view, asking how something intricate and human influences our perception, and involves Vischer and Lipps in the increasingly modern, even post-modern, discussion of the construc- tion of reality. E M P A T H Y POST-LIPPS Several strands can be traced in the emergence of empathy from the era of Vischer and Lipps in diverse areas including aesthetics, the emerging social sciences, and psychology. 46 D I G R E S S I O N : C O N C U R R E N T D E V E L O P M E N T S The evolution of any complex idea is nearly impossible to trace, as certain lines of thought come together, others diverge, and still others die out completely. A given conceptual mutation may arise independently in several places at once, as if its time has come. Further, when focussing within the eventual products of this chaotic developmental process, it is the nature of explorations such as this dissertation to work back- wards in a quite linear way through obvious nodes of influence, ignoring offshoots which do not seem closely related to where we now find ourselves. This is a necessary simplification, and in a moment, I too will select the strands of thought which serve my goals and illuminate the writings I most want to use, but prior to doing so I want to establish that the actual situation is considerably more confused. We've already seen that the concept which became Einfuhlung emerged from a welter of discus- sions, often but not always under the rubric of some form of sympathy. Ruskin's pathetic fallacy and Volkelt's Beseelung have already been mentioned. Just to take two further examples, in a later edition of his thesis Vischer himself notes, "Only after completing the present work did I become aware of Hermann Lotze's Mikwkosmos (Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1856-1854)" (1873/1993, 92). In the Mikrokosmos and even more in later works Lotze had indeed already described and developed something very similar to Vischer's Einfuhlung but ascribed its action primarily to a form of recollection fusing remembered physi- cal states to particular emotional memories (Listowel 1933, 53; Mallgrave and Ikonomou 1994, 20). Similarly, while Titchener (1909/1967) certainly introduced the word "empathy" into English, by 1897 Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) had already read Vischer and written about Einfuhlung, thereby introduc- ing the German term into English aesthetics. Interestingly, like Titchener and Lotze, she linked Ein- fiihlung to physical sensation allied with remembrance (Gauss 1973, 86). Others, such as Baldwin, were at about this time developing closely related concepts such as ejective consciousness to explain the sense that we can know what is going on in other minds (Wispe 1987). Despite this multiplicity of interacting developments, however, Vischer's work appears genuinely to have acted as an hourglass-like narrowing of the conceptual stream, collecting various strands of thought into a tight circumference by coining a term and then releasing it with its related concept. This 47 conceptual move, particularly as interpreted by Lipps, then opened out again into the new and ever-wi- dening disciplines which were establishing themselves. Let's now return to my own necessarily linear and reductive account. J3J3J3J3J3J3 In Aesthetics Empathy experienced "its greatest acceptance as a fundamental principle of the theory of art" during the early 1900's and thereafter its influence as a concept within that realm waned rapidly (Gauss 1973, 88). Depew suggests two reasons for the waning of empathy as a construct in aesthetics. In the practice of art, the move toward "alienation and defamiliarization rather than identification" lessened the relevance of empathy. More generally, the tight link between aesthetics and German nation-building led, via the Holocaust, to the discrediting of much of that aesthetics, and particularly of "any strong link between aes- thetics and empathy" (Depew 2005, 3). A further influence, already evident in Lipps, entails the separat- ing of the various disciplines, with the study of the psychology of aesthetics moving firmly into the psy- chological camp. In recent years, there have been occasional revivals of interest in empathy as a descrip- tive construct within aesthetics. Shoul (2003), for example, examines recent work from within the cogni- tive sciences in reviving an empathic reading of architecture, primarily from the unconscious side, refer- encing Lipps, among others, whose, "... assumptions have rested upon intuitions about assumed facul- ties, common to everyone, which enable meaningful connections to be made about rather disparate 'things in the head' as between feelings stimulated by sensuous, bodily experience, and feelings stimulated by the experience of kinds of art" (Shoul 2003, 1). In the application of scientific research and forms of thought to aesthetic questions, this attempt and others like it are very much in Lipps' vein and would please him, I think. In the Emerging Social Sciences According to Gauss, a second strand of thought emerged within the social sciences, as they began to dis- tinguish themselves and their epistemologies for both the arts and the hard sciences. Thinkers such as Weber and Dilthey made empathic understanding a method for discovery in fields such as history and 48 anthropology. This approach made a knowledge claim which went beyond that of Lipps, namely that through a deliberate projection we could in some sense truly re-experience "the motivations and mental purposes of another" and thus had access to the "causes of that person's actions" (Gauss 1973; 86-7). This strand touches again upon the more conscious side of empathy mentioned by Hume, and looks for- ward to the empathic therapeutic method of Rogers. In Psychology and the Human Sciences The developments in aesthetics and in the social sciences no doubt interplayed with those in psychology. However, it is in psychology, individual, social, and developmental, that we find the movements which lead eventually both to the harder sciences in their approach to empathy and to the common language un- derstanding of the term. Theodor L i p p s In psychology, Lipps proves to be a critical hinge. As we've mentioned, his methodology and his understandings are in many ways similar to Vischer's. Nonetheless, he strips from his writing the Idealist metaphysics which surround Vischer's discussions of Einfuhlung and points to- ward the scientific psychology which is by his time firming up as a very distinct endeavour. Perhaps due to his work in optical illusions, where he had already concluded that at least some illusions could be explained on the basis of "the characteristics of those who viewed them," he also exhibits a greater sensitivity to the extent to which one's own inner state influences one's experience of Einfuhlung (Wispe 1987, 19). Edward Titchener The word empathy enters English and is truly popularized by Titchener*. Both Lipps and Titchener regard empathy toward another human as similar to the aesthetic version. Titchener, however, goes further in limiting empathy to inner imita- These two famous illusions were explored by Lipps in 1897, though the one on the right is usually misattributed to Ponzo. "Probably—Depew points out that the word empathies was de- ployed by Plotinus, with, however, a quite different meaning, namely as an intense state, the opposite of apathy. Thus Vischer may have been deliberately translating the Greek word into German, and Titchener could be making a similar move into English. (Depew 2005, §5-7) 49 tion. In a series of lectures from 1909, Titchener wants to discuss "free kinaesthetic images," ideal states which correspond to kinaesthetic sensation as visual images correspond to direct visual sensation, and in the process gives a more detailed description of the processes of empathy (Titchener 1909/1967, 20). He notes that he has been, up to a certain time, in doubt that such things existed at all, but now says: You will notice the difference at once... if you compare an actual nod of the head with the mental nod that signifies assent to an argument . . . . Now that it has become clear, I seem to find that the kinaesthetic image and the kinaesthetic sensation differ in ail essential respects precisely as visual image differs from visual sensation. (Titchener 1909/1967, 21) Because visual images and kinaesthesis often act together, "Not only do I see gravity and modesty... , but I feel or act them in the mind's muscles." He labels this activity "a simple case of empathy, if we may coin that term as a rendering of Einfuhlung" (Titchener 1909/1967, 21). Even more than Lipps, he sees all from a sensational point of view. Both the production and reception of words and the experience of empathy interact mutually with our kinaesthetic states. So Titchener's kinaesthetic state is physically different should he sit down to type a lecture as compared to sitting down to type a letter to a friend. Similarly, his experience of incoming sensation is influenced by "an author's choice and arrangement of words, by the intonation of a speaking voice, by the nature of my physical and social environment at large," and his eventual empathic reactions by the situation, internal and external, in which he finds himself (Titchener 1909/1967, 174-85). While Titchener is unquestionably a psychologist committed to the scientific exercise he at numerous points re- fers to musical and literary applications of his theories. He believes that conscious ideas or sensations can result from the accumulation of unconscious events. Titchener thus locates the understanding of empathy further away from conscious or deliberate response toward the unconscious and immediate. Titchener to Rogers After Titchener, empathy ceased to be much of a focus in experimental psychology. It was, how- ever, mentioned by Freud, and explored in depth by a series of personality therapists, beginning in the 1920's and continuing through the last century. These theorists, including Downey, Allport, and Murphy, leaned toward psychotherapy and away from behaviourism. In each case, however, they adopted wide definitions of empathy, elaborating both unconscious inner imitation and conscious inferential identifica- 50 tion. Despite a certain increase in clarity, however, Wispe contends that the concept had still "only been applied, rather than analyzed," prior to the advent of Carl Rogers' work (Wispe 1987, 25-27). C a r l Rogers If any one person can lay claim to popularizing the idea of empathy within the therapeutic com- munity and thereby shaping its wider public sense it would be psychotherapist and personality theorist Carl Rogers. His wider impact arises first from his focus upon empathy within his practice not just as a therapist, but as a researcher. Lauren Wispe claims, "Without doubt, the present popularity of empathy as a construct comes from Rogers's emphasis on it, and his definition put it squarely into an objective, re- searchable, personality framework" (Wispe 1987, 29). Hakansson acknowledges Rogers' empirical ap- proach, but suggests that he was, "less concerned with a theory of empathy than with finding a term to convey that particular attitude of nonjudgmentally entering another inner world he regarded as so impor- tant in psychotherapy" (Hakansson 2003, 4). His essential formulation is: The state of empathy, or being empathic, is to perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person, but without ever losing the "as i f condition. Thus it means to sense the hurt or the pleasure of another as he senses it and to perceive the causes thereof as he perceives them, but without ever losing the recognition that it is as if I were hurt or pleased and so forth. If this "as i f quality is lost, then the state is one of identification (Rogers 1959, 210-11). We see here that, despite his emphasis on an empirical approach to the assessment of empathy, this theorist's own definition sees no paradox between that approach and formulations describing empa- thy as that which allows the therapist to "perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accu- racy" (Rogers 1959, 210), or, in a later paper, "entering the private perceptual world of the other and be- coming thoroughly at home in i f (Rogers 1975, 4). His caveats about maintaining clarity about the na- ture of this process, namely that it is undergone as if one were the client (Rogers 1959, 211), do not imply a limit on the extent to which one can be accurate, but rather upon the emotional participation of the therapist, since it is important for the therapist to maintain, for example, a lack of fear in areas where the client is fearful. Rogers as if cm be seen as advocating a deliberate dose of the old Idealists' disinterested contemplation, this time with respect to the client. 51 D I G R E S S I O N : W H E N T H E F A T H E R O F C O N T E M P O R A R Y E M P A T H Y C O U L D N ' T W R I T E A B O U T E M P A T H Y . In a paper in 1975, Rogers describes a process whereby his earlier descriptions of therapeutic process were reduced by others to caricatures. "I was so shocked by these complete distortions of our approach that for a number of years I said almost nothing about empathic listening, and'when I did it was to stress an empathic attitude with little comment as to how this might be implemented in the relationship" (Rogers 1975, 3). Thus the father of empathic therapy abandoned a core concept in his writing and speak- ing for a very long time rather than risk severe misrepresentation. Yet he is by 1975 constrained to ad- dress empathy forthrightly again. "[Empathy] is one of the most delicate and powerful ways we have of using ourselves" (Rogers 1975, 2), he points out. Further, "Over the years, however, the research evi- dence keeps piling up, and it points strongly to the conclusion that a high degree of empathy in a relation- ship is possibly the most potent and certainly one of the most potent factors in bringing about change and learning" (Rogers 1975, 3). Also, he believes he senses growing desire to shift away from forms of ther- apy in which the therapist is the expert, and a shift toward "ways of being with people which evoke self- directed change, which locate power in the person, not the expert... " (Rogers 1975, 3). As a result of all of these factors, he writes a glorious and detailed article about empathy, summarizing his own findings and those of many others, along with his many years' experience in therapy, to re-iterate the essential na- ture of empathy. This entire story points to the various currents, professional and personal, which can influence the texts which come down to us. In Roger's case we have his explanation for the long absence of empathy from his written work. Even when we can't know their precise nature, it's worthwhile for us to assume that similar pressures are active upon all written work at some level. And as we'll see in Case Study III, those pressures appear particularly intense when viewing research into controversial or easily disbelieved phenomena such as ritual abuse. J3J3J3J3J3J3 52 In later work, Rogers moves to viewing empathy as a process rather than a state (1975, 4). How- ever, his later work amounts more to an elaboration and working out of empathy, than to any significant move away from his earlier formula. I've included Rogers' full 1975 definition of empathy in an appen- dix (I). Earlier thinkers, including Hume, remarked upon seemingly disparate areas such as interpersonal behaviour and aesthetic enjoyment without necessarily correlating the two. Robert Vischer, and those who followed him, perceived and described a realm of human experience which can be described as ap- plying to both works of art and interpersonal relations, noting a similarity in our experience of these ap- parently disparate areas of activity. Carl Rogers, though he is the result of the dissolution of empathy back into separate streams, and is writing with purely the psychological focus, echoes the aesthetics of a writer addressing only poetry. For now let me point out the similarities between a passage describing the first order of poets, "who feel strongly, think strongly, and see truly" (Ruskin 1856, §9): That is to say, the one knows too much, and perceives and feels too much of the past and future, and of all things beside and around that which immediately affects him, to be in anywise shaken by it. His mind is made up; his thoughts have an accustomed current; his ways are steadfast; it is not this or that new sight which will at once unbalance him. He is tender to impression at the sur- face, like a rock with deep moss upon it; but there is too much mass of him to be moved. (Ruskin 1856, §10) and this one, describing the resistance of the strong therapist to over-identification: To be with another in this way means that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another's world without prejudice. In some sense it means that you lay aside your self and this can only be done by a person who is secure enough in himself that he knows he will not get lost in what may turn out to be the strange or bizarre world of the other, and can comfortably return to his own world when he wishes. (Rogers 1975, 4) This is a small example, but so late in the process of empathy's development a telling one— certain aesthetic and personal phenomena seem to claim a similar treatment—which observation makes an excellent position from which to leave this historical overview and enter definitional negotiations. Definitions I've conducted several years of informal research into the common language sense of empathy, in dozens of conversations, in coffee houses and hospital waiting rooms, on the downtown Eastside of Vancouver, in New York City and Montreal, on buses, and at fancy dinners. Beginning first with my friends, then 53 branching out to acquaintances, and finally even with strangers, I've asked people to tell me what they understand by the word "empathy." With remarkable consistency, my interogees have articulated some- thing like, "Feeling what someone else is feeling." Many, perhaps half, have added, "Putting yourself in someone else's shoes." The sense of empathy which has emerged in these conversations would be en- tirely consistent with a combination of definitions such as these: The power of projecting one's personality into (and so fully comprehending) the object of contem- plation. (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feel- ings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the ca- pacity for this. (Webster's Third New International Dictionary) Empathy is the experiential recognizing and understanding of the states of mind, including beliefs, desires and particularly emotions of others without injecting your own. This concept is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes," or experiencing for oneself the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself. In this sense it might be described as a sort of emotional resonance. (Wikipedia: Empathy) However, in technical contexts, and even were we to confine ourselves to psychology alone, we would be hard pressed to find much agreement about the extent and limits of the term empathy. Daniel Batson et al, for example, point out that, "Psychologists are noted for using terms loosely, but in our use of empathy we have outdone ourselves" (Batson, Fultz, and Schoenrade 1987b, 19). I think Batson et al are too hard on their discipline, given that the history we've traced above more than indicates that (despite the apprehension mentioned above that there is something worth consolidating) definitions of empathy have been to date so profuse and diffuse as to render consistent definition very difficult. Recent defini- tions in technical works range from Hoffman's extraordinarily terse "affective response more appropriate to another's situation than one's own" (Hoffman 2000, 4) to Nilsson's book-length dissertation which is in its entirety a philosophical attempt at the definition of a single word, empathy (Nilsson 2003). For my purposes, a useful definition will stay close to everyday understandings of empathy, with a description narrow enough to distinguish empathy from other related constructs, and broad enough to allow the dis- cussion of ethical issues relating to mature empathic engagement with a wide variety of texts. 54 D I G R E S S I O N — S I M I L A R I T Y A N D A C C U R A C Y , O N C E A G A I N I've already stated that notions of similarity and accuracy can be meaningfully addressed within at least one of the contexts of this dissertation. Attempts to grapple with these topics take various forms in the empathy literature. Many writers simply speak as if at least relative accuracy is possible, or as if there is no difficulty. Nilsson says: To say that empathy with respect to an emotional state of a certain qualitative kind requires merely feeling an emotion of the same kind is, in other words, to say that if you have empathy with re- spect to another person's anger, then you have to merely feel anger, and if you have empathy with respect to the fear of another person, then you have to merely feel fear. Put more specifically, this means that in order to have empathy with someone with respect to an emotional state of a certain kind, you must have the affective experience characteristic of that kind of state. This, I take it, is neither controversial nor problematic. (Nilsson 2003, 136, "merely" refers to Nilsson's technical argument) Of course, it is "neither controversial nor problematic" only if one assumes that one can in some way as- sess the similarity of others' affective states well enough to gauge that they can be labelled as the same emotions. Hoffman at least acknowledges the complexity: Affective empathy seems like a simple concept—one feels what the other feels—and many writers define it in simple outcome terms: One empathizes to the extent that one's feeling matches the other's feeling. The more I study empathy, however, the more complex it becomes. Conse- quently, I have found it far more useful to define empathy not in terms of outcome (affect match) but in terms of the processes underlying the relationship between the observer's and the model's feeling. The key requirement of an empathetic response according to my definition is the in- volvement of psychological processes that make a person have feelings that are more congruent with another's situation than with his own situation. The empathy-arousing processes often pro- duce the same feeling in observer and victim but not necessarily, as when one feels empathic an- ger on seeing someone attacked even when the victim feels sad or disappointed rather than angry. (Hoffman 2000, 30) While acknowledging the complexity, Hoffman still accepts the possibility of "the same feeling." Others choose a more moderated language: Empathy means someone is being influenced by mechanisms "that tend to influence the emotional reactions of one person—the "observer"—so as to produce a match (roughly some sort of congru- ence) between these emotions and those of another person—the "model." (D'Arms 2000, 1480) Again, what constitutes "a match" or "congruence" is not addressed. Vreek and van der Mark address the question more directly: "[Situating empathy within a context of communication] allows one to bypass questions like 'can one ever feel what another persons [sic] feels?'" Further, under this construct, "There is no particular need for explaining how the mind is capable of tracing the truth, in this case, the feeling state of others" (2003, 180). 55 Bypassing the question is certainly tempting. We could, for example, simply agree with Vreeke and van der Mark that, "Empathy thrives on how the empathic person presupposes that the other feels, not on how he actually feels" (2003, 180). However, the relevance to empathy of the other's actual feeling is assumed by most common language speakers and by many of those who use it in a technical sense as well. Wispe's influential description states that, "Empathy... refers to the attempt by one self-aware self to comprehend unjudgmentally the positive and negative experiences of another self. These emotions and reactions are often unclearly understood by the other person... so one important aspect of this process is empathic accuracy" (Wispe 1986, 318). The common language users of the term do not naively assume some exact correspondence, but nonetheless believe it possible to feel something like what the other is feeling. One tunes, emotionally or musically, to a particular pitch, and the tunability of one's empathy seems of the essence of the experi- ence in intimate relationships, as we'll see in looking at the poem "After He has Gone," below. Oddly, and without making any attempt to rationalize its inclusion, even Vreeke and van den Mark acknowledge the possibility of accuracy: Empathic reactions, after all are bound to bear the effect of previous empathic and other commu- nicative encounters. If your friend fails on an exam, you might image or deduct [sic] from your memory that she will be disappointed and accordingly try to console her. She, however, is bound to correct your attempts at consolation, if she does not care about the exam at all . . . . Empathic ac- curacy does not only stem from one's empathic abilities, but relates to what one knows and has learned from others in previous encounters . . . . (Vreeke and van der Mark 2003, 187) With respect to texts, there is no two-way relationship with the persons portrayed. However, for better or worse, one of the important roles texts play as they engage and disengage our empathy is that of training our empathic responses to those we encounter within them, with important implications for Case Study II, below. When examining the sacrificial practices of long-dead Incans, the impossibility of per- fect accuracy must be acknowledged. Nevertheless, the relative efficacy of that training, and of the con- sequent image we build of those concerned, is of at least some interest. Yet despite the enormous difficulties involved, the acceptance of at least potential similarity and its implications for relative accuracy will be assumed. As we will see below, it is precisely the idea of a 56 replication or approximation of the experience of the other which specifically characterizes the common language view of empathy, setting it apart from sympathy, mimicry, and various other similar concepts. In this dissertation, I will make use of many of the terms and phrases deployed by others, includ- ing D'Arms correspondence (2000, 1481), Hoffman's congruence (2000, 30), and terms arising from mu- sical and physical metaphors, such as resonance and touch. J3J3J3J3J3J3J3 Empathy interacts with an entire constellation of other related terms. The attempts below toward a useful definition amount to interrogating the various more-technical definitions of empathy and its re- lated terms relative to the common language uses of these terms. S Y M P A T H Y As already noted, sympathy predated empathy conceptually, and remains its closest cognate. By the time we've separated the two, we'll have done most of the heavy lifting in our definitional task. It is an understatement to suggest that, "The lack of consistency in the usage of the terms empathy and sympathy has given rise to considerable confusion" (Eisenberg and Strayer 1987, 5). Take for exam- ple, these three summary definitions: In empathy / act "as if" I were the other person. In sympathy I am the other person. (Wispe 1986, 318) In our view, empathy involves... "feeling with" another .... Sympathy is "feeling for" someone .... (Eisenberg and Strayer 1987, 5, 6) In sympathy I feel with; in empathy I feel in (Gauss 1973, 87) Graciously enough, Gauss further enlightens us common language users that, "Popular thought often does not respect the difference, using empathy where sympathy is meant" (1973, 87). Counter to Gauss, I would assert that the popular approach is pulling sympathy and empathy apart into separate, if overlap- ping fields, and along with Eisenberg and Strayer, I would assert that, "In reality, there is no correct defi- nition of empathy, just different definitions" (1987, 4), and lean with them in the sympathy-as-feeling-for and empathy-as-feeling-with direction. 57 In her attempt to establish both empathy and sympathy as "tactile encounters," Edith Wyschogrod evolves a definition that touches on most important aspects of sympathy and empathy: I take empathy to be the feeling-act through which a self grasps the affective act of another through an affective act of its own . . . . However, even if the other's affect is occasioned by some object, my empathy does not depend upon knowledge of the object although such knowledge may increase or diminish the intensity of empathized affect. For example; I may empathize with X's pain when I observe his distorted face but the intensity of my response is less when I know that he only has a toothache rather than Bell's palsy. Sympathy is a feeling-act in which 1+ xn others af- fectively apprehend a common object while, at the same time, we experience one another as im- mersed in similar feeling-acts occasioned by mutual participation in the common object. The feel- ing act is generally one of sorrow or some other troubling emotion, although it may shade off into a more diffuse affect, a sense of shared value, etc. Thus I am in sympathy with my sister over the loss of our father but I can also be in sympathy with members of my religious community in re- gard to our shared belief in a transcendent being . . . . Both empathy and sympathy may generate action or find their terminus in feeling alone. (Wyschogrod 1981,27-9) Sympathy is about the model's misfortune Wyschogrod adopts her particular definition in an attempt to cover two rather different ideas un- der the one description of sympathy. The first has to do with sense that we agree with someone, that we are "in sympathy with them." Webster's online definition similarly includes: 1 a : an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other b : mutual or parallel susceptibility or a condition brought about by it c : unity or harmony in action or effect 2 a : inclination to think or feel alike : emotional or intellectual accord b : feeling of loyalty : ten- dency to favour or support <republican sympathies> 3 a : the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another b : the feel- ing or mental state brought about by such sensitivity <have sympathy for the poor> (Online) However, a second broad sense of "feeling sympathy for someone" has gained wide popular us- age. This usage is closer to feeling sorry for someone, or having pity upon them. The difference between these two senses of sympathy is significant enough to make it useful to describe them as related but dif- ferent types of affect which happen to pass under the same name. In this dissertation we will adopt sym- pathy of the second type only, and can therefore assume that it always involves the model's misfortune. Empathy also is often assumed to encompass only the distress of the model. Hoffman (2000), for example, assumes only this sort of empathy throughout his exploration of empathy and moral develop- ment, as do Batson et al (Batson, Fultz, and Schoenrade 1987a, 1987b) in looking at the differences be- tween empathy and personal distress. In both these cases the authors are primarily interested in effects 58 which only entail responses to others' distress, though their formulations of empathy do not rule out the idea of a beholder's empathy with a model's more-positive situation. Lauren Wispe, in a much cited article, explicitly broadens the definition: "Empathy ... refers to the attempt by one self-aware self to comprehend unjudgmentally the positive and negative experiences of another self (Wispe 1986, 318). This description allows empathy to encompass points 1 and 3 from the Merriam-Webster definition of sympathy. I maintain this approach comes closer to approximating popu- lar usages of sympathy, at least in phrases such as "I had sympathy for her," or "I sympathized with him." The phrase, "I was in sympathy with her," is growing rarer, except when a shared object is mentioned: "I was in sympathy with his views about the situation." Sympathy, then, in this dissertation, will always entail a situation or state of the model which is beheld as distressing by the beholder, while empathy can encompass either good or bad perceived situa- tions for the model. This choice best represents both a general consensus in technical usage and the ways in which common usage is pulling apart the semantic fields of these relative terms. Sympathy entails feeling sorry for the model The above distinction works well to separate specific types of affective responses. Hoffman, for example, gives no explicit definition of sympathy per se, but distinguishes between empathetic distress ("a more or less exact replication of the victim's actual or presumed feeling of distress") and sympathetic distress (the "[observer's desire] to help because they feel sorry for the victim") (Hoffman 2000, 87-8). Wispe simi- larly finds that, "Sympathy refers to the heightened awareness of the suffering of another person as some- thing to be alleviated. There are two aspects to this definition of sympathy... heightened sensitivity to the emotions of the other person... [and] the urge to take whatever mitigating actions are necessary... " (Wispe 1986, 318). There are two inter-related aspects of this approach. Temporally, in the order of ex- perience, the first entails feeling sorry for the model, the second, and a desire to help. We'll accept feeling sorry as by definition essential to sympathy. Vreeke and van der Mark spe- cifically contrast this to empathy: "Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone. Empathy is when you are feeling what they are feeling" (Vreeke and van der Mark 2003, 187). Clearly, empathy with a 59 model's positive state ought not of necessity lead to feeling sorry for the model. Under our definition, empathy with a negative state will also not necessarily lead to feeling sorry, though it may. Hoffman's definition distinguishes these two states developmentally even in the case of resonance with another's difficulties, where empathy precedes sympathy with its prosocial desires. This distinction narrows both definitions, and allows empathy to function separately of its potential outcomes at the level of desire, in- cluding the desire to help. Sympathy involves the beholder's desire that the case were otherwise for the model D'Arms defines sympathy in, "a more restrictive sense as the name for the kind of sentiment that re- sponds to perceived harms or threats to another person with concern for that person, and involves some degree of motivation to aid the person." Thus sympathy is like pity, but without the usual "connotations of condescension" (D'Arms 2000, 1477-8). Outright altruism need not be entailed for either empathy or sympathy, though we can take it that sympathy entails, on the part of the beholder, at least some level of prosocial desire that the situation were otherwise for the model, even if Hoffman's actual "desire to help" is not fully present. Again, empathy distinguishes itself in several important ways. Clearly, if we are reasonably emotionally healthy, and someone we love has come into good for- tune, and we empathise with them, we don't wish their situation to change. However, it is also perfectly possible, as we have so far defined empathy, that we could resonate with a competitor's good fortune, and feel, not pleased, but envious, not least because we can empathically grasp what that good fortune feels like. Indeed, empathy, as a capacity for resonance, need not entail any particular response or desire, so we could feel both pleased and envious at the same time, because the resonance and our subsequent desires are temporally subsequent and definitionally separate. This approach runs counter to Stewart, whose definition in A Preface to Empathy links empathy to ethics via goodwill: Have I rejoiced with and for my neighbour in virtue or pleasure? Grieved with [her] in pain, for him in sin? Have I received his infirmities with pity, not anger? Have I thought or spoke unkindly of or to [her]? Have I revealed any evil of anyone, unless it was necessary to some particular good I had in view? Have I then done it with all the tenderness of phrase and manner consistent with that end? Have I anyway appeared to approve them that did otherwise? Has goodwill been, and appeared to be, the spring of all my actions toward others? 60 [Empathy] is felt to be ethical because it is grounded in feeling, presupposes goodwill, and strives for mutual understanding. It is seen as a sound psychological concept, because the process it stands for produces our most authentic and genuine personal experiences. It is aesthetic in its creative and selective activities. (Stewart 1956, 12) Stewart further defines goodwill's effects: "To... ward off the dangers of fear and of hate, because they block knowledge, is to be well disposed towards you" (1956, 8). And he makes explicit the idea that where goodwill is absent, there is no empathy (Stewart 1956, 143 ff.). This fundamental presupposition of goodwill represents a general tendency in the literature. De- spite recognising empathy as an intuitive emotion and therefore potentially influencing even perception, and therefore any judgment, Arne Vetlesen, for example, takes empathy as by definition exclusive of ha- tred (1994, 221). Marcus notes, "The general theoretical expectation is that empathy will be positively related to prosocial and negatively related to antisocial behaviour. There are, however, research findings to the contrary." He suggests that, "theoretical and methodological advances are needed" (1987, 377). I'd suggest beginning these advances with a greater definitional clarity—the confusion may in part arise precisely due to the equation of empathy with definitionally necessary positive predispositions and behav- iours. Blair (2003) by contrast points out that on I F r o m w n e n c e is it that the knave is generally so quick-sighted to those symptoms and operations of knavery, which often dupe any number of measures the ability to represent a n n o n e s t m a n o f a m u c n b e t t e r understanding? There surely J is no general sympathy among knaves; nor have they, like freemasons, any common sign of communication. In reality, it Others' States of mind ("theory of mind"—one is only because they have the same thing in their heads, and their thoughts are turned the same way. (Fielding 1749/1992, 154) aspect of empathy) appears to vary independently 1 1 relative to a propensity for antisocial behaviour, "defined as any action that impinges on the rights and welfare of others" (146). Thus, those .with psychopathic tendencies can, "even use their theory of mind to achieve their antisocial goals, particularly in fraud or con cases" (157). I will confess that at least some of my problem with the tendency to link empathy and prosocial affects and behaviours lies at the level of world-view. Whatever word I use for so fundamental a human propensity needs to allow for the possibility that fundamental human propensities can and in fact always do incline toward either good or evil outcomes, individually or corporately. However, such a distinction also yields gains in clarity and function for the concept of empathy as we wish to employ it. 61 Hence, I prefer to say that in empathy, we are describing a closely related complex of fundamen- tal traits and resultant states, which may have any number of affective and behavioural outcomes: positive and negative, pro- and anti-social. Sympathetic empathy Lipps, too, distinguishes affective outcomes, granting for the same or similar stimuli the possibili- ties of "positive" or "negative" empathy in response. Positive empathy may be called "sympathetic em- pathy," while negative empathy is experienced as "hostile" to me. But this experience "too is empathy," and indeed its intensity depends upon the fact that this activity is like my own, is "somehow imputed to me." Lipps is describing our reaction to, for example, a mocking face. However, our reactions to be- holding trauma also fit within this schema. Lipps explicitly points out the similar mechanisms for the two types of empathy and also points out that his positive empathy can be called sympathy, thereby muddying the distinction between them (Lipps 1905/1965, 408-410). It makes sense, once again, rather than retain- ing the tight connection implied by labelling both as empathy, to separate the initial empathy from its out- comes. The question of a shared object Wyschogrod's definition (above) raises the question of a shared object for sympathy. If we are not attempting to encompass "being in sympathy" with someone, then her "1 + xn" calculation is not es- sential. The question still remains whether sympathy and empathy differ with respect to the beholder's and model's responses to a perceived object. This question points to the different routes by which we can enter either sympathy or empathy. If either can be induced by beholding the model's affect or by know- ing something about their situation, then this question only applies to the second route. This is the sort of empathy we develop in response to texts, and hence is critical to the latter parts of this dissertation. In general, knowing the object of the model's affect has a different impact upon empathy and sympathy. If we adopt Rogers and Wispe's approaches to this type of conscious empathy, then the goal is the tuning of our empathy to the model's affect. Contrary to Wyschogrod, then, knowing the object or 62 cause of the model's distress would neither increase nor decrease the impact, but rather form another as- pect of unjudgmental comprehension. Common usage of sympathy, by contrast, does reflect the impact of knowing the object. Thus we might.say, "I know he is really upset about his bad haircut, and I have some sympathy for him, but .... " Another way to say this would be that the beholder sympathizes, but cannot or will not empathize, with the model about the object of their distress. This failure to empathize then delimits the level of sympathy. Sympathy is not dependent on knowing what the model is feeling Another difference between empathy and sympathy arises at the level of affect. If sympathy involves feelings of sorrow and a wish that things were otherwise for the model, then I can feel sympathy for my schizophrenic neighbour, even when he is delighted at his good luck in seeing not one, but two, Hitlers at the mall today. Empathy on the other hand entails in some way grasping or comprehending his happi- ness. Clearly, however, these states of sympathy and empathy can coexist, and an empathic grasp of his exaltation might lead to some understanding sympathy about his unwillingness to take the medications which make him more stable. There is a sense in which sympathy is a more conscious affect than empathy. Sympathy must have an appropriate object of some kind—in the case above, some way of knowing, direct or indirect, that the affect of the model, and his larger state are, in the opinion of the beholder, not identical. Sympathy's object may be only the facial or bodily expression of grief, or it may be knowledge about the model's state. Thus sympathy again does not entail being in a similar empathic state, but rather having an under- standing of the other's state. By contrast, in the case just above, the beholder might empathically sense and in some way experience the model's affect of exhilaration, but without knowing its causes or object, might well rejoice with the model. One can also feel empathy toward someone who has not labelled their own emotion. As Wispe points out, "These emotions and reactions are often unclearly understood by the other person... so one important aspect of this process is empathic accuracy" (Wispe 1986, 318). By Rogers' definition, too, 63 one's empathy, to be empathy, must to some extent striving toward accuracy. The beholder's empathy can then lead to therapeutic recognitions for the model. Twenty years ago, Lauren Wispe titled an article "The distinction between sympathy and empa- thy: To call forth a concept a word is needed" (1986). Despite the sometimes contradictory trends in technical literature, the article maintains that empathy and sympathy can be distinguished with respect to their historical roots, research paradigms, and relevant theorizing. Technical discussions of empathy, since then have become more elaborate, cautious, and sophisticated, and the term in common usage has also travelled some distance from its origins. On the whole, there is an inclination in the literature to- wards what Vreeke and van der Mark summarize as, "Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone. Empathy is when you are feeling what they are feeling" (2003, 187). This distinction, which may arise more from popular language than otherwise, seems to be not just calling forth the concept of empathy, but to be pulling the two terms into separate if overlapping but orbits. Uses of sympathy, in particular, can lie still in a sort of middle ground, implying a level of understanding, for example of my neighbour, without thereby entailing empathy in its fullest sort of sense. Empathy as "feeling with" the model and sympathy as "feeling for" the model, provide a distinc- tion close enough to much popular usage and adequate to our task, so long as we hold in mind the nu- ances above, and especially the impossibility of one person fully feeling what another is feeling. None- theless, I intend to hold on to at least some meaning for the ideas of similarities of states between people, so my stance perhaps approaches that of Julie Salverson when she summarizes Levinas's "absolute alter- ity": "In other words, whatever I think I understand, there remains something beyond my ability to know, to sense, to imagine, something that will surprise me and which comes from outside myself. It is my ethical obligation to remain vigilant, ready to receive that something and to put myself at its service" (2001, 3). O T H E R S I M I L A R C O N C E P T S There exists a tendency to link empathy not just to pro-social affects, but to outright altruistic behaviour (Batson, Fultz, and Schoenrade 1987b, 21-22). Certainly, there are some intriguing connections between 64 the two. True other-focussed empathy, for example leads to action-focussed altruistic motivation, even when no one else knows or will know about the beholder's altruistic behaviour (Fultz et al. 1986, 763). While empathy can lead to altruism, however, merging the two, or only focussing on the positive aspects of empathy, leaves us with an unlabelled residue of experiences where feeling empathy leads to negative or off-putting emotions, or where a person is very astute at reading other's states, but misuses these skills. Empathy must be distinguished from per- sonal distress, as well. Batson, who has researched this distinction extensively, however, aligns For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:... Rejoice with those who re- joice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:4-5, 21 RSV) personal distress and empathy as competing states, and then assesses their outcomes in terms of altruism (Batson, Fultz, and Schoenrade 1987b, 1987a; Batson and Shaw 1991). Empathy thus entails positive or pro-social states. Hoffman instead discusses the fact that empathy in its early forms leads to personal em- pathic distress, and only later to sympathetic distress and altruistic feelings. Once beholders have reached that stage, "They continue to respond in a partly egoistic manner—to feel uncomfortable and highly dis- tressed themselves—but they also experience a feeling of compassion or what I call sympathetic distress for the victim, along with a conscious desire to help" (2000, 87-88). To maintain this sort of developmen- tal clarity, a better approach is ours, which frees empathy from its affective outcomes, one that treats em- pathy itself as "in its essence, neither an egoistic nor other-oriented response" (Eisenberg and Strayer 1987, 7). Emotional contagion is "an involuntary 'catching' of another's emotions, induced somehow by the model's expressive behaviour (D'Arms 2000, 1483), which seems to lead to babies in nurseries all crying at the same time, or to the instantaneous nature of some mob violence. As such, it is best treated under our schema as a category of rudimentary empathy. Mimicry, role-taking, and perspective taking, while each related to empathy, can all be distin- guished from empathy by their lack of emphasis on affective resonance. Gauss suggests that the "good actor, knowing that one does not project an emotional state to an audience merely by imitating the actions of one in that state, 'lives' his part, directly experiencing states of feeling" (1973, 87). However, even if 65 empathy can enhance role taking, they are not identical, and one can mimic or adopt a role without neces- sarily assuming or approximating the affect of the model. Perspective taking is closer to empathy, than mimicry or role-taking but, "I can see her perspective," suggests a more cognitive, fact-oriented approach, than "I empathize with her." When conceptually separated from each other, empathy and perspective- taking demonstrate interesting interactions. For example, perspective taking leads to greater empathy, but not to greater personal distress (Batson, Fultz, and Schoenrade 1987a, 172-3). Identification and projection are closer still to empathy, and aspects of empathy certainly can lead to either. Indeed, as already described, the loss of the as i/condition during empathy can lead the be- holder to identify with the model, and this might serve as a definition for identification: the belief that the beholder has become, or almost become, the model. Vetlesen would suggest that the "essence of empathy lies in one subject's retaining rather than abandoning his or her own standpoint and identity" (Vetlesen 1994, 204). Rather than define identity as a different form of empathy, or even as states which are mutu- ally exclusive, they are better held as separate states, wherein the one, empathy, can lead to the other, identification. Projection, too, used in the sense of Vischer's projection of oneself into an object, is better seen as a result, rather than empathy itself. There is related common usage of projection, however, which is almost the opposite of the common usage of empathy, namely that of Benedick on being called "a very dull fool" whose "gift is in devising impossible slanders": "It is the base (though bitter) disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person and so gives me out." (Much Ado About Nothing 2, 1) the beholder projecting an internal state onto the model, and then reading it back as the model's own. This sort of projection and true empathy in response to someone else's state are often intermixed in one and the same interchange. In both common and psychological usage, these terms overlap to such an ex- tent that in certain circumstances, empathy, identification, and projection are used interchangeably. Metaphoric Definitions 66 The fundamentally fluid and metaphorical nature of language makes such overlap inevitable. Empathy, like any complex term, has attracted to itself certain more-overt metaphors, especially those of mirrors and resonance. In addition, one theorist has proposed struc- I would like to hear your life as you heard it, coming at you, instead of hearing it as I do, a sober sound of ex- pectations reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred or abandoned, chances lost, defeats accepted, griefs borne... .1 would like to hear it as it sounded while it was passing. (Angle of Repose, Stegner 1992, 25) tural affinities between empathy and touch. TOUCH Philosopher Edith Wyschogrod's discussion of empathy never mentions metaphor, but is instead a com- plex philosophical discourse asserting that, "Since touch is the paradigmatic sense for bringing what is felt into proximity with feeling, structural affinities between touch and [empathy and sympathy] can be shown" (Wyschogrod 1981, 21). Nonetheless, I read her work as an attempt to bring the ways we use empathy and the ways we use touch into alignment with one another—a metaphorical approach to the language of touch and empathy—and her thoughts about proximity, vulnerability, and the nature of touch can be mentioned in our context without undue violence to her train of thought. Wyschogrod's differen- tiation between empathy and sympathy has been discussed above. Her points regarding touch apply to both equally, and as mentioned above, my view of empathy essentially combines her empathy and sympa- thy, so I'll discuss only empathy below. Wyschogrod points out that visual objects and auditory sensations are both apprehended as occur- ring at a distance from their objects or sources, while touch implies not only proximity but contact. In general, "In intersubjective encounter [touch] is involved in caress and sexual arousal, as well as in ag- gression, slapping, punching etc" (Wyschogrod 1981, 39). While it is true that in certain contexts, such as a doctor's examination of a patient, "tactility is deployed in the manner of seeing rather than the con- verse," even in these acts, touch still necessitates the drawing near, the contact, "the proximity of feeling to what is felt" (Wyschogrod 1981, 41, 42 (note)). Our language around empathic encounter reflects a sense of proximity when we "feel" for or with another, when we are "touched" by another's situation (Wyschogrod 1981,41). 67 I'd agree with Wyschogrod that proximity certainly does seem of the metaphorical essence of empathy. In the intimate encounter with another and in our apprehension of their state, however acquired, we do indeed seem to draw near to them. The distance between us, emotional, psychic, seems to dimin- ish. Of course this experience can go further, towards Vischer's sense that empathy involves actual pro- jection into the object of our empathy. In response, Roger's might well embrace Wyschogrod's choice of metaphor, since touch implies not only contact, but also the limits of the self. Wyschogrod points out this limitation, noting, after Stein, that "The body is that which, though always obstinately 'here,' places what is other than itself always, and with equal obstinacy, 'there' (Wyschogrod 1981, 38). We might go farther with this metaphor, and suggest that the kinds of touch, such as surgery, which move beyond the surface, which fail thereby to observe Roger's as if, are all, even if well intentioned, invasive, and do necessary violence. Examples of this invasive type of empathy are not hard to find, with a paradigmatic case being a parent using her superior empathic skill to invade and attempt to control the inner life of her child, in an exploitation of her child's vulnerability. Yet this vulnerability cannot be altogether avoided for it is another key aspect of the tactility of empathy. A failure to accommodate vulnerability is, for Wyschogrod, the key problem with Nietzsche's ressentiment approach to pity. His approach, too has its roots in a particular sense, in the "clinging to visual consciousness" which is the hallmark of Nietzsche's vitalism (Wyschogrod 1981, 29-30). While Neitzsche embraces death itself, he otherwise cordons off "phenomena of vulnerability—sensitivity to temperature, fatigue, exhaustion, sleep," treating them not as aspects of the body, but "metaphysically in the manner of non-being." On this account, vulnerability, whether of the body, or of empathy, is an as- pect not of life, but of non-being, or perhaps of "decaying life" (Wyschogrod 1981, 30-31). In contrast, "since empathy and sympathy are phenomena of proximity, they can only be understood as feeling-acts of a tactile rather than a visual subject" (Wyschogrod 1981, 32). If people would but leave children to themselves; if teachers would cease to bully them; if parents would not insist upon directing their thoughts, and dominating their feelings—those feelings and thought which are a mys- tery to all (... and how far more beautiful and sacred are the thoughts of the poor lad or girl whom you govern likely to be, than those of the dull and world-corrupted person who rules him?) —... small harm would ac- crue... (Thackeray 1848/1968, 79). 68 The vulnerability Wyschogrod notes is indeed more like that of touch; empathy implies that we can be genuinely affected, saddened, grieved, "touched" by those with whom we empathise. I would go further and point out that we make ourselves vulnerable in other touch-like ways. When I am empathis- ing with another, I am "reaching out" to the other "with my guard down." If the other chooses at that point to "lash out," I can easily be very hurt. When this happens, it feels like nothing so much as "being punched in the stomach." Indeed, we are in precisely this way more vulnerable in empathy than in sym- pathy, which may help lead to the tendency of sympathy to shade into a species of condescending pity. In these visions of proximity and vulnerability, it would be easy to focus on touch as a function, a sense, especially of the hand, reaching out, touching, caressing, punching. Wyschogrod's sense, however, is not touch narrowly conceived, but rather the idea of touch as a function of the entire body. She wins through to this point after a complicated engagement with various philosophies of the senses, including those of Aristotle, Berkeley, and Condillac. She points out that most theories attempt to interpret touch along the lines of the other senses. These various theories typically begin with and therefore theoretically embody the distance inherent in senses such as hearing and sight. They must then particularize and make exceptions for touch within their schema. Further, within these theories, "each sense is a pathway provid- ing information about the world which is then subsequently synthesized" (Wyschogrod 1981, 38). Both approaches generate serious inconsistencies which Wyschogrod suggests we can read "... as 'breaks' or 'ruptures' within an interpretive scheme... which uncover the unique spatio-temporal struc- ture of the haptic field from which empathy and sympathy emerge" (Wyschogrod 1981, 32). For the body as a whole is a potential haptic field . . . . While all sensing depends upon the kinaes- thesis, [the] universal element of sensing is always apprehensible to touch since touch is not only cutaneous receptivity of heat and cold, pressure, surface quality, etc., but is inseparable from kin- aesthesis as such .... If we are right, if the primordial manner of being of the lived body is to be understood as tactile, then tactility cannot be included under a generic theory of sense but provides its ground. Thus the manner in which touch yields the world is the most primordial manner of our apprehension of it. (Wyschogrod 1981,39) Rather than accommodating tactility within a schema based on other senses, she has inverted the attempt and made touch the ground for all sensation, including even kinaesthesis, the sense of movement. This vision of touch underlies her linking of empathy to tactility. Wyschogrod herself seems to come 69 close to suggesting not only the "structural alignment" of terms, but rather the actual grounding of the experience of empathy in the experience of tactility: "This is not to suggest that empathy and sympathy are conscious imitations of tactile encounter, but that tactile encounter when lived at a pre-reflective level, is vulnerability to the other" (Wyschogrod 1981, 41). And while she does not elaborate in this way, this sort of touch clearly provides for a fuller vision of empathy as the engagement of our entire being. If so, it seems that the whole-person sort of empathy which we often experience tends toward Wyschogrod's encompassing view of touch, yet the ways in which touch retains and even reinforces our limits sounds like Rogers' as if sort of empathy. When we lose our "sense of distance" and seem to al- most become one with the other person, we have crossed out of as if empathy into a fusion for which touch is not the best metaphor. And empathy which is being wielded clinically, by say a con man, can be described in terms of touch used I'd love to gain complete control of you Handle even the heart and soul of you ("All of You", Porter 1995) more like sight. Wyschogrod locates the tendency to ascribe closer relationships between empathy and other senses, especially sight and hearing, to the confused history of the philosophies of the senses mentioned above. While there may be something to this, I would also suggest that we most often, and most in- tensely, apprehend the person with whom we are empathising through sight and hearing. It is therefore quite natural to construct metaphors such as those of mirrors and music which involve these senses, even if, at the cognitive level, this may seem like a confusion between metaphorical aptness and sensory me- dium. Wyschogrod's innovation is to overcome the ease of connection to these more obvious, and often more dominant, senses, in proposing touch instead. While she doesn't precisely summarize in this way, by the time she is done, Wyschogrod's vision of empathy links it to a sense which is not only that of our fingertips, or even of our entire skin surface, but of our limits, location, and movement. In empathy, for her especially, we indeed be-hold the model. I'd like to perform a little cognitive metaphorical shift of my own here, and suggest that Wyschogrod's whole-body version of touch as the ground for other sensations fits well with the views of empathy we take up in the next section of this theses, wherein the other person's body is seen to activate the parts of 70 our brain associated with our own body. As we'll see, this intimate whole-body mapping of one body within another is treated as the root of all empathy. Her discussions of proximity and distance also point toward the recurring concept of space in re- lationships, of being in an affective or relational sense closer to someone or farther from them, of experi- encing a moment of closeness or distance. Echoes of this locational sense occur in the discussions of em- pathy as far back as Lipps, where the empathic object of enjoyment stands "opposite me" and where the "ground" of the enjoyment occupies a "middle position between the object of aesthetic enjoyment and the enjoyment itself (1903/1979, 371). The many points at which Vischer, Lipps, and others discuss the "loss of self in empathy, can also play in two quite different ways: as if we are a collocation which can in some way be divided and thereby lose a piece called the self, or as if we are in some way a self which can become lost, losing its bearings in inter-relational space when we forget the as if. Within this metaphori- cal descriptive framework, we can also meaningfully discuss, as one of my committee members does, the inter-spatial relationship between beholder and model. Or we can construct the space between them as the active and changeable location of relationship and communication. M I R R O R S For Lacan, the mirror stage is "a particular case of the func- tion of the imago, which is to establish a relationship between the organism and its reality" (1977, 4). At the onset of the mirror stage, at about six months, the infant has a conflict be- tween the image of itself as whole, and the experience of itself as a "fragmented body," which leads to an alienation which changes its nature as we age, but is never resolved. discover the image of ourselves which we are projecting forth. A mirror features prominently in Case Study I below, and its use invokes all the meanings explored above. The image of a mirror manages to encompass, in the shorthand of good metaphor, complexities which otherwise require significant explana- tion. The metaphor of the mirror embodies a way of conceptualizing the discomfort that results from assuming that the beholder simply replicates the affective experience of the model. Vischer's aesthetics of empathy, for example portrays the role of empathy in the creation of art. The artist, living the highest level of empathy, releases himself empathically to "the pleasure of pure observation." He thereby yields Mirrors and reflections appear routinely in the litera- ture around empathy. They often serve to empha- size the way in which in empathy we at least in part 71 himself to a process in which art becomes "as much purely subjective as it is purely objective." The artist is not consciously aware of this process. Indeed, "it is truly the essence of artistic ideality not to be con- ceptually aware of itself but to mirror itself in an individual object" which is the artistic result (1873/1993, 116-17). Gauss similarly cites Plato, "who says of the beloved that 'his lover is the mirror in whom he is beholding himself, but he is not aware of it'" (1973, 87). Rogers' experience with the imagery is not just complex but traumatizing. In attempting to phrase the process of therapeutic empathy, he heeded a social worker's suggestion that "the best response was to 'reflect' these feelings back to the client." But "'reflect' [became] in time a word which made me cringe" (Rogers 1975, 2), because this phrasing facilitated the extreme oversimplification of his views, which in turn led him to avoid writing about empathy. Further, as he researched empathy, he discovered that, "listening to feelings and 'reflecting' them was a vastly complex process" (Rogers 1975, 3). He might well have preferred Stewart's complex portrayal of this process of reflection: Personal knowing is a process which involves two or more persons. I see myself in you and thus learn better to know myself, for you have provided perspective and object in which I can mirror many of my traits, but also I note where my likeness to you fades, and something foreign presents itself. The foreign element sharpens the outline both of my identity and of yours. (Stewart 1956, 7) This more intricate formulation moves beyond the mere reflected replication of the beholder's image to- ward the idea that the model as mirror influences my own perception of myself. The sharpening of out- lines which results rings of both Roger's as if and of Wyschogrod's recognitions about touch and empa- thy (above). A final repeated use of mirror bears mention here. When the part of the brain which now appears central to our replication of others' physical experience—a capacity considered rudimentary to empa- thy—was discovered, the crucial neurons were labelled "mirror neurons." These neurons fire when a lover beholds the one she loves receiving an uncomfortable burning sensation applied to his arm. They facilitate the process whereby the arm section of her own brain lights up, albeit without lighting up the area which would generate genuine pain (Singer et al. 2004). The mirror metaphor here acquires a new 72 depth as the image is of one lover beholding another; the mirror is within the beholder's mind and the im- age is of the lover. M U S I C A L R E S O N A N C E The uses of musical resonance reinforce certain ideas around empathy which seem misconstrued. Gauss, for example, suggests that, "In popular usage the idea refers to the emotional resonance between two peo- ple, when, like strings tuned to the same frequency, each responds in perfect sympathy to the other and each reinforces the responses of the other" (Gauss 1973, 85). I believe this is overstating what most common language users would assert about empathy. Nevertheless, the metaphor does seems to catch something of what we feel when we experience empathy, a thrumming resonance indeed. When my friend Norah's piano was being tuned one day, we noticed that her lute's strings resonated even when the note on the piano was well below any the lute was capable of. Within the musical universe, this better metaphor is that of overtones and undertones, by which an instrument incapable of replicating a particular frequency (pitch), can nevertheless, resonate with pitches sharing certain harmonic structures. Interestingly, when I have asked several Chinese speakers about empathy, I have received two quite different translations. The first consists of the two characters which in Chinese mean not the replication of pitch, but harmonic reso- nance. Harmonic resonance, unlike pitch replication, suggests appropriate differentiation between the two instruments, between model and beholder, while retaining a sense that some accuracy is required. This Chinese translation aligns with the forms of empathy which arise intuitively or non-cognitively. T H E R E A S O N I N G H E A R T The second Chinese translation consists of three characters: same or one, reason, and heart. In Chinese when one empathises, one's heart reasons [Adam] had too little fellow-feeling with the weakness that errs in spite of foreseen consequences... . And there is but one way in which a strong determined soul can learn it—by getting his heart-strings bound round the weak and erring, so that he must share not only the outward consequence of their error, but their inward suffering. (Eliot 1961) the same as another's. Reason here is the same character used for intellectual reasoning. When I asked a 73 Cantonese first-language acquaintance about heart, I was told that the Chinese metaphorical heart is not as feeling-oriented as ours, yet this usage still implies emotion or feeling, not just mentation. When, without mentioning the word empathy, I sought help from Chinese friends about these characters, I received this email: O r i g i n a l Message Sent: F e b r u a r y 18, 2004 9:52 PM To: Karen Cooper S u b j e c t : Re: c h a r a c t e r s H i , I am Nianhua Feng, the p r o n u n c i a t i o n of your c h a r a c t e r s i s tong l i x i n , and the meaning i s u s i n g your h e a r t t o u n d e r s t a n d o t h e r p e o p l e ' s . Sometimes, the c o n f l i c t s among the p e o p l e a r e caused by m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g , o r your s t u b b o r n l y p e r s i s t i n g i n your own o p i n i o n s . I t i s a p i e c e of ad m o n i t i o n t h a t when you c o n t a c t w i t h o t h e r p e o p l e you s h o u l d image t h a t what would you do when an ac- c i d e n t happened w h i l e under the same s i t e , the same time and you were the p e r s o n concerned? In a l l , you s h o u l d c a r e about your p a r e n t s , your c h i l d r e n , your f r i e n d s even the s t r a n g e r s you meet from the t h e i r p e r s p e c t i v e s . You s h o u l d pay a t t e n t i o n t o what t h e y c a r e about! I am s o r r y I c a n ' t e x p l a i n i t i n a word, i f you are s t i l l i n t e r e s t e d i n i t , we can d i s c u s s i t next week. Best wishes! S i n c e r e l y Nianhua When I met with Nianhua the following week, I told him there was a word, since allowing for Nianhua's recent arrival here in Canada and consequent difficulties with English, this translation seems very close to the more conscious analogical forms of empathy we've used, where efforts toward understanding an- other's situation can lead to empathy for them, and suggests that not only in English but at least across this one other culture there is a phenomenon worthy of particular label, whose implications ring very like those of empathy in our own. M y A p p r o a c h Rather than summarize or re-list these conclusions, I'll follow the example of Rogers (1975), D'Arms (2000), and Wispe (1986), each of whom needed not sentences or paragraphs, but pages, to define empa- thy. That said, a few remaining points present themselves. Empathy, not least because it encompasses 74 experiences which range from the unconscious and un-willed to the deliberately analogical, can appear too diffuse a term to be useful. But as we've seen above, certain aspects link the various manifestations. One such aspect is the focus on some alignment, resonance, or relative accuracy in the inter- change between beholder and model. But what if the beholder is completely wrong? Since the essence of empathy is the beholder's sense of or desire for resonance, and since absolute accuracy is impossible, it works well to describe empathy as on a continuum, from wholly mistaken, to relatively accurate. If so we shouldn't look for a new label, but, like D'Arms, treat mistaken empathy as empathy nonetheless (2000, 1480-1). Freeing empathy from necessary affective and behavioural outcomes allows us to focus upon core aspects of empathy which remain remarkably consistent throughout various descriptions. Empathy then becomes a complex "knife edge" state which can lead to various affective, motivational and active out- comes. At this edge between empathy and its outcomes, the ethical questions which interest me in this dissertation gain their purchase. These two moves also allow us to encompass both the affective and cognitive sides of empathy. As Hakansson summarizes, "Although some researchers have historically emphasized affect and others cognition, the term empathy has always conveyed the idea of knowing about the awareness of another, a capacity by which one person obtains knowledge of the subjective side of another person" (2003, 2). We can thereby also align a spectrum of related experiences from infant physiological contagion through af- fective emotional empathy to Rogers' or Stewarts' adult, intimate, interactive, boundary respecting, "in their shoes" empathy. These aspects of empathy build upon one another, with the third, for which we of- ten commonly use the term, depending upon the first two. Finally, under the schema above we can discuss not just infant and adult empathy, but im- "I was thinking about you guys yesterday, 'cuz I been here three times before, and I think I understand a little bit about how you feel about some things. It's none of my business how you feel about some other things, and I don't give a damn about how you feel about some other things. But anyway, I tried to put myself in your place, and I believe this is the way that I would feel about San Quentin." (Cash 1969) mature and mature forms and applications of em- pathy. If mature suggests applications more likely to be attained with age and practice, then mature uses of empathy distinguish themselves by the combina- tion of drawing near, even to the point of contact, without any breach of integument. And in this realm Stewart's approach above reminds us that a highly complex version of knowing and being known emerges. Such mature empathy "is indeed as much an art to be cultivated as it is the basis of inference" (Stewart 1956, 7), an activity bringing together a significant number of our abilities, engaging our intui- tion, our physiological capacity for mimicry, our memory, and moving us thereby into a position for con- scious inference and analogy. When viewed in this way, the tendency of empathy to split into cogni- tive/chosen and unconscious/unchosen aspects points toward a basic possibility—that it is neither the un- willed emotion nor the cognitive and highly structured choice of perspective, but rather precisely empa- thy's merging of both which marks it out. For our purposes, which involve adults and the ways empathy gets into and out of texts, this ap- proach is more than adequate. We can at least acknowledge that for the beholder, this sense of coming to know something of the model does indeed seem of the essence of their experience of empathy. We can move forward into the first section of this dissertation to explore other more interactive ways in which this idea becomes meaningful. CASE STUDY I: THESE WORDS OF LONG LOVE 77 These Words of Long Love: Four Poems A f t e r H e H a s G o n e I 've been remember ing the two o f them the summer I first began to k n o w them the aura o f their phys ica l love l ike a v i s ib le h u m as i f they had somehow shaped her body between them over a l l their years not just the s i lvery traces of their ch i ldren ' s long gestation threading d o w n her abdomen but even minute details the weight and angle o f her breasts and the altered way her bare arm swept her hand through the air, adding shape to her words when he was near. "I am f i f ty- two," she said today, gesturing downward , "Wha t w i l l this body be i n a few years?" A n d I cou ld see, as i f i n her mirror , that i n this moment she has become on ly the empty purse o f sk in be low her navel on ly the breasts that have begun to sag as i f her f o r m s t i l l he ld each o f the bodies she was wi th h i m on ly so long as he was near. Duane and A n n e H e says, " I cannot look into her eyes and this is hard, but harder for her than for me." Though his sight has gone, not hers, though she looks at h i m as she speaks, she says, " W e w i l l not see each other again ." A n d I can hear her not seeing h i m . She is b l i n d wi th his not seeing. She w o u l d be deaf w i th his not hearing. She can see h i m not seeing her as she speaks. B o b ' s J a n e y I It's been years since she opened it but l i ke any w o m a n she's a lways reaching reaching for her purse. She can ' t remember s ta lking the house for hours after l eav ing it behind at a party or i n the l ady ' s r o o m at church. B u t she does k n o w she's a lady, and though i t ' s l ong since she ceased to even say her ch i ldren ' s names, a lady carries a purse. II H e just can' t bel ieve she can ' t remember, so he tells her for at least the fifth t ime, " Y o u don ' t need that bag at the party tonight." A s long as she wants her purse, she might s t i l l be his Janey; i f on ly she might remember, she is , for h i m , s t i l l here. B i b l i c a l T r a n s l a t i o n Suddenly , after 26 years, your rapt face, i n pause a scant hands-breadth f rom m y o w n is for the first t ime a saint a script carved i n i vo ry its eyes c losed and a slight hieratic smi le the autumn afternoon l ight t ranslucing the bridge o f the nose, the tip o f an ear. In this moment before you enter me first the E n g l i s h "hover ing" then the Hebrew and the Greek "merachefet" "epephereto" float l i ke banners f rom left to right across the sky o f m y m i n d : hover ing of the riiach elohim (that al ien continuous tense) first breath o f G o d over the face o f the deep— and i n the scant moment before that spirit breathed (a ref lexive Aegean voice) into M a r y ' s w o m b the l ight that w o u l d remake the w o r l d . 81 A f t e r H e has G o n e Late on an afternoon in September I joined a friend in her kitchen for a cup of tea. Katherine was griev- ing intensely that day the loss of her marriage; after a number of difficult years, she and her husband had separated three months before. On this day she feared she might never be in a marriage, or perhaps even a long relationship, again. She knew she needed time, perhaps a lot of time, before embarking on any new connection. She was feeling old, and by then would then be even older. "The odds aren't good. I mean, I'm fifty-two. What will this body be in a few years?" As she spoke, she gestured, waving her own open right hand down her body, following the hand down with her gaze as she spoke. I experienced an immediate sense of her youth, gone, as if it had been carried away by her ex in his arms as he walked out of the house. The phrases she had just said singed themselves into my mind; I felt that I must remember them, and repeated them to myself internally, knowing that I would write about them. I considered reminding her that one of my sons had described her as, "The most beautiful woman I know," but his comment just didn't, at that moment, seem likely to really matter to either one of us. I stayed a little longer, then walked out to my car, dug around for a piece of paper, and before I had even left the driveway began frantically writing down the words which had been trying to boil over from the moment "years" had passed her lips. I had trouble with my pen, and had to find another just to make the words legible. Katherine is herself a fine poet; so I never worried that she would mind me writing the poem, or using her experience; I worried, instead, that it would cause her pain to read it. When I saw her a few days later, I told her that I had written the poem and that I would be happy to let her see it, but that she might find the content distressing. She was quite definite: for now, she didn't want to see it. A f t e r H e H a s G o n e I 've been remember ing the two o f them the summer I first began to k n o w them the aura o f their phys ica l love 82 l i ke a v i s ib le h u m as i f they had somehow shaped her body between them over a l l their years not just the s i lvery traces of their ch i ldren ' s l ong habitation threading d o w n her abdomen but even minute details the weight and angle o f her breasts . and the altered w ay her bare arm swept her hand through the air, adding shape to her words when he was near. "I am f i f ty- two," she said today, gesturing downward , "Wha t w i l l this body be i n a few years?" A n d I cou ld see, as i f in her mirror , that i n this moment she has become on ly the empty purse o f sk in be low her navel on ly the breasts that have begun to sag as i f her fo rm s t i l l held each o f the bodies she was wi th h i m only so l o n g as he was near. Meanwhile, I was working on all four of the poems, first by myself, and then with a few poets and my writers' group. Eventually I also read them to the members of my book club, none of whom were divorced, and all of whom were in long marriages. "After He Has Gone" provoked the greatest comment This book club, called by one son 'The Bitter Middle-Aged La- dies," has met for years to drink wine, bitch about our church, and read books with some kind of spiritual import. from the women, and the comments indicated a strong sense of identification. "That's exactly how it is!" said Holly. A few days prior to the "Poetry Cafe" Katherine decided she might like to come, since several of her friends were going to read. Again, I brought the poem to her house, where she asked me to read it aloud. This I did with great anxiety. While the day in question had clearly been a particularly low one for her, and while she clearly was on the whole doing well, I was terribly anxious that this poem would cause her pain. I was also experiencing my routine anxiety at showing my work to another poet whose work I respected, though in some incoherent way this reaction seemed contradictory or inappropriate to my concern for her. It was a vicious combination of fears and my heart rate doubled as I began to read. 83 My reading was anything but fluid, and at the end, there was a distinct pause. Then Katherine said, with great definition, "I don't identify with that at all. For one thing, I have no stretch marks!" There it was, the hard kernel of reality: she of the long, slim, and elegant frame had no stretch marks, whereas I, larger—but also the bearer of ten-pound-nine-ounce behemoths—had seersucker skin well above my navel. My internal reaction couldn't have been more mixed. I felt at one and the same time quite distressingly disappointed, and very relieved. Despite my consciousness of the as if, the proper di- vision between Katherine's experience and my apprehension of it, there had been such a strong sense of identity and empathy during the original conversation that for a moment I couldn't quite sense how I had "gotten it wrong." The stretch marks had been there from the very beginning, one of the strongest initial impressions. Within a fleeting moment more, I regained a sense of writerly reality, namely the recogni- tion that what I had written was an expression of how this situation might have felt to me. Also a sense that beyond the semantic content of her words, I had also apprehended in Katherine's countenance, in her voice, certain emotions, and that I had then constructed—both instantly and later in the poem—certain aspects of my responses such that they might have led me into the physical state I was apprehending as being Katherine's. In the end we discussed ways in which that day had been a single moment in her experience. At this point, reading the poem, it was only a memory, not how she was feeling at all this particular day. She remembered the statement which had sparked the poem, but even had it been possible for me somehow to replicate the moment perfectly, it was transient, beyond confirmation, for either one of us. We moved then to the naivete of believing that empathy could ever be a direct representation of someone else's reality, however immediate and congruent the emotions might seem as we responded to another person's situation. "No," she said thoughtfully, "It's not a replication; it's a resonance." About a year later, after writing a first draft of this chapter, and as I was editing it for the disserta- tion, I realized I had a number of questions about Katherine's reaction to the poem. My relational anxiety -^n t-^nc„ x3r .sT-^^r c c put ^%<Mmcri 84 and my conflicted emotions had prevented me from discovering whether she had identified with the poem at all. I asked her if she would speak with me about it. We got together, in my kitchen this time. It turned out that Katherine thought I wanted her to edit the poem, as she has so much of my work. When she heard what I wanted, she offered to give me "first a personal and then a critical answer." As happens in conversations, the neat division between the two fell apart almost instantly, and the criticism flowed naturally from the rest. Katherine remembered making the comment about the stretch marks, but wanted to know, "Did I really say this?" about the "What will this body be... " question. She didn't really doubt it, but rather could not remember at this length of time. She paused, and re-read the poem, and then said, "But it's true, you know. No one I sleep with now could know that body, the one that's gone." She likewise couldn't remember her state in detail from that day, but during the conversation mentioned the many ways she identified with the poem now. "I love this image of the shaping of our bodies; it's very evocative." Then she became a little teary: "It's cellular. On a cellular level, he holds my body in his skin, and I hold his. I can't remember how long it is before all of your cells change, but I bet that's how long it takes." I mentioned how physically affectionate they had been with one another. "Yes," she said, "whenever we were near each other, we were touching. In fact, it's taken me all this time to stop reaching out." "You mean literally... physically... reaching." "Yes, with my hand," she said, reaching her hand out as if to touch someone. "I've kept reaching out for him until very recently." Again re-reading, she made some suggestions about line breaks and punctuation, and pointed out the part about the "empty purse." "When you first wrote this, I didn't understand. But now I do. It's menopause. Just in the last year, it's happened. And it doesn't help to hold in my tummy. Not at all!" I offered her the chance to choose her own alias for this work, or even to use her own name, but she declined the latter offer. "Vanity," we both agreed, "Pure vanity," and laughed. So we talked, empa- thising about menopause: which parts of our bodies we can't seem to get over losing. I then mentioned, 85 with approval, several men we both knew were staying faithful to their aging menopausal wives. About the other men our age we knew who seemed to be chasing younger women, Katherine opined, "Maybe they can't help it. Maybe it's evolutionary: Once we can't breed, our bodies betray us." It was a wild image—on behalf of the species, my body signalling, whether I consciously want it to or not, that I can't have babies, to some man who, whether he consciously wants babies or not, is driven nonetheless to find a younger body with which to breed. Whether I believe it or not, whether it could ever be established sci- entifically or not, and regardless of any bitterness or envy, this statement, in its attempt to non- judgmentally understand, was in that conversation a final act of empathy. R O B E R T V I S C H E R , T H E O D O R L I P P S , K A R E N C O O P E R : A S H A R E D N A I V E T E ? I have already discussed certain aspects of Robert Vischer's and Theodor Lipps' work on empathy as relevant to questions of reading and definition for this dissertation. It is also worth applying certain other aspects of Vischer's and Lipps' specific uses of the term to this poem in some detail, both because the word empathy came into English from Vischer, via Lipps (via Titchener) and because the current under- standings of empathy still have much in common with their particular approach. The works of Vischer and Lipps are apt to this dissertation in at least four broad areas: the nature of involuntary empathy, ques- tions around the loss of self in empathy, empathy with trauma, and the work of empathy in the artist's task. Further, as we've discussed above, Vischer and Lipps share a fundamental similarity in much of their approach to our topic. They can therefore, with occasional digressions and clarifications, address together the poem at hand. In my reactions to Katherine, and in particular to the sense that I had somehow "gotten it wrong," I betrayed an attitude toward the question of empathy which can be labelled as naive from both literary- theoretical and scientific viewpoints. Vischer and Even the use of words like naive and development, how- ever, project an attitude of superiority which is not mine, and which I don't particularly want to propagate. Indeed, at the level of my own reading and writing I am, to quote my supervisor, enacting an empathetic negotiation be- tween a number of poles. So while the history of empathy is full of developments, these are usually the develop- ments of a news story, not the development from lesser to greater, or from worse to better. And while I will invoke the idea of maturity in the development of empathy, I do not inherently view the child or her views with disdain. Lipps (despite his greater sophistication in some ways) both display a similar naivete, particularly with respect to concepts such as the loss of self and inner imitation. Even so, the analogy in application is not 86 perfect. While the subject of this work of art is a human, the work in question is a poem, rather than a sculpture or a painting. And while architecture and music have also been mentioned in discussions lead- ing to Einfuhlung, especially by Schopenhauer, broadening its application considerably, the thinkers above have not extended these discussions to my own art of words. Further, the image here is neither an ideal form of pure beauty nor one of massive public tragedy, but rather a more mixed view of a woman undergoing an intimate trauma. Where the Self is Eost As already discussed in the introduction, Lipps and Vischer can be described as relatively scientific, par- ticularly for their times. Nonetheless there is a substantial ambiguity in the terms and phrases they use in describing the action of empathy, especially with respect to issues of self or subject (our beholder), and other or object (our model). Vischer asserts in several ways that the relevant drive is one towards the "full and complete union" of subject and object. He reserves this totality of merger for human-to-human interactions, where we can achieve a "doubling of self (Vischer 1873/1993, 106). Yet even in interac- tions with the inanimate: I project my own life into the lifeless form, just as I quite justifiably do with another living person. Only ostensibly do I keep my own identity although the object remains distinct. I seem merely to adapt and attach myself to it as one hand clasps another, and yet 1 am mysteriously transplanted and magically transformed into this Other. (Vischer 1873/1993, 104) Vischer here thoroughly denies any of Wyschogrod's sense of the limits of touch, and with it Rogers' as /̂clause. Lipps, too, obscures the distinctions, so much so that Rader can summarize Lipps as declaring, "the disappearance of the two-fold consciousness of self and object" (Rader 1979, 334). As will be seen in the summary to this section, where we discuss the role of conscious and unconscious action, this is not quite a subtle enough description of Lipps' position. Still, Lipps' descriptions retain some ambiguity. That ambiguity, for both Vischer and Lipps emerges especially clearly in their use of locational references and terms. In his positive reaction to Leben des Traums (The Life of the Dream), by Karl Al- bert Schemer (1861), Vischer approvingly notes that 87 Here it was shown how the body, in responding to certain stimuli in dreams, objectifies itself in spatial forms. Thus it unconsciously projects its own bodily form—and with this also the soul— into the form of the object. From this I derived the notion that I call "empathy" [Einfuhlung]. (1873/1993,92) "Here it was shown" declares these ideas as not just a summary of Schemer's work, but rather the aspects of that work of which Vischer approves. Bodily form and soul on this account are translocated within the form of the object. The remainder of Vischer's dissertation is an outworking the ways in which this pro- jection is the model for empathic projection even in a waking state, often conducted in an ongoing loca- tional discourse. As the action of empathy proceeds, for example, "empathy traces the object from the inside (the object's center) to the outside (the object's form)" (Vischer 1873/1993, 85). Lipps, too, has a tendency to describe the action of empathy in locational terms. In describing the a focus upon the movement of his own arm, he declares: In a word, I am now with my feeling of activity entirely and wholly in the moving figure [of my arm]. Even spatially, if we can speak of the spatial extent of the ego, I am in its place. I am trans- ported into it. (Lipps 1903/1979, 375) But whereas we might in recent literature expect the locational displacement of the ego in viewing one's own arm to be contrasted in some way with the focus upon another's arm, that is not in fact the contrast Lipps draws. While he acknowledges certain differences, he uses the locational emphasis as a model, and summarizes the experience of projected empathy in part in very locational terms. For Lipps, in aesthetic imitation (the core of empathy), "I am completely and wholly carried away from this sphere of my ex- perience" (Lipps 1903/1979, 376). Carried away where? "Empathy means, not a sensation in one's body, but feeling something, namely, oneself, into the aesthetic object" (Lipps 1903/1979, 377). Self and soul, Vischer and Lipps assert, somehow come to at least temporarily inhabit the object of the subject's aesthetic attention. This That members of certain cults believe in the projection of souls into other humans does not nullify my belief that a ma- jority of people in, say, Canada, including myself, don't in fact view this as possible. It does suggest that merely disbeliev- ing in this, without any other adequate defence, does not en- tirely justify dismissing Vischer's and Lipps' claims. approach can be criticized from many angles, beginning with that of casual functional disbelief. Even most of those around me who believe in some sort of transcendence would find this sort of projection im- possible. The attribution of naivete to this view, then, partakes of a prevailing sense that the self or soul, however we understand them, cannot in fact be projected into an object or another person. By contrast 88 with the firm denial of this possibility, any assertion that we could in fact do so, let alone that this action is at the heart of a common experience such as empathy, appears naive. However, even choosing to treat the concept of empathic location metaphorically leaves a residue of problems. For example, whereas Vischer and Lipps often focus more on a desire for union, Worringer claims to find inherent in Lipps a contradictory drive: The fact that the need for empathy as a point of departure for aesthetic experience also represents, fundamentally, an impulse of self-alienation is all the less likely to dawn upon us the more clearly the formula rings in our ears: 'Aesthetic enjoyment is objectified self-enjoyment." For this im- plies that the process of empathy represents a self-affirmation and affirmation of the general will to activity that is in us . . . . [Instead] we are delivered from our individual being as long as we are absorbed into an external object.... In this self-objectivation lies a self-alienation . . . . Popular us- age speaks with striking accuracy of "losing oneself in the contemplation of a work of art. In this sense, therefore, it cannot appear over-bold to attribute all aesthetic enjoyment— and perhaps even every aspect of the human sensation of happiness—to the impulse of self- alienation as the most profound and ultimate essence. (Worringer 1906/1997, 24) Here the generally positive aspects normally suggested as causes for empathy by Vischer and Lipps are quite logically opposed by self-alienation. I don't experience empathy as alienation, nor as driven by alienation, and under our current constructions of the term, I imagine most of those around me wouldn't either. Nonetheless, Worringer's observations point to the inadequacy of the locational focus of Vischer and Lipps, even were we to take that approach as metaphorical, for Worringer's comments open the pos- sibility that the loss of self as described by Lipps need not be driven by the migration of all of one's self into a desired union with another, but could instead be the direct result of the alienation of one's self, or the loss or desired loss of some aspect of one's self. This idea, then, is consistent with Lipps' and Vischer's descriptions of empathy but fails to connect with their own sense of its causes. At the psychological level, perhaps an argument can be made that a desire to escape oneself might lead to the over-projected sort of experience which could be described as losing oneself. This need not be so, however. In my own experience of empathy, not just with my friend on her awful day but gen- erally, I do not experience real confusion about just where I am, even when my "loss of self approxi- mates the descriptions given by all of the gentlemen in question. When I turn to the process of the poem in question, I discover a fundamental incoherence to the idea even when taken within the original context. 89 For surely if I am lost "in" something or someone else, my perspective ought to change. I ought specifi- cally to see as they would see, or at least imagine that I do. I remember being startled when my first child developed, at the age of four or five, the ability to project a point of view outside himself. He could assess the locations of people in a room, for example, as if from above. This was notably earlier than any evidence of the development of real emotional empa- thy of the perspective-changing type with others and well before any of the experts suggested using em- pathic analogy to help him understand the reactions of others. So from an early age we possess the capac- ity for an imagined change in cognitive visual perspective. Further, even serious comment might suggest that, "we can see the world through others' eyes and feel their pain" (Kohn 1990, 181), thereby more or less equating empathic feelings with a shift of perspective, even if we don't grant the possibility of truly visually seeing the world through their eyes. Yet, even though under Lipps' and Vischer's terms a fusion of spatial disjunction to inner imita- tion is required to accomplish empathy, the visual aspect of dislocation, the concept of literal point of view, is mentioned by neither of them. This absence marks a failure in the idea of locational shift in em- pathy at the metaphorical level. In another context, Lipps himself suggests a better alternative: Contrariwise, in aesthetic imitation this [self-other] opposition is absolutely done away with. The two are simply one. The mere mental image no longer exists . . . . In this 'aesthetic imitation' the facts seem to be analogous to what occurs in an unimitative movement of my own. The only dif- ference seems to be that I now am conscious of experiencing and performing a movement which in fact, and for subsequent reflection, is the movement of another. (Lipps 1903/1979, 375) Even when described by Vischer and Lipps in locational terms, this projection seems instead to be rather a loss of our conscious attention upon a sense of place, and not substantially different from the lack of spatial awareness which can occur with any "unimitative movement" of my own, or indeed with any in- tense focussed attention on something other than that immediate sense of place. Although, as a part of the general loss of consciousness of my situation in my focus upon my friend I may have for a time lost a conscious sense of my location, this is, thus, not that strange—I often lose sight of myself in this particular way in the pursuit of other focussed activities. Lipps points out where the oddness lies for him: 90 From my seat in the theatre I observe a dance which is performed upon the stage. In this case it is impossible for me to take part in the dance. Nor do I have the desire to dance; I am not in the mood for it. Both my situation and attitude prevent any bodily movements. But this does not eliminate my inner activity, the striving and satisfaction I feel as I contemplate the movements en- acted before me . . . . I experience the actual movement. I see it before me; not as my own of course. But in this lies the peculiarity of aesthetic imitation, that the alien activity takes the place of one's own. (Lipps 1903/1979, 375-6) While it may be possible to be simultaneously engaged and aware, the sense of alienness arises precisely when the fact that we seem to feel somehow that the other's actions "take the place o f our own. Lipps tells us neither what signals this sense of the alien to the beholder, nor what constitutes it, though his own discussion has suggested two possibilities. The ways in which we are more aware of their state, at the time and in memory, than of our own has already be shown not to be that odd, but that state combined with the ways in which we are and are not seeming to experience the model's state together draw atten- tion to the alienness of this situation. To elaborate, the failure of the Lipps' and Vischer's locational approach here helps provide a clarification. It may not be a loss of self so much as precisely the oddness of seeming to only partially experience someone else's reality which catches our attention. I would not necessarily be consciously focussed upon and aware of my own arm were I to wave it through the air. Indeed, I have often been sur- prised to have friends comment upon how I wave my hands around when I talk in an animated fashion. Katherine was not necessarily conscious of her own arm moving through the air, and might well not re- member it. But I noticed at the time and remember even now her arm moving through the air, while at the same time I have no idea what the actual physical disposition was of my own arm in that moment. So it is perhaps precisely this disjunction which calls attention to itself as empathy—that without feeling the breeze moving through the tiny hairs on her arm, any more than I visually make any replica of what she is seeing, I nonetheless in some way feel her arm move in my mind. We are, once we become conscious of the situation, more aware of the model's movements and of their apparent emotions, than of our own at that moment. Indeed, empathy makes us more aware of their movements and emotions than our own in that moment, but also perhaps more conscious of what we perceive as their state than we usu- ally are conscious of our own. This then has a reflexive effect, already alluded to by Stewart above, of 91 making us more conscious of our own movements and emotions than we might otherwise have been. And the contrast between that absorption and our unconscious but retained sense of location makes clear that this is indeed an experience in which we can be profoundly absorbed, unaware of our own current state, but not in fact lost in the other. Under this account, Wyschogrod's use of touch, with its limitations seems a better metaphoric description of the action of empathy. The locational metaphor, however, can do service as a description of naive or unrestrained empa- thy. Wyschogrod suggests that the locational limitations implied by touch are accurate descriptors of limitations inherent in empathy. Rogers' as //"condition is not for him an absolute. Indeed the very sug- gestion (see "Carl Rogers" above) that we need to remember this condition implies that we can forget it, which forgetting then imperils the mature therapeutic practice of empathy. Hence, even if we grant these locational descriptions as metaphorically possible, they are not ones we would want to espouse as ideal or mature empathy. crossed it out in favour of "habitation." This latter word encodes a clarifying distinction regarding the accuracy of even temporary habitation: her child was in her body, just as my child was within mine. Vischer describes the end result of the process of empathic projection as a translocation so thorough that, "I wrap myself within its contours as in a garment" (Vischer 1873/1993, 101). Infants make shocking houseguests. They wear our bodies like Vischer's garments and make use of them for their own good. By contrast, I have not put on Katherine's body like any garment, even a temporary travelling cloak. And while "losing oneself in the other" is a common enough description of romantic or sexual love, in a non- sexual relationship the idea of doing so partakes of a creepy body snatching which is in fact metaphori- cally apt for what can go wrong with empathy when the beholder forgets the limits of touch, forgets the as if, and mistakes their emotional location. We not only do not, we can not, entirely adopt the point of view of another, so in this sort of intimate situation, with a therapist or anyone else, mistaken location results As I sat in the car scribbling the first notes for the poem, "After He has Gone," I began with the word "gestation" and then immediately 92 not in better empathy, but quite possibly in the imposition of an alien point of view upon the supposedly inhabited person as if it were their own. In the end then, the naivete in my reactions and those of my friends did not consist in mistaking our location during the act of empathy—I did not in fact lose myself in the particular way which they are describing. But if I can plausibly claim not to have literally or metaphorically mislaid a part of myself in some foreign location, I can nonetheless be quite confused about accuracy of my inner imitation. Accuracy in Aesthetic Imitation . Accurate imitation is what the reading group members imputed to me. They believed that I had somehow, through close attention and by a combination of something like intuition and analogy, experi- enced emotions and perhaps other more-cognitive sensations, which were if not identical at least very similar to what Katherine was feeling at the time, and all this without "objectively explicit" communica- tion. I've heard the "That's exactly how it is!" sort of reaction derided as "naive." But empathy is such a compelling illusion it is easy to see how this confusion arises. Further, it's no wonder that my friends would believe I had gained some privileged empathic access to Katherine's state. After all, with a part of my life, I am an academic, years into reading sophisticated materials, asking all the relevant questions about the subject-object dichotomy, about the personal construction of reality, all with respect to empa- thy. Yet in my other incarnations as a friend and writer, I was shocked at Katherine's first response to my poem, at what, despite my supposed critical sophistication, I experienced as a failure of imitation. Upon reflection, I realised that I was conceiving not just of my experience but of my own poem as somehow more a replication than a resonance. This misapprehension of "vicariously experiencing" or "fully comprehending" the experience of another is by no means limited to me and my non-academic friends. Writers in considerably more techni- cal contexts can also exhibit this belief. Raymond Mar, for example, in an otherwise insightful and care- ful article from within the realm of cognitive psychology, reminds us, "We are not privy to the thoughts and beliefs of others," but then suggests rather confusingly that we can exercise the "ability to infer and 93 monitor the mental-states of numerous autonomous agents" (Mar 2004, 4). This sort of phrasing is gen- eral enough to make me wonder whether some fundamental aspect of our interpretation of this phenome- non as a genuine imitation may in fact be integral to the experience. Both in practice and in analysis it is very difficult to separate intuitive inner imitation as described by Hoffman (above) from the unconscious and involuntary aspects of empathy. Nevertheless, the idea of inner imitation, an inner mimicry, is perhaps the single thought from Vischer and Lipps which has most persisted across time. However contested, it is also the single concept which appears in virtually every modern discipline discussing empathy. Hoffman, for example, citing research into infant mimicry, states that, "... one observes another's expression of feeling, automatically imitates his expression, and then the brain takes over and makes one feel what the other feels" (Hoffman 2000, 37). Though mimicry begins with the external expression, here it ends with an absolute identity of feeling. In a later chapter, I explore the physiological descriptions of empathy, but within this particular frame of discussion, a problem arises. Certainly, I believe physical mimicry likely occurred during the incident mentioned in the poem. Though I didn't consciously imitate my friend's physical state during our conversation, when I remembered the incident afterward, I remembered her, not myself. In precisely the fashion suggested in the section just prior to this one, I remembered her elbow on the small marble topped kitchen table; I have no idea whether mine was similarly placed. Precisely because I was unaware of my own physical behaviour, I have no way of knowing to what extent I physically responded to her physical being. If she was as absorbed as I, she can't clarify the question for me, for she would remember me, rather than herself and be equally incapable of comparing our physical attitudes. We would need the sort of person who spies on patrons at art galleries, a Vischer or a Lipps, to spy out and inform us of the extent of our mimicry of each other. This aspect too is as Lipps' has described it: unless for some reason I choose to focus on my own physical movements, I don't in the ordinary run of things necessarily re- member the sequence of actions I take in drinking a specific cup of tea. I accompanied my friend Norah, who. paints landscapes, to a frozen field near Vancouver. Wrapped in a down coat, I ed- ited while she drew. After a few minutes I was distracted by a guttural grunt, and a few moments later by a groan. When asked, she said others had mentioned these verbalizations to her, but that she was completely unaware of making them as she worked. I remember her groans, though of course, as she was not aware of them at the time, she does not. 94 Yet, as I remember my overall sense, I know that in response to her grief my face wore a sadness which was not directly my own. And I remember the series of images which crossed my mind. The im- age of her arm, the image of a mirror, was not sense data from the immediate scene. These images, and others—the two of them in an earlier summer; her graceful arm moving through the air as she talks, so animated; her relative stillness at the table now—were fleeting. These images mixed at the time with what was before me. The sharp contrast between her animation in memory and her flatness as she spoke that day ap- pears to contradict Lipps' and Vischer's theories, since certain of these images seem to arise not in Yet precisely that counterpoint sharpens the sense of her current state. There is a mentation here which is sensual rather than verbal in its content, a visual logic of emotional apposition, sharpening my sense of the immediate by contrast rather than by agreement, rather in the way, already mentioned, that academic discussions may proceed by disagreement rather than agreement. Soon I will discuss the question of whether my brain could be described as replicating these mo- tions, both those of Katherine on that day and those of the remembered events, in the body map within my cortex. For now I will only say that I not only saw the physical images of her body, but felt them in a near-physical way—shadowy, a spectral body moving within my mind. Certainly, the sensual garment of which I was consciously aware, in which I wrapped my appre- hension of and apprehension about Katherine's state, was only tenuously and infrequently made of my own cloak of flesh, at the conscious level. I was far more aware of the scene in which I was immersed and of the woman I was beholding. I was "no longer able to separate the perceiver from the perception" (Schopenhauer in Morgan 1996, 319). Again, this felt state is very like our own state when we are ab- sorbed in something, and not conscious of our muscular activity. In other words I felt her movements in a agreement, but in counterpoint to her immediate state. I experience other kinds of visual thinking, in particular a kind of verbal pun-nage. Recently a friend described the way the uni- verse seems to thwart her plans, and guessed at a "closet co- ordinator of events." Anticipating her phrase internally, I under- stood her intended metaphysical paranoia, but what I saw for a flash was a dark-haired, slender man, very stylish in his attire (closeted?), standing before an incredibly modern, perfectly or- ganized closet, full of those white enamelled racks—a strange conversational rebus that had NOTHING to do with my friend's intent, nor even with my own closet, more's the pity. This cate- gory of experience suggests a visual criticism of the verbal, in contrast with the verbal criticism of the verbal which predomi- nates even in this dissertation. 95 way not dissimilar from how I would remember moving my own arm, were I to focus upon it as an object of attention and then recall it later, or the way I would experience my own dream body, "objectified" in a "spatial form." As per Vischer, my imitative empathy seemed to imagine itself somehow from the inside, out— building for itself the body which fit my inner sense of Katherine's experience which had accumulated through the encounter. That body had stretch marks: an emblem of her state. This, of course, was not true mimicry, any more than the rest of my experience was true inner imitation. What I had done was wrap my apprehension of Katherine's emotional state in a patchwork garment involving my own current state—my stretch marks, which unlike many of my friends, I cherish, and in a state which I imaged as if I were in her position—the purse of skin empty now not just of children, but even of the male sex. Thus, even in the details which related not to my current life, but hers, this was not her spectral body, but mine. Though I am not likely to confuse my projection into a statue with the statue's own "feeling," I can and did do exactly this with my friend. It is interesting to note that the older conceptions of empathic interaction we are considering here, with their metaphors of aesthetic observance, can in one light actually help to foster a more constrained understanding of what occurs when I (speaking narrowly) observe my friend in pain. The ways in which Lipps and Vischer address similarities in our empathic ap- proaches to the human and non-human phenomena help to remind us that empathy is "objectified self- enjoyment" in either realm. This point of view, however, is after the fact, and very hard won compared to the immediate experience. Whilst in the midst of intimate conversation, and even afterward, I attributed an inner accuracy not only to my perceptions, but to the eventual poem. Here, then, in the realm of empathic accuracy, my friends and I are guilty of a naivete. My shock, my friends' comments, both indicate an investment in the concept of accuracy of internal empathy, which constitutes a failure to focus upon, let alone understand the impulse and consequence of poetic action. What is at stake is not just confusion at the level of theory, but the potential for a confusion of the be- holder's feelings with those of the model, and any actions which might flow from this confusion. 96 The issues of locational ambiguity and accuracy of imitation each have as their focus the self- other nexus, and while I did not misplace myself locationally, I certainly did become confused about the relative accuracy arising from my seeming immersion in Katherine's state. Writers sometimes suggest that a work may be wiser than they are themselves, and in this case, the poem retains at least three mark- ers, which, despite the deep empathic context of the original experience, retain a perspective from outside the model described. The narrative is in first person—there is an "I" telling the story, and the repeated as if emphasizes each time the interpretive nature of the text. But the mirror in this poem especially embodies the ways in which I wasn't truly projected into Katherine's, state and place. In the initial image, which was fleeting but very concrete, the view of the mirror was oblique, as if I were seeing the glass from one side. As if in a dream, someone is in front of the mirror, but from my angle, I cannot see them, nor their reflection. This image retains in its ambiguity a clarity which I myself at certain points lost. "I" am seeing, as if in "her" mirror, but there is no "who" in the glass. Involuntary and Unconscious Aspects Lipps and Vischer's focus upon involuntary and unconscious aspects of empathy can be seen in the discussions above: the body projects itself "unconsciously" (Vischer 1873/1993, 92), and we are, in empathy, "carried away from this sphere" (Lipps 1903/1979, 376). For Vischer, the fact, already men- tioned, that the most crucial immediate influence upon his theory of empathy is provided by a book on dreams, argues for a focus upon the unconscious. This thoroughly unconscious projection of dreams, for him, is indeed the model for empathic projection even in a waking state. Not just the process, but the mo- tivation for empathy are unconscious; the state of "pure absorption" which is the end-point of aesthetic empathy at which we arrive arises from "the unconscious need for a surrogate for our body-ego" (Vischer 1873/1993, 101). Certainly a degree of unconsciousness marked my experiences with Katherine. As I sat with my friend that day I was frequently in Vischer's state of "pure absorption," lost in her words and her state, in the sense that I was little conscious of my own physical body or my place in space. Nor did I in any con- 97 scious sense specifically choose to enter that empathic state, which the poem then recollects. I certainly didn't consciously mimic her physical behaviour. All of these statements, but particularly this last, would help satisfy Lipps in my claim that my state was one of empathy, since he specifically theorizes the relationship of empathy to unconscious be- haviour. For Lipps, inner imitation, the core of empathy, may best be seen in contrast to deliberate imita- tion. In deliberate imitation, I see the movement or posture of the other and am conscious of his inner activity of will or pride, while at the same time I experience both my own posture and inner qualities in my self. Aesthetic imitation is quite different. Contrariwise, in aesthetic imitation this opposition is absolutely done away with. The two are simply one. The mere mental image no longer exists . . . . In this 'aesthetic imitation' the facts seem to be analogous to what occurs in an unimitative movement of my own. The only difference seems to be that I now am conscious of experiencing and performing a movement which in fact, and for subsequent reflection, is the movement of another. (Lipps 1903/1979, 375) The critical nuance here, already noted in a section above, is that in my own willed action, say a choice to rise from a chair, I will usually decide and simply move. I will not normally be conscious of the imme- diacies of muscle tension, for example, in this act. I am instead conscious of the subjective qualities of willing or power (Lipps 1903/1979, 377). Even if I am physically imitating a person or sculpture, per- haps even going so far as to adopt their posture, this imitation is "far away from aesthetic empathy" (Lipps 1903/1979, 374) if I am at the same time conscious of my physical movements. Instead, in real empathy, I become "progressively less aware of muscular tensions or sense feelings" (Lipps 1903/1979, 376). Once again, the focus is upon the unconscious, in this case to the specific exclusion of the con- scious. These subjective states or qualities such as willing or power are the entire point. As summarized by Rader, Lipps' empathy is a result of the fusion of these inner activities, what we might call an emotion, such as pride or vigour, and pure physical stimulus (1979, 334). While viewing the beautiful object, I may experience the activity, such as "striving or willing, exerting or bestirring myself." While this sense of activity may become objective when contemplated later, it is not in any sense objective during the "immediately experienced activity" of contemplating the beautiful object of my friend's grief (Lipps 98 1903/1979, 371). Even immediately after I left Katherine's home, I was still gripped by the feelings I had experienced within, and I was replaying what I saw (the visual image of her face) and what I heard (the sound of her voice): in other words, the physical stimuli attached to an inner activity (the feelings). I also remembered the interplay between these immediate stimuli and the other images my mind imposed upon her words and in response to the experience as it played out. These I worked with to produce the poem. But just as Lipps suggests, these awarenesses were grasped as conscious objects for thought only after the fact. At the time, they were experiences which were registered, and therefore accessible to later memory, but unanalyzed. As already mentioned, there exists even as early as Smith and Hume a conceptual divide between the volitional analogizing of putting oneself in another's shoes (Smith) and the unconscious and involun- tary reactions of empathy (Hume). The rooting of Vischer's concepts in dreams, and Lipps' insistence on the opposition of consciousness to empathy, all indicate that the focus for Lipps and Vischer is clearly on the unconscious and non-volitional. Choice Nonetheless there are a number of aspects of this poem which deserve discussion under the rubric of choice. When I registered shock at my friend's reaction to my poem, I was betraying a failure to remem- ber another crucial aspect of this poem, namely its constructed nature, and the choices which go into this process. The attempt to produce a non-falsifiable text (as per Issues and Presuppositions, above) does not imply that any direct replication can occur from experience. Rather, an entire series of choices occurs, many of them, such as retaining the "I," with ethical overtones. The photograph of the lute (in Defini- tions, above) carries with it a set of naive assumptions about the idea of direct representation—that some- how the lute and piano simply and directly are what they are, ignoring the details of lighting and technol- ogy and framing. These details make an apt metaphor for the space in which I could respond to my friend, believing, if unconsciously, that my poem was in some sense a direct representation of her own state. These assumptions are discussed directly in Case Study II below. 99 For now, a better visual metaphor hy far. one which H M M I M H incorporates the complex constructedness of the poem, has to do with Norah's drawing for the cover of Mike Allen's latest compact disk, Love One Another (2004). On the compact disk, Mike actually plays the saxophone, but in the drawing, the saxophone lies on the piano, as he plays his compositions from the compact disk on that piano while Norah draws him. The drawing tells, in the sense discussed above, a true story—Mike did play the piano as Norah drew—but she composed the drawing very deliberately. I did not structure the events at Katherine's house in the same way, but the poem itself was composed, and I worked on it very hard. Like Norah, I was indeed trying to create a communication or performance, and I certainly hope that in some way my experience of Katherine in that day travels to my readers or hearers. Even if desired, perfect replication is never possible, but were I asked about the poem, "Did it really happen this way?" I could answer "Yes, it did." I would mean by this, as per my comments in the Introduction, not that there was no design in the poem, but that I sought in this series of poems to write a poem which would at least not be falsified by the events, or at least not by my necessarily limited and faulty memory of them. By replicating this particular aspect of this particular experience, as truthfully as I could within the craft of poetry, I made more explicit my own empathic reaction, and thereby communi- cated something which Holly and the Bitter Ladies, though none divorced and all in long marriages, could then empathize with in turn. However, this description oversimplifies by suggesting that an experience (my conversation with Katherine) occurred, and then that experience directly shaped the poem. This is temporally correct, but misses the ways in which my work of writing, or state of being a writer, ongoingly shapes my experience of such incidents as my conversation with Katherine. Another incident from the day I took the photo- 100 graphs helps to clarify this concept. That day, I walked out of Norah's house with my camera over my shoulder and was struck by a series of images, paving stones, a birdbath, which that day seemed to reflect a somewhat off-kilter but intense light, and which seemed almost to beg to be photographed. I indulged them by taking a series of pictures on my way home, most of which are in themselves off-kilter in some way. This is not my normal way of being as I walk home from Norah's house—I can say with reasonable certainty that I saw what I saw the way I saw it because I had my camera over my shoulder—I experienced the world as if it were already framed as a series of photographs waiting to happen. I am only an occasional photographer, but I am a nearly continuous user of words, internally or externally, and have executed this sort of performative writing often enough over many years that my verbal camera is always over my arm, on the alert for the worded snapshot. This state of alertness cer- tainly impacts even my immediate experience, such that with this poem and the others, phrases uttered by those upon whom I was focussed became almost a distraction from that focus. This superior alertness to certain turns of phrase, and to the ongoing word- and phrase-making which attend any experience, cer- tainly affects the details of that experience. Further, if we are right about assuming the formative nature of language upon cognition, then my experience in this situation will have been shaped by my prior expo- sure to, or more accurately immersion in, the concept of empathy, even though I was not consciously thinking of that body of work at the time of the conversation. This complex process is beyond the scope of this dissertation, but the intricate mutually constitutive interaction between poem and experience is be- yond doubt: I often or usually experience my auditory world as a series of word-events, waiting to be written. I explore the remaining poems in this cycle in conjunction with scientific texts whose modes of discourse are necessarily oriented toward the deterministic and therefore non-volitional. They also pri- marily seek to explore unconscious phenomena. While we will never in our explorations recuperate the 101 visions of Lipps and Vischer with respect to the loss of self, or the locational shifts, we will recuperate in the scientific material a form of relative accuracy. With respect to this poem, this is good news. For one thing, my friend was able to tune my empathy—to correct the apprehensions I presented to her and in my poem—so if we accept the possibility of relative accuracy, and that words can play a role in that tuning, then we have the potential for growth and adaptation into higher degree of accuracy in at least an ongoing relationship. And we can hope for a generalization of that accuracy, a growing ability to tune our empa- thy even to those we don't yet know. 102 D u a n e a n d A n n e On a weekend in September, my husband Tom and I travelled on a cruise ship to the Princess Louisa Inlet to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a camp there. This camp played a crucial role for my husband dur- ing his teens and in his eventual choice to become a church pastor. Tom, the most extroverted otherwise- normal person I know, was looking forward very much to the time, but I wandered around the week be- fore reminding my friends that despite my obvious charm, the thought of being locked up on a boat with any 600 people with whom I had to pretend to be friendly, let alone a group of potentially very conserva- tive Evangelical Americans, was giving me hives. I said that the women would all be blond (one way or another), and the men would all be self-made business men who wore jeans and cowboy boots and had short hair, and that they would all, male and female, be very, very nice. As it turned out, I was predomi- nantly right on all counts, except that I failed to guess that I would be one of only a handful of women with short hair. In any case, by the end of the first dinner, even Tom's patience with small talk was wearing thin, and we excused ourselves to go find the only close friends we had on the boat. They were nestled in a corner at a table for six with Duane and Anne who turned out to be a fascinating couple, somewhat older than the rest of us. We took over the two empty chairs, and during the next two hours we experienced one of those sudden drops into revelation and intimacy which can only occur in times and places sealed away from our ongoing lives. Only when Duane stood up from the table did I realize he had a white cane. His gaze had been to all appearances perfectly normal as we all spoke, tracking with the conversation and seeming to focus. The next evening, we joined their table again. As we were all sitting down, I asked about it. "Oh yes, Duane's blind," said Anne. Later in the evening, Tom asked what had happened—a sudden failure of one and then the other optic nerve over only a few weeks—and then, "What has that been like for you?" "I cannot look into her eyes and this is hard," Duane said, though he had given every appearance of doing so, "but harder for her than for me." 103 Anne looked at him as he said this, and then said, with great intensity, "I think what's hardest for me is, we will not see each other again." The phrase startled me with its first person plural. At the end of dinner we excused ourselves and I rushed back to our room, slightly drunk on the wine and company, and desperate to write this interchange into my journal. I was busy with my academic work, but within a few days, I typed a first version onto my computer, and began to turn it into a poem. D u a n e a n d A n n e He says, "I cannot look into her eyes and this is hard, but harder for her than for me." Though his sight has gone, not hers, though she looks at him as she speaks, she says, "We will not see each other again." And I can hear her not seeing him. She is blind with his not seeing. She would be deaf with his not hearing. She can see him not seeing her as she speaks. Eventually I thought "I should show Duane and Anne this poem." I believed, on balance, they would like it, but I was worried. What if they identified themselves with the poem, yet felt that I had completely misunderstood or even misrepresented them? Conversely, what if the poem caused them pain? Either way, I worried that they might resent the fact that I had mined our time together for a poem. In the end I emailed: H i Duane and Anne, I am s t i l l t h i n k i n g w i t h r e a l fondness o f our time on the M a l i b u boat. You a l l were such a d e l i g h t f u l p a r t of those few days. I wound up w r i t i n g a c y c l e of poems about middle-aged and o l d e r c o u p l e s j u s t a f t e r t h a t time, and I wanted t o l e t you see them. One of them ar o s e out o f my time w i t h you two. I hope i t i s n ' t d i s t r e s s i n g f o r you. I don't know how much p o e t r y you read, but I am c o n s t a n t l y aware t h a t my o b s e r v a t i o n s a r e j u s t t h a t — o b s e r v a t i o n s from a s p e c i f i c view- p o i n t . Indeed t h e y can be n o t h i n g e l s e — e v e n empathy, as a poet f r i e n d o f mine says, has more t o do w i t h resonance than replication. Hope you a r e b o t h w e l l . Duane responded: 104 It was so good of you to send us your poems. they are great! Anne and I enjoyed them very much. Anne's response to my email was: Dear Karen, Well, somehow t h i s got to the bottom of the stack so sorry to be t h i s long i n responding to you. F i r s t of a l l , we too remember our time on the ship. Actually, i t was probably a h i g h l i g h t f o r us. Karen, thank you for the lo v e l y poetry. Actually, we are having a po- etry read here....our second....on the 2 0th of March and I am reading a couple of yours. We have about ten folks....mostly f a c u l t y . . . f o r din- ner and everyone reads something. Duane plays his trumpet as h i s g i f t to us. So, I w i l l be so honoured to read a couple of yours. Thank you, thank you! While I wasn't seeking permission—I had already written the poem, and planned to read it—I would have liked a more direct response to this specific poem about the two of them. It crossed my mind, out of interest, to ask, as I did with Katherine, whether they did in fact identify with the poem, and what their emotional responses were to it. However, I am not in the same sort of close relationship with them, and have not pursued it. Nevertheless, my response to their emails was to feel reassured, not least be- cause they responded to the set as a whole, and intended to read not one, but several. The very indirection relative to the specific poem suggested that it was being treated as a poetic artefact, rather than a direct personal commentary. In this process, empathy was at play in a number of ways: in my original experience, in Duane's expression of empathy with his wife's emotions, in the eventual communication with them about the poem, and in the writing of the poem itself, which reflected my attempt to describe the process which had occurred before me—a failure of sight which had led to a complex, multi-layered, and highly refracted mirroring of emotions. The attempt to frame the limits of my expertise about their experience directly reflected on the one hand, my recent experiences with Katherine, and, on the other, the reading and think- ing I was doing about the question of empathy from a more academic standpoint. 105 M I R R O R N E U R O N S When Anne sees Duane not seeing her, she experiences visually a failure of visual mirroring. The nature of the early theories of empathy, with their focus on art (especially the "higher" arts) and on the complexities of human interaction, suggest that this mirroring is a highly sophisticated activity. And indeed it is; yet this activity has a corollary in the brain reactions of macaques—short-tailed Old World monkeys often used in research. Gallese et al looked at a set of 532 neurons in a particular area of the macaque brain which had previously been identified in "goal-directed hand and mouth movements" such as reaching for, grasping and eating a raisin (1996, 594). The researchers discovered that a specific set of these neurons, now named "mirror-neurons," fired when one macaque observed another in this same ac- tion. The mere sight of the other macaque, or of the raisin, did not stimulate this response. Research like this has been picked up by those who examine how humans understand other hu- mans' minds, a field called "Theory of Mind," which draws in a highly interdisciplinary way from phi- losophy, cognitive and neuro-psychology, and neuropsychiatry. For these researchers, the idea that ma- caques simulate each others' behaviour within their "mental muscles" was startling. Rizollatti et al (1996) decided to look for a similar reaction in humans. While researchers are not allowed to connect probes directly to human neurons, the pattern of brain activation as measured on scans by increased blood flow strongly suggested that human brains, too, reflect the actions of others in ways similar to the repre- sentation of actions by themselves. The directly visual aspect of this is represented in "Duane and Anne," in which Duane's failure of sight means that he cannot see Anne's reactions to his own failure to see, though he can discern aspects of her reactions through his other senses, and, since he is recently blind, I can't help but wonder if he "sees" her facial reactions with his inner eye. Anne, in her long intimacy with him, is not fooled by the superfi- cial tracking of his eyes from person to person as they speak. She knows that, whatever his remembered vision of her is, the immediacy of gesture, the moment-to-moment changes of her expression, are not mirrored within him any more, and she experiences this in such a way that she reflexively labels not just him, but the two of them together, with his blindness. 106 But why should we need to reflect another's activities in this way? The location of the mirror neurons in a goal-directed area of the brain suggests that planning or at least anticipation may be in- volved. Most theorists link this skill to our need to anticipate others' behaviour, and indeed we seem to be rather good at that anticipation. After all, when we are surprised by another's behaviour, we are only testifying to the ongoing fact that we usually are not surprised. Ramnani and Miall used cued finger movements of the right hand to examine this question within the context of the advanced human capacity to "understand others' intentions" (2004, 85). What they found reads rather like a neuroscientist's rewrite of Lipps and Titchener: In summary, we have shown that the human motor system is engaged when subjects use arbitrary visual instruction cues to prepare their own actions, and also when they use the same cues to pre- dict the actions of other people. However, these two tasks engage separate sub-circuits within the premotor system . . . . These results suggest that understanding the action-related mental states of others may not be explained by simulation theory alone. Although predicting the actions of others does involve the motor system (PMv), thus supporting simulation theory, activation of PMv in- stead of PHd suggests that pure simulation of the other person's mental state cannot be the mechanism used. Rather it is likely that we understand the actions of others either by mental im- agery of their actions or by the simulation of our own action. (Ramnani and Miall 2004, emphasis mine) Perhaps surprisingly, the applications of these various findings to the concept of empathy include a partial reclamation of the idea of empathic accuracy, at least with respect to simple volitional movements. These findings suggest that we can and do mirror the behaviour of others. To the extent that my brain is similar to another's, the relevant parts of my brain can mirror that other's behaviour in ways which are more or less similar to the firing which would occur if I were performing that same action. But the existence of a separate system for anticipating the behaviour of others, for assessing their intentions, places limits upon our empathy, even at this quite simple level. It looks indeed as if, at least within this activity, we don't directly simulate the other's mental state, but rather engage in some combination of analogical mental imagining and a simulation of our own similar actions (with this mirroring enabled by the mirror neu- rons). There seems no particular reason to assume that this mirroring skill is highly limited. Indeed, Duane's emotional mirroring of his wife's greater distress was certainly borne out by our subsequent con- versations with them. It seems reasonable to presume similar systems for at least the other senses, espe- 107 daily those important to communication. I assume for example that Anne's particular tones of voice in- voke in Duane a mirroring as well, such that his brain's complex pattern of activation includes neurons firing in a way similar to how they would fire were he using that tone of voice. From the speaker's and hearer's perspective, this phenomenon might better be called an echo, or even a sub-sonic resonance, since the beholder is not necessarily conscious of the replication within the system. It is the neuroscientist who will see the neurons matching up and therefore, even in an auditory or tactile situation, experience the relationship via the visual metaphor of mirroring. And I too see and hear, picking up and mirroring in Anne's way of looking at Duane, in their way of speaking to and about one another, the failure of mirroring I cannot see with Duane myself, because his eyes seem normal, because his gaze tracks, and because I do not know him well enough. And in doing so, I anticipate another possible reality, another possible set of reactions; I mirror in my own reactions to them the possibility that a loss of hearing would have a very similar impact, be a similar mirrored failure, but auditory this time. 108 B o b ' s J a n e y My mother-in-law, eighty at the time I wrote this poem, has had noticeable Alzheimer's disease for sev- eral years now. She and her husband Bob were married two years after Tom and I were. Both came from difficult first marriages which were, nonetheless, dissolved against their desires. They have lived their twenty-five years together with enormous affection and gratitude for one another. In September, 2003, we visited them in their home, about five hours drive away from ours. On the first evening, Tom and I listened from the living room as Bob, also eighty, struggled to get Jane ready to attend a cocktail party down the street. Jane had not opened her purse in years and had lost it several times recently, but he could not convince her to leave it behind. What Bob was experiencing as balkiness, Tom and I experi- enced as Jane's lack of the tools to process the situation. She simply did not believe Bob when he said, "You don't need it." Reminding her that she had recently lost it several times didn't work either—she didn't remember ever losing it. In the end, Bob got her out the door without her purse. Periodically throughout the evening she wanted her bag, and I found her at one point searching for it in our hosts' empty living room, picking up and looking under the throw cushions on the sofa. It was easy to assure her, though, and then distract her. I was distressed, not for the first time, that what seemed to work best was treating her like a small child. The next day Bob said to me, "I get so angry with myself for being irritated with her." I told him that we could see his love for her, and that anyone would be irritated from time to time. Yet when I tried to suggest by way of comfort that Jane probably didn't remember his irritation, he rejected the idea categorically. On the way home, Tom and I discussed whether to talk to Bob about the incident. Almost all of Bob's interactions with Jane were still full of care and warmth; we didn't worry for her at all. But we were worried for him. Bob had adopted over the last few years the full burden of their household life, chores like shopping, cooking and laundry he had never done in all his years as a cardiologist, and he seemed very tired and even depressed to us. If he was beating himself up over lapses in patience, at least in part through a failure to recognize how severe Jane's losses had become, it seemed simply more than 109 he should bear. If we were right about her memory, then recognizing this might help relieve the tension for him. Yet, in watching their conversations, it was clear Bob still believed Jane to be engaged in some meaningful way. I found myself saying to Tom, "Only his love keeps her here." A strange pun-like sense of kept struck me as I spoke the words. Certainly without his continuing affection and love, she would not be the happy and peaceful woman she manifestly still was—Bob's love kepth&r in this state. His assumption of her physical care kept her physically in her own home, where she was still comfortable, and could navi- gate, and where we could still experience her in many familiar ways. His love also kept her present to him in ways which seemed un-tethered to the experience anyone else was having with her, and in doing so, increased his frustrations with her and thus his own pain. In the end, it seemed to us that he would be even more profoundly lonely than he already was if he saw Jane as further gone. What is it about hearing another's pain? Jane began failing rapidly and we were often on the phone with Bob once we returned home. At one point, something in the tone of his first few words caused me to think, almost audibly, "I don't want to hear this." And indeed what he told us was very dif- ficult: her balkiness and paranoia were increasing, and she had moved from "incontinence of urine" to "incontinence of stool," as he put it with his old-school physician's technical delicacy. Something else happened once we returned. I was startled to realize how often I, too, reached for my purse. I, too, would go through a slight panic when I couldn't lay my hands on it, usually then re- membering that I had brought only my wallet along for some particular errand. I noticed my friends, too, habitually reaching for their bags. Missing purses were like amputated limbs; they itched even when they weren't there. Yet I had not noticed this behaviour before. The entire package of experiences, including the various words and the ways they played in my mind, would normally have motivated me to write ei- ther a poem or a short reflection. But I was resistant; I didn't want to go through the articulation of the emotional pain attached to the situation. However, the day I grouped the first three poems together under the title "Old Love," I knew that I also wanted to include this fourth one as well, and I began to write it, using at first the title, "Only His Love Keeps her Here." 110 Bob's Janey I It's been years since she opened it but like any woman she's always reaching reaching for her purse. She can't remember stalking the house for hours after leaving it behind at a party or in the lady's room at church. But she does know she's a lady, and though it's long since she ceased even to say her children's names, a lady carries a purse. II He just can't believe she can't remember, so he tells her for at least the fifth time, "You don't need that bag at the party tonight." As long as she wants her purse, she might still be his Janey; if only she might remember, she is, for him, still here. The writing was emotionally hard, the editing has been harder. In keeping with our original deci- sion not to press our understanding upon Bob, I chose not to share this poem with him. Co-incidences which, were they to happen in fiction, would seem terribly contrived sometimes insert themselves into daily life. On the day I gave myself to finally finish the first draft of this chapter— I told my husband in the morning I wouldn't go to bed until it was done. At dinner time, Bob called to tell us that he had put Jane that day into a home for Alzheimer's patients. Throughout the long conversa- tion we had with him he was tender and grief-stricken, though fortunately not feeling guilty about the de- cision. He was even already a little relieved. But he kept saying, every few minutes, "I better get off the phone, now." And his reason each time was something like, "I don't want to dump all this (meaning his emotions) on you." In turning from that phone call to this paper, it crossed my mind that some day, perhaps, I will be able to let Bob read "Janey's Purse." For now, though, it feels still too likely to invoke pain. There is in Ill all of these interactions evidence of aversion, on my part and Bob's, both to hearing and to expressing that pain. Having said this, there is nevertheless a potential loss for Bob, what the economists would call an opportunity cost. Certainly a great deal of therapy is predicated upon the idea that talking about past and current difficulties can have a beneficial impact on one's mental health. There is also a common ground- level assumption that overall physical health can improve in response. N A R R A T I V E A N D T R A U M A Beginning with Pennebaker and Beall's landmark study (Pennebaker and Beall 1986), a signifi- cant number of studies have explored specifically this question: Does writing about trauma improve health across a broad range of areas? In that original study, writing about a specific trauma during four one-hour sessions led to statistically significant improvements in measures of physical health. Studies since that time have distinguished between those who have suffered severe trauma (such as sexual or physical abuse) and more usual trauma (the death of a grandparent), and have extended the health out- comes examined as well. A literature review (Smyth 1998) concluded that good evidence of statistically significant impact existed for this and similar tasks in the areas of reported health, psychological well- being, general functioning, and physiological functioning. No statistically significant improvement was found in health behaviours. Other more-specific findings of interest include greater health improvement amongst more-traumatized people (Greenberg and Stone 1992), and increased long-term positive heath effect when depression was greater immediately post-task (Greenberg and Stone 1992; Pennebaker and Beall 1986; Murray, Lamnin, and Carver 1989). Finally, these results seem to replicate not just among college students (who share relevant characteristics such as youth, above-average health, and above- average competency at life-skills) but among mill-workers (Pennebaker 1993) and psychiatric prison in- mates (Richards et al. 2000). But what has any of this to do with empathy? A number of models have been proposed to ac- count for the above results. One study (Greenberg, Wortman, and Stone 1996), while setting out to exam- ine two of these competing models (inhibition and self-regulation), generated results that correlate very 112 well with the work mentioned about empathy above. In this study, female participants with "real-trauma presence" (self- and other-assessed) were divided into three groups. Control group participants visualized their campus in detail. The other two groups wrote about severe abuse ("physical abuse, sexual molesta- tion, rape, death or life-threatening illness of a parent, family violence, a life-threatening injury or acci- dent, violent assault, abandonment by a parent, parental divorce, and witnessing a gruesome event" (Greenberg, Wortman, and Stone 1996, 591)), and were paired by the severity of "event-topic" as judged by independent evaluators. In each pair one person wrote about their real-trauma event, the other wrote about a similarly severe imaginary-trauma event (drawn from personal descriptions and police files). DIGRESSION: "IMAGINARY" TRAUMA Here the words "imaginary" and "real" become particularly confusing. Even within the discourse of re- search psychology, it seems perverse to call the second group "imaginary." The events were drawn from first-person descriptions of trauma and from police files. There seems no particular reason to describe the events themselves as more imaginary than the first person accounts written as a part of the study. Fortu- nately, in this context, the question of relative truth value is not the issue, nor the relationship of the texts to the initial events, but rather the different relationship of the writers to the material, and whether the outcomes of the study vary relative to that relationship. J3J3J3-PJ3J3J3 The results of this study for the real-trauma group were essentially what would have been ex- pected from the prior studies in this area. The results for the imaginary-trauma group, however, were startling, particularly in the area of health improvements at follow-up. In summary, while there were some specific differences between groups, the imaginary-trauma groups' results were far more similar to the real-trauma group than to the control group. For example, both trauma groups experienced "signifi- cantly more intense, fearful, angry, and depressed moods and less intense happy mood" immediately post- task. This seems reasonable, but it is also true for the imaginary-trauma group that "better health at fol- low-up was associated with perceiving the imaginary event as more traumatic, reporting more negative 113 mood at immediate posttest, and reporting less negative mood at longer term follow-up" (Greenberg, Wortman, and Stone 1996, 598). The researchers summarize that "participants who benefited the most from the imaginary-trauma intervention were those who became affectively immersed in the imaginary- trauma scenario, yet were able to modulate and limit these reactions such that relief and diminished nega- tive affective arousal were reported in subsequent weeks" (Greenberg, Wortman, and Stone 1996, 405). So not only did the participants resonate with someone else's trauma in ways similar to those writing about their own trauma, the strength of this resonance affected the outcomes. The trauma therapists I know borrow a metaphor from chemistry when they seek to "titrate" the effects of severe traumatic event, and the results above appear to be just such a titration of impact. Indeed, the researchers go on to suggest possible applications of this effect in therapy with persons whose trauma is so severe that they might not be yet able to confront that real trauma directly. These results are congruent with much of the research occurring about empathy in its various manifestations. If, as the study just above suggests, the task of writing about imaginary trauma has its greatest positive impact when it affects participants as (fit were real trauma writing, then surely some form of simulation seems to be an appropriate model. It is a conceptual leap, but a compelling one, to guess that the more rudimentary forms of simulation we've discussed are a part of or basis for far more elaborate kinds of simulation. The results of this study strongly suggest that, for people who have already experienced a significant trauma, empathic participation in someone else's trauma yields benefits re- markably similar to those gained by writing about one's own trauma. Within the arts, potential implications of this line of thinking the arts are myriad. To take one example, this sounds rather like the common view of catharsis, and indeed this idea has theoretical echoes across a wide variety fields, and specifically back into aesthetics, even ancient aesthetics. So, for exam- ple, Harold Skulsky might be right to state with respect to tragic catharsis in Aristotle that, "... the simple homeopathic theory of Weil and Bernays does not fit the facts" (Skulsky 1958, 157). However, from the perspective of neuroseience, he might be very precisely wrong about what actually happens in the experi- ence of a tragic play, wherein, through participation in imaginary trauma, at least some of the audience 114 might indeed experience something very like emotional homeopathy indeed. Even more to point, Ar i s - totle's instructions on this issue strongly align with that latter view: At the time when he is constructing his Plots, and engaged on the Diction in which they are worked out, the poet should remember (1) to put the actual scenes as far as possible before his eyes .... (2) As far as may be, too, the poet should even act his story with the very gestures of his personages. Given the same natural qualifications, he who feels the emotions to be described will be the most convincing; distress and anger, for instance, are portrayed most truthfully by one who is feeling them at the moment. (Aristotle 1954, 245, ch. 17) Based on the studies mentioned above, this poet should not only affect his audience more profoundly, but experience significantly improved health himself. Certainly, by writing about my own reactions to Bob and Jane, by encoding my own trauma into a poem, I allow myself these various benefits. I express my own current pain, but also perhaps allow some future benefit as well , confronting a vision of myself as an eighty-year-old, clutching my purse. It seems likely too that those who hear or read these poems benefit as well : a divorced woman reading about Katherine, an elderly woman, with her dementia-addled husband sitting nearby, reading about Jane. Bob, for now, doesn't benefit, i f he would, from writing his own poem, or from any direct identification he might have with mine. Instead, what Bob may need is a poem by someone who is not his daughter-in-law about someone who is not his wife. The studies just above suggest that the resonance desired is that of separate instruments, not identical ones: perhaps the subtler effect generated in my friend Norah's lute, hanging on the wall , when a jazz musician plays her piano while she is painting him. The musician is not trying to affect the lute, nor even necessarily aware of it, but the strings resonate softly nonetheless. 115 Biblical Translation On a late Sunday afternoon in September, Tom and I were trapped at a conference in Whistler, B.C.; the bridge at one end of town and the road at the other had both washed out, and Squamish below was flood- ing. Both tired, we were making lazy love, really more an affectionate precursor to a nap than any act of passion. Our curtains were open; we were up quite high and only the tops of some tall trees opened to our windows. The light kept changing, at one point shifting suddenly from dark to quite light without ever losing its strange sulphury-grey timbre, an apparent effect of the storm. Tom's face was very still, and for just a moment took on the aspect of a pale and beautiful effigy. This was not altogether unpleasant, but still a little eerie with its intimations of cathedral saints and tombs. A fleet second later, I saw in my mind's eye biblical words crossing my mental field of view, as if they were on transparent banners cross- ing an inner sky, and they brought with them a shimmer of associated images. The words moved into and across this space oddly, in such a way that they revealed only the Hebrew word in proper order, since He- brew reads from right to left. The entire episode lasted perhaps a second, and while richly experienced, was not charged with any particular strong emotion. Though I knew I would write about this image, try to tease out its associations, there was no sense of worry that I might lose either the image itself or the affect accompanying it so, fortunately enough un- der the circumstances, I did not feel a need to immediately write anything down. Later in the evening I began to describe what had happened in my journal, and when I got home, I began to shape the words. Biblical Translation Suddenly, after 26 years, your rapt face, in pause a scant hands-breadth from my own is for the first time a saint a script carved in ivory its eyes closed and a slight hieratic smile the autumn afternoon light translucing the bridge of the nose, the tip of an ear. In this moment before you enter me first the English "hovering" then the Hebrew and the Greek 116 "merachefet" "epephereto" float like banners from left to right across the sky of my mind: hovering (in that alien continuous tense) of the ruach elohim first breath of God over the face of the deep— and in the scant moment before that spirit breathed into Mary's womb the light that would remake the world. I would in time have shown Tom this poem, though I usually wait until a poem is near comple- tion to do so. In the end, he was coming with me to the Poetry Cafe, and I wanted him to know what I would be reading. It seemed to me that he might feel some embarrassment, despite my caveats about it being my experience, so I read the poem to him, though at the time the title was, "On the Strange Things Biblical Translation does to the Brain." While my need to tell Tom prior to the Cafe was motivated partially by an empathic worry re- garding his response, the genesis of this poem is less obviously tied into empathy. The immediate reso- nances were with words and translation, both of which I love. There was no Alzheimer's, no blindness or divorce on the horizon, either. Nonetheless, as will be seen, empathy was lurking, and not just in my aca- demically over-heated brain. A number of studies help us to focus on least one specific link between poetic writing and empa- thy. Any basic psychology text will describe ways in which the human brain activates differentially dur- ing different language tasks. However, a new level of sophistication has arisen with newer scan tech- niques such as positron emission tomography. Nichelli et al (2000) distinguish clearly between the recall of word lists, and the recall of narrative information. Another study focuses upon narrative—the reading of one of Aesop's fables—during which participants demonstrated clearly distinguishable patterns of brain activation for grammatical, semantic, and moral conditions (Nichelli et al. 1995). The fact that the brain activates differently during a variety of reading related tasks would make it likely that the links between different sorts of literature and empathy would vary, and indeed, Raymond 117 Mar has constructed a study showing differences on a number of scales of empathy between those who prefer fiction and those who prefer non-fiction (Mar 2004). Mar reviews literature demonstrating that Readers often comprehend a story by assuming the perspective of a character... and mentally rep- resent his or her emotions .... Moreover, these emotional experiences are equivalent in type and magnitude to those evoked by everyday events .... Considering how closely related real-world and narrative-processing appear to be, it should not be surprising that engagement with fictional narratives can result in changes of belief and attitude, much like those produced in the real-world .... (5) His study then goes on to develop a compelling link between the preference for fiction and a wide variety of scales for empathy which correlate well to both self- and other-assessment of empathy. Mar's study is ambiguous in some important ways, most especially in teasing out which charac- teristics distinguish fictional text from non-fiction text. He suggests the absence of "characters" in non- fiction (8), whereas clearly at least some non-fiction invokes the "characters" of persons such as historical figures. He does not go into any detail about which kinds of non-fiction are involved. The inferred dif- ferences, however, suggest that the two types of literature he is distinguishing differ both in how narrative they are, and in the level of engagement with characters, with fiction scoring higher on both. In any case, his claim is plausible that "Narratives are fundamentally social in nature in that almost all stories concern relationships between people; the ability to understand people's beliefs and emotions is thus likely to be necessary for story comprehension" (4). A further fascinating result was that deeper immersion in the fictions correlated with higher levels of personal empathy. Correlation is not causation; Mar suggests that only future research will establish whether, for example, urging children to experience narratives of certain kinds will affect their empathic skills. Yet there is a correlation between those who engage deeply in certain kinds of narrative and levels of empathy as measured broadly in a number of ways. Taking all we've discussed about simulation, imaginary trauma, and now the various research mentioned above, we should be able to grant that the reading of narratives about others provokes em- pathic responses within our own systems. This insight in turn helps to explain my complex feelings in showing the poems to people who helped stimulate their creation. My own empathic understanding rec- 118 ognizes that—regardless of my intellectual clarity about the nature of poems as constructed artefacts— their impact upon the people who read them will depend upon their level of identity, conscious and sub- conscious, with what is described. An added intensity attaches to "Janey's Purse" not only because the stakes seem high if Bob does identify with it, but also because the poem itself, during the editing process, lost the presence of the observer. Upon the advice of every writer who read it, "I" was taken out, leaving the poem without its own internal distancing mechanism. For now, I want to focus on one aspect of the production of poetry, in asking a question: Grant- ing the potential impact of narrative involving characters, why tell these four small narratives as poetry? A hint may exist in a body of literature from the field of linguistics. While there is a large overlap, on average the poet focuses far more upon the word-by-word process of writing and reading, as compared to the other levels of the text. Certainly, I do, when I am working on a poem as compared to a short story or essay. Every poet I know tests not just the overall flow of a piece, nor even the phrases, but each word for its aptness, working from phrase to word to phrase to poem to word to poem again. If narrative is a particular distinguishable mental activity (Bruner 1986; Gerrig 1998, and Nichelli 2000 above), and fiction and non-fiction have distinguishable effects, then what is it about language and empathy that is being invoked in the poet's acute attention to word and phrase? Zwaan asks us to con- sider a multiplicity of findings about language which will now sound somewhat familiar, including 1. Words activate brain regions that are close to or overlap with brain areas that are ac- tive during perception of or actions involving the words' referent .... Brain lesions in pa- tients with selective semantic impairments affect perceptual representations .... 2. Visual representations of object shape and orientation are routinely and immediately activated during word and sentence comprehension .... Visual-spatial information primes sentence processing and may interfere with comprehension .... 4. When comprehending language, people's eye and hand movements are consistent with perceiving or acting in the described situation. (Zwaan 2004b, 35-6) Zwaan proposes an overlapping three-part view of the processing of language consisting of activation, construal, and integration. Activation operates at the level of the word or morpheme, construal at the level of the clause, and integration proceeds toward connected discourse (Zwaan 2004b, 38). These proc- 119 esses are all occurring simultaneously, of course, during reading, but I would like to suggest that writers of longer prose narratives focus their efforts and attention on issues most closely bound up with the level of integration and discourse, plot and character for example. Poets on the whole, I think, tend to focus more upon the levels of activation and construal, hearing internally the individual words and their imme- diate connections with adjacent words more acutely than the writer of a novel, and usually working far harder during the editing process upon this level than the writer of a novel, or perhaps even a fable, could, given the differences in scale. Conversations with a number of published authors (including Nico la A i m e and L u c i Shaw) who write both prose and poetry so far confirm these generalizations. In his discussion of activation Zwaan cites a body of research supporting the idea that as we proc- ess individual words, and then phrases, we are experiencing moment by moment simulations within our minds, representing the referents of those words and phrases to ourselves in distinct neurological forms. In research of his own, for example, he likes to use the example of two sentences: The ranger saw the eagle in the nest, and The ranger saw the eagle in the sky. Despite the fact that grammatically only one word distinguishes the two sentences, it is clear that most readers would visualize the first eagle not only as in the nest, but with its wings closed and the second with its wings spread. In a larger experiment, he indeed demonstrated conclusively that participants envisioned the shapes of named objects mentally, at great speed, and without necessarily being aware of this process (Zwaan, Stanfield, and Yaxley 2002). In the case of these particular poems, and in this particular context, I experience being suspended between a desire to tell the story in as true a fashion as possible and a desire to engage those who would read or hear them. I certainly hope that the poems not only entertain and engage readers, but provide something of the larger impact suggested in the section about "Janey's Purse" above. However, in writ- ing, and especially in editing, these small stories as poems, I was, as a poet, was attending very closely to the associative power of the words and phrases contained therein. In working so intimately with the words, I was not Only listening for their resonances within me, but calling up some prospective sense, stored through a lifetime of developing a general theory of the human mind: a sense of how others might hear what I am writing. 120 In "Biblical Translation," however, an even more word-specific dynamic was at work. The words floating across my mind, and the visions they evoked, had as their referents material which tapped at least partially into work I had done at a theological graduate school, where I had loved Hebrew, but not especially liked Greek. Clearly some of the Greek had lodged in the crevices, however, and in order to work on the poem, I sought the help of Stefan Lukits, the young Swiss pastor of a German-speaking Lu- theran congregation here in town. I knew that, unlike me, he was a real scholar of Hebrew, and that he also knew Greek. We exchanged emails for some days, examining tense and number, looking at shades of meaning. Finally, the day of the Cafe, I sent him the poem, and received this response: From: Karen Cooper To: ' S t e f a n L u k i t s ' S u b j e c t : RE: poem Thank you, Karen, f o r l e t t i n g me p a r t a k e i n your poem. I t i s q u i t e w o n d e r f u l . I l i k e the way the r e a d e r s l o w l y and g e n t l y f i n d s out who the p r i n c i p a l c h a r a c t e r s a r e . There i s a l o t about the p r o c e s s o f r e a d i n g i n t h i s , u n t i l a t the end i t moves a b r u p t l y t o i n c a r n a t i o n — a h i n t t h a t r e a d i n g u l t i m a t e l y always p r o c e e d s towards i n c a r n a t i o n ? That t e x t s " e n t e r " us s e x u a l l y , i . e . i n the f l e s h ? R a b b i n i c thought, I t h i n k , has q u i t e a b i t t o say about the. c o n n e c t i o n between r e a d i n g s c r i p t u r e and k i s s i n g a l o v e r . I take o f f e n c e , o f co u r s e , t h a t you don't c a p i t a l i z e S p i r i t . So, your poem evokes what p o e t r y i s meant t o evoke: wonderment, t h i n k i n g , r e c o n - s i d e r i n g , o f f e n c e . . . Good l u c k a t the p o e t r y r e a d i n g . S t e f a n From: Karen Cooper To: ' S t e f a n L u k i t s ' S u b j e c t : RE: poem S t e f a n , Thanks f o r you comments. I v e r y much a p p r e c i a t e d them. And, l i k e many po e t s , I t h i n k the answers t o your q u e s t i o n s a r e a l l b o t h "Yes," and, "I am not t o t a l l y s u r e . " F o r me, the work and p l a y o f p o e t r y p r o c e e d from such a d i f f e r e n t p l a c e than even the work and p l a y o f r e a d i n g po- e t r y . So I t h i n k I might w e l l READ my poem as you do, y e t I can say w i t h a b s o l u t e c e r t a i n t y t h a t I d i d n ' t WRITE i t w i t h any o f these t h i n g s i n my c o n s c i o u s mind. Rather, a s p e c i f i c r e a l i n c i d e n t needed t o be i n - c o r p o r a t e d i n words, and the p l a y o f word and image and immediate memory i n my mind, the m u s i c a l i t y of the t e x t , and the .sheer d e l i g h t I always take i n t r a n s l a t i o n were i n t i m a t e l y i n t e r t w i n e d . T r a n s l a t i o n i s for. me such a DEEP p l e a s u r e — i t has i t s r o o t s v e r y near those o f a l l the o t h e r d e e p l y p l e a s u r a b l e t h i n g s , i n c l u d i n g o f cou r s e l o v i n g sex. So I 121 t h i n k , yes, t e x t s e n t e r us and emerge from us, i n e n - f l e s h e d form. They p l a y w i t h i n our b o d i e s , w i t h i n our b r a i n s . I t h i n k we are, i f we a l l o w o u r s e l v e s , i n a s t a t e o f p s y c h i c and s e n s u a l response b o t h when we r e a d and when we w r i t e , though I don't r e a l l y see the two—mind and body—as s e p a r a t e . So, even though t h e y were not i n my c o n s c i o u s mind, a l l o f the t h i n g s you say a r e t h i n g s I would h o l d as p r e - c o n c e p t i o n s , i f I may pun here, so t h e y would no doubt be a c t i v e i n some way as I wrote. N o n e t h e l e s s , the s e n s a t i o n i s one of d i s c o v e r i n g t h e s e t h i n g s a f t e r t h e y a r e w r i t - ten, r a t h e r than w r i t i n g down something I a l r e a d y know, f o r which I mere l y need t o f i n d the words. By the way, I t r i e d the poem w i t h " S p i r i t " c a p i t a l i z e d — I a c t u a l l y hadn't thought o f i t u n t i l you wrote. But f o r some reason, a t the i n - t u i t i v e l e v e l , I l i k e i t b e t t e r t h i s way. I t f e e l s l i k e i t has some- t h i n g t o do w i t h the d i s t a n c e I impose e a r l y , when I use " i t s " i n s t e a d of "your". Not sure y e t why, but i t w i l l p r o b a b l y make i t s e l f c l e a r t o me . kc Stefan's reaction, though brief, provoked a series of strong reactions in addition to those I in- cluded in my email to him. In particular, it felt like he had tuned into—had somehow intuited or em- pathically resonated with—a larger context for the poem. The links between incarnation and sex, though I had never discussed these things with him, nor thought consciously about them while writing and edit- ing the poem, nonetheless betrayed a whole inner world. It is a world which I would quite likely have been embarrassed to articulate directly, especially in its seeming religiosity, yet there it was, revealing itself to me in an unguarded moment. Quite aside from any other response, it reminded me that the work I am here doing—exploring the deep importance of narratives—is confirmed in my own case, where the stories which surround my adult spiritual practice have invaded me and woven a web of associations which can emerge at the oddest times. My other thoughts included the fact that I was raised in a Gnostic cult where we were enjoined to "Wear our bodies like clothes, which can be changed at any moment," and where much of the suffering inflicted upon me was intended for my good—in all seriousness to help me achieve that state of transcen- dent detachment. Yet adult sex undercut the success of those attempts at disembodiment. It was full of gifts—not just the joy of pleasing my husband and the empathic participation in his more-naturally em- 122 bodied delight, not just the shocking production of children who were somehow nourished into viable being by my body, but, as another friend of mine, also terribly traumatized in childhood, has put it for dissociated people, there is "the odd, odd grace of sex," in which the disjoined parts of me seem to fuse. Now, under a new understanding and speaking bodily, I would say that sex was just so damned much fun that my entire body, including my poor overworked dissociative brain, found a way to make it happen. Equally, I can say that in early adulthood loving adult sex was one of only two places where I was rejoined, or so it seemed at the time. The other was the liturgical worship in the Anglican Church, where I located my spiritual practice from the age of nineteen. Somehow, in each context, I was being re- incarnated, though not because I was not already carnal; one of the nice ironies of the shift in my point of view is that I now see that my prior Gnostic disembodiment was not a state of mind, but a state of body. So these two loci, sex and liturgy, were rather in the form of a flash, a brief vision well in advance of any articulated spiritual or intellectual understanding, of the fact that I was a single unified being. The way Stefan sees the level of "reading" in the poem also ties into my failure to fall in with an entirely despairing view of the nature of language. I would indeed say that "texts 'enter' us sexually, i.e. in the flesh," that somehow in writing a poem I am making it possible for the reader to resonate physically to the music of my experience, and in the case of deeply empathetic poems about others, to resonate in response to their experience, to have their own experience refracted through my mirrored images, sound- scapes, and responses to others. The women in my reading group do not know "exactly how it feels." This is impossible. Yet they have in some way asked, "What if this happened to me?" and felt the as if, experienced in their flesh something akin to what I would have felt in mine. Stefan's reflections prompted in me a deeper reflection upon the poem, and the incident which provoked it, and upon the odd fact, noted but not really reflected upon, that in this arena of loving sex, the most embodied and least academic in my ongoing adult life, my relaxed mind presented me with words in a visual form, pictures of words presented almost as visual bodies without their attached meanings, and then with the narrative spiritual associations they conjured up. In responding empathically, Stefan re- 123 vealed to me something of the larger somewhat ironical and paradoxical interconnectedness of my own thought processes. His reflections also prompt thought on metaphors—mirroring in "Duane and Anne," resonance in "Bob's Janey." The musical metaphors have been until now passive ones—responding to the strings of a piano being tuned. But the interaction between Stefan and me, poet and reader mutually influencing each other, evokes more the actual playing of a duet upon the two instruments. Or better a duet between two lutes, for we are both, after all human and both academics (though the image is an obvious one—too ob- vious to make a decent poem, at least in my hands). This obvious contrapuntal aspect suggests the con- scious analogical processes of empathy which have not been at all the focus of this chapter. The genuine aptness of the metaphor for this current chapter is that it includes both the unintentional harmonics, the overtones and undertones animating the strings which are not being actively played. A single note played upon a lute moves a string on the second instrument, more softly, which resonates in turn within a differ- ent string on the first lute, though now too softly to be audibly heard. In the midst of any complex piece of music there are entire unwritten and even un-noticed chords occurring on strings both unplayed and played which nonetheless enter our ears, which send muted but real flashes of electro-chemical energy across our synapses, and which colour vitally the experience of the music. The metaphor breaks down, however, in a way which relates back to the differences in definitions of empathy. The attempt to make meaning explicit, with its allied beliefs in our ability to more or less fully comprehend, is still present in much academic writing on empathy, especially in the sciences, and this long exposition itself most likely errs in that direction. Yet the paradoxically explicit point of much of the cited research, is that—in the original experiences which motivated these poems, in the nuances of words and their associations, in the interactions with the people whose behaviours were the focus of those words, in the reading, and in the hearing, and in receiving back the complex responses of others, and in responding in turn to them—the resonances of overtones and undertones may well play a larger role than the willed explicit notes. My interchanges with Stefan suggest, however, that this is only one side, or only one aspect, of the questions around the roles of passive reaction and agency. CASE STUDY II: O N GENTLY FREEZING 125 O n S e n d i n g O u t O u r K i d s A g a i n George M c Whirter "Sugar and spite make everything night." (A plea for an end to child sacrifice to the gods, for Karen Cooper) W h y should we dress them up and send them out on Sunday or any other day? W h y should we lay the inverted barnacles o f our ch i ldren ' s ears on the rock o f ages to be smashed? B e i t the sober grey serge of Presbyterian granite. O r Jesuit obsidian. O r pure K o r a n i c chalk, made f rom the snow of protozoa i n the Persian G u l f . O r basalt that seeps— to m y Uls te r eye— l ike O ' N e i l ' s b l o o d into the s l i m strands o f Strangford L o u g h , as rag-endy as the wris t he slashed of f and the hand he f lung l i ke a son ahead o f h i m to touch shore first, te l l ing a l l o f his immor ta l w i l l to w i n over a Scott ish giant i n this wee wager o f an ocean race. B u t what can the astonished gashes o f our chi ldren ' s mouths report, but bur ia l? The gags are these gross convuls ions o f folded stone that resemble us i n bed, w h i c h must p lay their hard copulat ions backwards at minus ten b i l l i o n motions to the moment to get hot w i th the engendering again. T h e smi le crossing our chi ldren ' s faces is the cosmic splash, the hit m o v i e we have wai ted a l l o f t ime for at the box-off ice , the blockbuster i n the H o l l y w o o d on B ro a dwa y . These d imp led chins are not made to be our animated glyphs, our impertinent messages writ ten i n their infant sk in for G o d , but G o d ' s kisses turned into l ips that wet our cheeks. W a d d l i n g , fa l l ing , gasping, snuffl ing, they come asking us to w ipe their noses, change their sodden socks, un -mummify them f rom their muddy-buddies . Le t us get up off our asses and our knees. F i n d baby B u d d h a , Jesus and M o h a m m e d their Huggies . Stop stuffing their genitals w i th gelignite, sending them out into the street, to k n o c k on our neighbours ' doors, begging for a fistful o f poisoned H a l l o w e e n candies to make their v i s i t wor thwhi le . 127 While at my friend Norah's house for coffee some years ago, I picked up the latest issue of Na- tional Geographic from her countertop. The cover appeared to depict a doll with a golden face, a bright artefact set against a black background. Bold, white words in inch-high type—"INCA SACRIFICE"— caught my attention next, then immediately above and leading into that line, and in somewhat smaller red type, "Discovered High in the Andes—Haunting Remains of an .... " I opened to the page indicated by a small number and flipped through the article, scanning the photographs, catching the large title captions and some of the smaller captions. The image on the title page was a head shot, well lit; the next two pages showed an array of artefacts, some gold, and one larger one which looked like another doll. The cover image, it became clear, was a doll, but the head shot and larger artefacts were the bodies of chil- dren. As I continued, I felt the magnetic fascination of the dead, but also confusion. I found the images beautiful, even seductive, but that beauty confounded my emotions of horror and disgust about these dead children, who had been sacrificed. I also experienced a visual confusion about the scale of the objects in the photographs. I borrowed the magazine and later that day read the article in detail, moving rapidly from indignation to anger (Reinhard and Maria Stenzel 1999), though it took me some time to sort through what aspects of the article were contributing to that anger. Alongside these strong emotions ran a further strand of confusion, now not so much around the photographs or the text, but around my reactions: why, or perhaps how, was I indignant about this article? A series of questions took shape: "Given the apparent cultural sensitivity of the dig itself and the result- ing article, why did I still believe something was fundamentally wrong?" "What was there about an ar- chaeological dig and the 500-year-old objects it unearthed which carried any current ethical weight at all?" And finally, "What did I want—what would / have changed?" This Case Study explores these questions, focussing throughout upon the unearthed bodies. Fol- lowing a process similar to that of the "average" National Geographic reader, we'll flip through the im- ages (especially those of the victims), observing their overall impact, namely that the sacrificial nature of the victims is downplayed in favour of a presentation of their bodies as beautiful and beautified artefacts. Far from countering this effect, the captions, titles, and body text act to further obscure any unpleasant or 128 traumatic implications. Moreover, the descriptions and explanations offered within the body text work actively to justify the original events as understood by the author. Discourses of cultural sensitivity and ethnographic description provide potentially positive expla- nations for the form of this article. Other vectors, including the professional and material, suggest less benign influences. An alternative or addition to these explanatory ideas arises from definitions of denial and repression emerging from cognitive and analytic psychology. They prove to be powerful descriptive and explanatory tools. The ethical relevance of this definitional choice leads in turn to the ongoing defini- tional problems surrounding religious human sacrifice—these issues plausibly arise at least in part from elisions and denials which support a description in which only others commit this type of sacrifice. This analysis in turn supports a broadening application of both denial and sacrifice to current social and politi- cal realities. Finally, in answer to the question, "What do I want?" I suggest visual and textual alternatives, based in the same events and objects, which would produce an article much less prone to obfuscation, and far more to self-examination and personal engagement. S o m e P o i n t s abou t P h o t o g r a p h s a n d T e x t i n National Geographic Edmundo Desnoes suggests that "The analysis or contemplation of photographs as objects in themselves, independent of their context, outside the system of social circulation, is an illusion, a methodological trap" (1995, 311). The photographs in National Geographic are often luscious, and can certainly attract contemplation as objects in themselves. However, material aspects of the production of photographs for National Geographic Magazine articles and the ways in which those articles are typically read both argue for the primacy of photography in the realms of production and consumption. 53% of readers look only at photographs and their captions; most of the remainder read the body text only after doing so (Lutz and Collins 1993, 65). Perhaps for this reason, the visual layout of National Geographic articles, including the photographs, titles and captions, is accomplished with some reference to the writer, photographer, and relevant experts (79), but often with "relatively little contact between the writer and photographer" after 129 the initial meetings to assign the story, granting to the photographers and layout artists, and thereby to the photographs, a particular freedom and stature (55). I indeed experienced this article in the usual order, noting pictures and captions first, the body of the article after. However, in the case of this article, there is a seamless quality to the textual treatment of this material in the titles and captions, and within the article body text, wherein they support each other to a remarkable degree in tone and seeming intent. In the sections below, therefore the articles, captions, and text will all be treated together under the headings of several themes. DIGRESSION: W H O DOES W H A T IN THE ARTICLE? About the body text of the article, I can say, "Rienhard claims JC ." About the photographs, I could say, "Stenzel has framed the shot in y way." However, "the article as a whole acts to z, " suggests a level of agency I'm not willing to grant to this particular artifact of human production. Still this is the only com- pact way to describe the action or potential result of the work of the horde of anonymous caption writers, layout artists, and editors who are responsible for the final form of this article. J2J3J3J3J3J3J3J3 T h e T reasu re s A majority of both the text and the images in this article can be meaningfully grouped under several dis- courses or themes: the idea of treasure, the concept of the explorer, ethnographic texts, and the admixture of other discourses within the ethnographic texts. Much theorizing around photographs has to do with their special relationship to reality. From at least Walter Benjamin forward, there is a recognition that the photograph's seemingly artless portrayal of reality grants it a particular power, though already in Benjamin the "authenticity" of the reproduction is compromised by its complex relationship to "the original" (Benjamin 1968, 220-224). Barthes describes photographs variously as pure denotation (1961, 18) or as a first order of signification (1956, 101-2). Desnoes insists that this special relationship to reality is itself real, that "the existence of the photographic The limitation of "man" from "humans in general" to "male hu- mans" has a consequence I don't enjoy in my reading of older texts of great value. While the shift to gender neutral language is, on the whole, a great improvement, and while disruption can be a very good thing, under the influence of newer texts, I am ever less able to read older texts, even those intended to reflect upon the human condition in general, without a momentary and disruptive act of translation back into that older mode. 130 camera allows man's [sic] intervention to be re- duced to a minimum" (1995, 310). Each of these thinkers appears to be describing both an aspect of photography, which distinguishes it from painting or sculpture, while at the same time acknowledging a degree of artifice. Perhaps more critical to this cur- rent discussion is that most of us tend tacitly to assume this directness of representation, a minimal artistic distance between the object of the photograph and the photograph itself, and as a result, we grant photog- raphy a particular authority which can then be used or misused by those who frame and present the pho- tographs to us, depending on context, captions, and audience. The photographs for this article inhabit two different visual universes, artfully composed spreads and shots in a more documentary or journalistic vein. The spreads comprise seven large compositions filling eleven pages counting the cover, out of twenty-one pages all told, again including the cover. The front cover sets the tone. The cover of any issue of National Geographic is instantly recognizable. While certain details of font and placement have changed with time, the strong yellow frame has not. The text to the left immediately signals two primary aspects of National Geographic's approach to this topic: "Discovered High in the Andes" highlights the aspect of adventure (which we'll examine shortly), while "Haunting Remains" evokes the dead bodies. But a striking form against a dark background dominates the space inside the frame: the upper chest, face, hair, and head-dress of a figure, turned and angled slightly to one side. At first glance, given a certain familiarity with Egyptian archaeology, this form could be a mummy with a golden face mask, but something about the scale doesn't work; the threads in the fab- ric are too large, and despite the "Inca Sacrifice" caption below the face, I see "doll" right away. The im- age itself is very beautiful. At the top, delicate feathers flare like a halo. A black coil of hair rises above the gold mask to a gold headpiece with a small coral-coloured ornament. I read the face as male, sym- metrical; the earlobes have huge holes in them, reminiscent of those I've seen in other National Geo- graphic pages of African women who have deliberately stretched their lobes through inserting larger and larger items. Around the neck is a sort of gold and red muffler, and below that the top of a natural fibre 131 garment. The lighting is exquisitely filtered, bringing out the warmth of the blacks, golds, reds. The golden face is lit from two wide angles to the right and left, and bright highlights mark the eyes, nose, and one side of the mouth. The next image for this article (37), which fills the entire right page of the opening spread, is the head shot in profile of an Incan mummy. The hair and spun garment are eerily like those of the cover doll. The face looks like that of an old woman, dry and wrinkled, not dead but asleep. Her hair curves back around her cheek and then under her chin. A small piece of something green adheres just below her left nostril, which at first glance looks a little like dried mucus, but not quite. The lighting is amber from the front, filling the face and garments with warmth, but clear and white from behind, highlighting the body's black braided hair. While the similarities in construction between the cover and this first spread suggest links be- tween human bodies and dolls, the next composition (38) explicitly equates them at the visual level. At the top left is a necklace—it looks like some kind of shell—then a title and block of text. Across the bot- tom of the page are arrayed a series of small artefacts: two small red stone animals, one larger black one, and two small human-like figures, one of which is clearly the same as the one on the cover. Finishing the line is what again looks like a rag doll, whose image begins on the left page, and fills the right. The fig- ure is seated; it looks flopped, with its head on its knees, its hands at its side. This time, however, the scale seems wrong in the other direction—the details indicating that the artefact is too large to be a doll—and sure enough the text tells us that this is an eight-year-old boy, though this fact is indeterminable from the image as presented to us. The lighting from the right, the front this time, again is white, while the lighting from the left is more gold. The layout is striking, with the dominant rich coral reds carrying the eye in an arc through the objects and around the text. A touch of gold also appears in each assemblage as well, and is emphasized in the colours of the text. The body in the next spread (48), on the left page, is less obscure. The face is charred, and the form looks like a girl child. The burning shines like charred barbeque in the strong light. The lighting of the body is again similar to that of the preceding images, warmer to the left, and brighter to the right. A 132 title and body of text run across the top of the right page. Below the text is a bag covered in bright cop- pery red feathers, but in a scale which renders the bag almost as large on the page as the girl's body, once again visually equating the human and non-human artefacts. The next two spreads (50-1, 52-3) are also of artefacts: a stunning tunic, shoes, a statue. Finally, the article closes with a spread (54-5) dominated by the first body, a full image this time. She looks as if she is reclining against a wall, her knees crossed, her head bowed. She looks even more as if she is asleep. The lighting again warms her from the front, highlights her beautiful hair from behind. She is clearly older than the other two children, and somehow we know she's bigger. Desnoes describes the least deceitful photographs as those which occur in a political paper, like Granma, "the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party," because we understand the context: that "these everyday images correspond to a well-defined, consciously motivated social plan" (1995, 315). The photographs he mentions from Granma, can in this sense be described as "frank" (Barthes 1964, 33). While Desnoes is referring, for example, to documentary photographs of workers in fields, Barthes' label applies as well to advertising. These National Geographic compositions openly reveal themselves as designed. The images in all of them are arranged against black backgrounds, and the lighting effects, while subtle, are not hidden, and in fact are quite consistent from one image to another. Given the differences in scale, some digital or other manipulation has clearly occurred. When Barthes states the following, he takes a liberty I am un- willing to take: "... In advertising the signification of the image is undoubtedly intentional; the signifieds of the advertising message are formed a priori by certain attributes of the product and these signifieds have to be transmitted as clearly as possible" (33). I am not willing to assign conscious intention to the layout artists; however, the most obvious impression is that no substantial formal distinction is made be- tween the children's bodies and the other artefacts displayed. In fact, from the cover and right through the spreads, the bodies are laid out in such a way as to emphasize their resemblance to the other items shown. The dramatic lighting, bright and always oblique, is similar. The titles are all in a medium terra cotta, the smaller texts are all in a pale gold, further emphasizing the warm tones of both types of images. The bod- 133 ies are scaled down far more than the artefacts; at no time are they represented together in the same scale. When they occur on the same page, they are in a line, or side by side. The larger visual structure of the article, with its intermixing of the non-human and human remains, emphasises the identity between the objects. If I were intentionally trying to advertise this supposed identity, I could hardly do better. Despite their openly designed nature, however, these spreads work far more actively than Barthes' advertising poster of pasta and sauce to hide certain aspects of the reality of even the photograph shoot itself. With respect to the final spread, we learn that the larger girl had an ornate head-dress and beautiful tunic, and that she has been unwrapped at some point at least enough to show her hands (45), which are not visible in the photos of her. The chronology in the text makes it plain that we are seeing this figure after these events, so she has been re-covered. We also know that the bodies have had their tissues sampled and their organs scanned (50). Her hair falls forward, partially obscuring her left eye; it has been arranged differently for this photograph than for the one on the title page. One can't help imag- ining the photographer or an assistant trying out various effects with the braided tresses. The overall im- pact is a realization not just that these images are carefully placed, lighted, and primped (which is not hid- den by the layout of the piece) but a recognition of other possibilities, of harsher light perhaps, or of the bodies uncovered or naked. These bodies, however, are not just any artefacts. The framing of each item in the spreads by its black background, the lighting, and the emphasis on gold tones all suggest an aesthetic of the precious. Each of these aspects is reminiscent of the presentation of very precious objects in a museum or at an ex- pensive jeweller's shop. The bodies, no less than the dolls and figurines and feather bags, are treasures. Image captions form a special liminal category of text in their tight attachment to specific photo- graphs. In "The Photographic Message," Barthes describes "an important historical reversal" with respect to the press photo captions by which "the image no longer illustrates the words; it is now the words which, structurally, are parasitic on the image .... The reversal is at a cost: in the traditional modes of illustration the image functioned as an episodic return to the denotation from a principle message (the 134 text) which was experienced as connoted since, precisely, it needed an illustration... " (1961, 25). Given that the production of National Geographic articles and the average National Geographic reader's proc- esses both privilege the images, Barthes' descriptions of captioning can more properly be applied to the compound whole of all the texts of this article. Under this description, National Geographic has carried the process of making text dependent upon or at least subservient to, photography even further. Still, ac- cording to Barthes, this text has power; it acts to "anchor" the meaning of the image, which otherwise can "float" endlessly, since "all images are polysemous; they imply, underlying their signifiers, a 'floating chain of signifieds', the reader able to choose some and ignore others"(1964, 33). This anchoring is re- pressive and ideological, it limits the possible interpretations of the given image, and "remote controls" the reader "towards a meaning chosen in advance" (1964, 40). With respect to the bodies and the other artefacts in this article, the textual cues emphasize the view of these bodies as artefacts of high value. The caption leading down word by word into the title on the first page of the article tells us: At/22,000/feet/Children/of/Inca/Sacrifice/Found/Frozen/in/Time. "Frozen in Time" is in larger type, and is in fact the title of the article. "22,000 feet" suggests the rigours of exploration, but the text below the title suggests again the treasured aspect in the view of these bodies. "Five Centuries after Inca Priests sacrificed three children on a peak in Argentina, archaeologists find them frozen to near perfection, accompanied by breathtaking textiles and artefacts" (title and caption 36). The bodies and the artefacts are lumped together in this subtitle. But these objects, bodies or dolls or feather bags, not just historical artefacts, they are treasures. The children are frozen "to perfection"; the artefacts are "breathtaking." The textual aspect of the story expresses the treasure-like quality of all the artefacts, with the hu- man bodies as their acme. The captions for the small boy and small girl further this impression in a con- centrated way, as they move seamlessly from issues of relevance to the children or their physical bod- ies—he may have been volunteered by his parents, or may have been taken from them, she still smells of charred flesh from a lightning strike—into descriptions of the artefacts which accompanied them. The 135 text beside the small boy allows that, "Richly wrapped Inca child sacrifices were more than just gifts to the god. They were ambassadors... " (caption 38), or to put this in reverse, a richly wrapped sacrificed child is a treasured gift to the gods, as well as an ambassador. The body text also emphasizes the pre- cious nature of these bodies. The doll-like figures in gold and stone "increased by half the world's known collection of clothed Inca statues" (caption 52), but the two female mummies are even more precious, since they were only the second and third found, thereby tripling the world store of "well-preserved Inca female mumm[ies]" (43). Two of the bodies exhibit the value of unmarred works of art, since they are, as mentioned, "frozen to near perfection" (title page caption 36), and the small boy's arms, hands and feet are in "excellent condition" (40). By contrast, the author experiences "dismay" when he realizes that the third mummy is not so intact, "the outer covering was charred: The mummy had been struck by a lighten- ing bolt" (46). Indeed, this mummy's "ear, shoulder, and chest" have been "marred" and "she still smells of charred flesh." Still, the rest of her body is in "excellent condition" (caption 49). In short, "[The au- thor] doubt[s] that more perfectly preserved mummies will ever be found." With each new body, the au- thor "would experience the pulse quickening that comes with a landmark discovery" (41), in addition to which he felt a sense of relief (with the first mummy, the little boy), because, by contrast, an earlier find had yielded a mummy with its head blown off by "treasure hunters" (42-3). The texts predominantly serve in this case specifically to further de-nature these bodies as dead bodies of children, rather than to make explicit their physical nature. This process, even in Barthes' de- scription, is circular rather than one way. While the text works to control the meaning of a photo, the photo also "innocents" the text, since a caption "appears to duplicate the image." The text thereby par- ticipates in the "iconographic" status of the photo with all the implications of frankness of denotation mentioned above (1961, 26). Nonetheless, Barthes points out that the shift in the direction of denotation leads to a situation whereby "it is not the image which comes to elucidate or 'realize' the text, but the lat- ter which comes to sublimate, patheticize or rationalize the image" (1961, 25), all descriptions which ap- ply to this article. The face of a child, with the pacifying drugs still below her nose, is sublimated under "frozen to near perfection." If "Go Gently" doesn't patheticize a sacrificed child's body, nothing does. 136 And even the dismaying damage to one of the precious artefacts—the girl stricken by lightning—is ra- tionalized by the easier access it gives us to her tissues. The "innocenting" of the photographs by the text is further aided by the style of the text. Caption writers are expected to produce lively, literate, and concise copy aimed at readers of high- school level. They avoid both "academic" writing and highly informal constructions. The Geo- graphic captioning style is distinctive, we were told, in comparison with the typically brief art photography captions. The Geographic caption is expansive, allowing for the inclusion of much information, and its style is often lyrical, even ornate. (Lutz and Collins 1993, 79-80) The captions for this article are indeed expansive, and often lyrical. The positioning of the language, nei- ther too academic, nor too common, lends a sort of dignified common language air to the texts. They read something like a passionate high school teacher's discourse on a topic of particular interest. We can trust this discourse; it isn't speaking over our heads, but the information, while not technical, is still reliable. Without assigning intent, I can yet assert that the captions and other texts do act with some power in the direction of anchoring the message of these spreads, controlling us away from viewing these bodies as victims, dead children killed as sacrifices, and toward a vision of them as precious artefacts, treasures from a hard won trove. If we are successfully guided away from seeing the children's bodies as once-living human bod- ies like our own, the empathy we have is that same empathy we have toward a sculpture or painting. We might have the mental echo of the bodily sensation of sleeping with our head on our drawn up knees, for example. However, this is a sensation denuded of other echoing emotion. And the presentation of these children, in text and image, is such that we might feel less of any empathy at all, but rather more of fasci- nation, or interest, or desire, or whatever we might tend to feel toward treasures in general. T h e E x p l o r e r s If the artefacts, including the bodies, are treasures, those who seek them out are portrayed in both pictures and text as adventurers and explorers. The photographic narrative of this particular exploration is told in the documentary photographs which share the run of the body text, and appear more journalistic in tone. All appear to be shot with natural light, though one is a time lapse image. Most are apparently un- 137 posed. These photographs, all appear, in the Barthes-ian sense, to tell "frankly" a particular story of an exploration, a grand adventure. This focus on adventure is a defining characteristic of National Geo- graphic. Gero and Root (1996, 79-80) point to the tendency of articles in National Geographic to focus not upon the archaeology, but upon the archaeologist as explorer: "The editorial emphasis is on the quest: the quest in which one must be first, and for which one must traverse great distances... " (Gero and Root 1996, 539-40). Every documentary photograph in this section includes either the men* themselves or their tents or vehicles. They are informational in style, and the story they tell is of the exploration, the adventure, the discovery. "Most of the photos are clearly of men. While a female archaeologist is mentioned in the text, she does not seem to appear in any of the photos. These are professionals: delicately brushing pebbles away from an artefact (40), measuring carefully with a bright yellow tape (twice) (41, 45). These are people at work: pushing a truck (43), lifting a bucket half-full of rock (45), scrambling over bigger rocks (43). Most especially, this is a hostile environment; every photograph makes plain that we are seeing a high cold location, if not by showing the snow and rocks (40, 42,43,45, 47) then through the clothing the men are wearing (thick down jackets while pushing a truck (43), jackets and hats inside their tent (44)). Their tents are pitched by a partially frozen pond on a barren height (44). These men will do anything: one of them is being lowered head first into a hole (46). Only one of these photographs has a clear picture of a mummy (47). The un-posed, more natural appear- ance of these photographs contributes strongly to the sense that they are frank, indeed, and thereby closer in some way to reality. This sense that photographs present at least an analogue of reality leads to particular ways of in- terpreting them which have the paradoxical effect of removing them from especially their historical situ- atedness with its political implications. As a result, the "reader's argumentativeness cedes to the organ- ismic pleasure afforded by the aesthetic 'rightness' or well-formedness (not necessarily formal) of the image" (Rosier 2003, 268). This accession to the sense of reality makes it even harder to argue with the photographs, and with the texts which accompany them, and are innocented by them. 138 Certainly, aspects of the production of these photographs are screened from the reader. The pres- ence of the photographer, Maria Stenzel, is barely acknowledged. She is merely credited in the table of contents and on the title page of the article, and mentioned as a frequent contributor in the tiny print foot- note on the first page of text. Clearly she underwent the same rigours as the rest of the team, and she must have faced significant technical difficulties in the harsh cold of the site, and again in photographing the frozen bodies in the lab, yet her part in the story is otherwise unmentioned, even in the captions. D I G R E S S I O N : S U P P R E S S I N G T H E E X I S T E N C E O F P H O T O G R A P H E R S This failure to take much notice of the photographer appears standard in National Geographic. One of Ms. Stenzel's photos from this article was included in a Special Members' Edition of the magazine, Na- tional Geographic: 100Best Pictures (Stenzel 1999, 115). The introduction to the book lauds the "... women and men who have journeyed virtually everywhere in the world to bring back photographic im- ages for our members," recognizing that this entails, "sometimes risking their lives [or] suffering injuries from shrapnel to shark bites... " (Special member's edition: 100 best pictures 2001, 5). However, the title page of the relevant section, "The Seekers," and the subtitle, "Going to Extremes," turn the attention back to the adventurous explorer even to the exclusion of the supposed heroes of this particular book, the pho- tographers. The Introduction to this section, too, while it mentions the photographers, focuses upon the explorers. I had to think of, and then look for, the photographers' credits. Their names are listed at the bottom of each page, in small type below a line. There are twenty-four photographs in this section, six- teen of which are in situations related to this photo shoot by exposure or danger or difficulty. For only two of them are the photographers mentioned in the captions, while for twelve, the explorer or expedition director are mentioned in the captions. True to National Geographic form, Johan Reinhardt, not Maria Stenzel, is the one mentioned in the caption accompanying Ms. Stenzel's photograph. J3J3J3J3J3J3J3J3 About this photograph-dominated article with its innocented text, I find I definitely want to argue. In the quote near the end of the section above, Johan Reinhardt makes an interesting distinction. While he views the artefacts, including the bodies, as treasures, and he clearly hunts them, he equally clearly is 139 NOT a "treasure hunter." But in what does his exclusion from this category consist? Perhaps it is a mat- ter of degree, or process. He doesn't directly sell the pieces; they do wind up in museums, or freezers; he may have some anthropological interest in the Inca. But what motives might drive others to seek mum- mies at these dangerously high altitudes? Extreme poverty, perhaps, and the chance to sell artefacts to Western treasure collectors. Without those collectors, and I know at least one, there would be no market at all for the goods, other than the national governments who simply can't afford to pay market prices. Reinhard's expedition appears very well-equipped. Are the local seekers well-funded, well-equipped, their safety in the circumstances similar to his? Reinhard is hunting treasured artefacts, he is being paid, and he is gaining fame. His treatment of the artefacts alone, including the bodies, as treasures, fits seamlessly with the treatment of the digging team, and especially of the author himself, as a treasure hunter. If this were a movie, he'd be Indiana Jones, the academic who explores for treasures of unspeakable value, and, by the way, religious import. Which suggestion points to a further This emphasis on adventure and discovery is by no means exclusive to National Geographic Magazine. Archaeology ("A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America") has at the very top of its front cover, as a banner above its title: "ADVENTURE • DISCOVERY • CULTURE • HISTORY • TRAVEL" (Archaeology 2003, cover, emphasis mine) significant omission: the author's description in this issue runs as follows: "Anthropologist Johan Reinhard is an explorer-in-residence at National Geographic." Nowhere in this issue of the maga- zine does one find a mention that he is Doctor Reinhard, a Ph.D. anthropologist with numerous academic institutional connections, whose current research focuses on "sacred beliefs and cultural practices of mountain peoples" (Reinhard 2002). These exclusions are the more noteworthy since their inclusion would presumably lend credence to the extensive theorizing by Dr. Reinhard about the beliefs and prac- tices relevant to this site. But Reinhard's status as an academic is at best irrelevant to his image as explorer, and at worst a hindrance. In common thought, does "academic" conjure up an explorer, or the nerd at a desk my road- crew co-workers used to assume, who had never done a hard day's work? "Photographer," rings of the contemporary and the technical. "Explorers" aren't, or aren't primarily, academic or technical. And even 140 when someone is on an adventure, seeking treasure, he is also not, at least in National Geographic, a treasure hunter, but an explorer only. Even with respect to the religiously sacrificed children, the most apparently frank description in both the photographs and the text is a chronological documentary story of their bodies' discovery. In this respect, the captions for the body text photographs, and the body text around the discovery of the mum- mies, have a similar feel to the body text photographs themselves. The photos with their captions appear to be roughly chronological and are informational, describing the course of the exploration, clarifying the activity: the young man is being lowered to retrieve a mummy from an "especially tight spot" (46) ; the mummy is being wrapped with dry ice (47). But this documentary story has a particular flavour. It is the story of adventure, exploration and discovery. More specifically it reads like a treasure hunt in austere and trying lands. Hence it especially emphasises the difficulties encountered by the explorers. Text, captions, and a labelled photograph all further emphasize the extreme height ("Discovered High in the Andes" (cover), "at 22,000" (Table of Contents)), the lengthy climb (15), the difficulties in working at high altitudes ("Digging takes a titanic effort, but even taking notes is hard at 22,000 feet" (caption 49), "As we worked, our fingertips became raw" (43, pullout text at top of page)), the risks ("One member of the group developed life-threatening pulmonary and cerebral edema. Only a hurried descent to a much lower level saved him" (44)). The story of this quest is indeed an exciting one of difficulties overcome, fortitude shown, a bright treasure recovered, for the good of all the living who are concerned. As we travel through this quest we are invited by text and image to empathize with the explorers, and especially with Dr. Reinhard during his climb and "13 arduous days on the summit" (43). We can feel the excitement at the first hint of success, the worry for our colleague with cerebral edema. We can sense in our mind's muscle the ex- ertion of hiking up the hill or what it's like to dangle upside down, with hands grasping our ankles. We can sense on our mind's skin the dry stinging cold when the "windchill temperature dropped to minus 35°" (45). 141 These extreme difficulties do generate one note of empathy with the Inca, but it is with the sacri- ficers only: "The conditions only increased my respect for what the Inca had accomplished—not only digging the graves but actually building structures more than four miles up... " (45). However, within this particular situation, that empathy is not allowed to co-exist with empathy for the dead children, but rather is often accomplished at the expense of the possibility of feeling their anxiety or anticipation, feeling on our mind's skin the cold as they hiked up the mountain, or in our mind's muscle the increasing torpor un- der the onset of drugs. The end result is that the bodies of these children, already equated with treasured artefacts, are further denatured, or, at a minimum, again shifted in their import. Even in the more docu- mentary discourse of the journalistic photographs and the related texts, the children's bodies do not tell a story about their own real circumstances, past or present, but rather about the difficulties overcome, first by their sacrificers, but most especially by the brave explorers seeking these treasures. T h e E t h n o g r a p h y a n d R e i n h a r d ' s P e r s o n a l C o m m e n t s A third discourse within the article can be broadly described as ethnographic. It consists of all the comments that assert or guess at the culture and motivation of the Incan community involved in these sac- rifices. It is worth remembering that "the Inca left no written history. Most of what is known of their cul- ture comes from early Spanish accounts and archaeological finds such as these" (38, caption). Presuma- bly, these sources give credence to confident assertions that a "tunic was worn only by nobility" (51, cap- tion), or that the articles accompanying the children are variously intended to accompany them on their "journey to the afterlife" (40) or as gifts to "ensure the fertility of their herds" (44), or as "an offering to the deity with whom, in death, the girl would reside" (9). The assertions and guesses together add up to an attempted ethnography of this identified Incan sacrifice. Much of this ethnography recounts the struc- tures of society surrounding this sacrificial practice, including the Incas' use of sacrifice to build and strengthen the ties between the far-flung parts of their empire. The tone of most of this speculation is recognizable as an attempt to describe, as if in their own terms, known and guessed at features of this geographically and temporally distant society. These texts 142 are naturalistic in style, positivistic in outlook, "We can know and describe this culture, at least to some extent," might be a summary of the presuppositional bias. Serious critiques have been mounted against naturalism and realist narrative in Western ethnography (Atkinson and Coffey 1995; Gero and Root 1996). Lutz and Collins make a similar criticisms about the naturalist photographs in National Geo- graphic (1993, 280). However, if one wants to communicate, a recognizable language and form are nec- essary (Atkinson & Coffey 1995, 55), and the naturalist forms of text and photographs are just such read- able, comprehensible forms of language and image, familiar to a wide audience. Further, this sort of writ- ing, however flawed, has contributed to a real increase in understanding of other cultures, and an incre- mental decreasing of negative cultural judgement and imposition (Atkinson and Coffey 1995, 49). This form of description, then, could simply be granted as necessary in a magazine seeking to lo- cate themselves somewhere between a popular and a technical audience. Though they vary in tone and vocabulary somewhat, the other popular magazines that situate themselves in this liminal category, such as Archaeology, Scientific American and Discovery all adopt a similar approach to both archaeology and ethnography. A great many of the ethnographic comments made by the author could be casually de- scribed as non-judgmental and culturally relative summaries of current thinking around the Inca and their sacrificial practices. The references to the after-world, and to the victims' and sacrificers' presumed un- derstandings around their actions, could be read as simply an attempt to "get us into their head," and as a culturally sensitive avoidance of ethnocentrism. A p p r o a c h e s to the E t h i c a l J u d g m e n t o f O the r s Let's grant, then, that some form of ethnography is helpful. Further we can accept that that there have been, in the name of understanding others, "arrogant exaggerations" (Girard 1986, 65) leading to disastrous consequences. Are we thereby committed to a thoroughgoing relativism about the actions un- dertaken by those separated from us by time, space, or habit? Clifford (Geertz 2000) is a foremost propo- nent of just this sort of cultural relativism. He has a subtle, warm-hearted, and not overly sentimental in- clination toward difference and its exploration. He recognizes that cultures do clash, but argues that often 143 what is needed is "an imaginative entry into (and admittance of) an alien turn of mind" (82). I don't think it is oversimplifying to summarize Geertz's position regarding extreme relativism as, "In practice, it just doesn't happen." The image of vast numbers of anthropology readers running around in so cosmopolitan a frame of mind as to have no views as to what is and isn't true, or good, or beautiful, seems to me largely a fantasy. There may be some genuine nihilists out there, along Rodeo Drive or around Times Square, but I doubt very many have become such as a result of an excessive sensitivity to the claims of other cultures; and at least most of the people I meet, read, and read about, and indeed I myself, are all-too-committed to something or other, usually parochial. (46) Science, law, philosophy, art, political theory, religion, and the stubborn insistences of common sense have contrived nonetheless to continue. (64) While I am happy to grant that in practice, absolute nihilism prevails almost not at all, these dismissive comments utterly fail to grapple with the fact that one person's common sense is another person's fool- ishness, and one person's religion (or lack of religion), however benign to the practitioner, is another's heresy and worthy of death. As might be expected from the comments above, Geertz himself in practice simply asserts his own ethical stance with respect to other countries' politics and economy: "[The rural population in Java] would be better employed elsewhere if there were an elsewhere to employ them and if there were mechanized means at hand to accomplish their agricultural tasks" (25). Or, "Large-scale, well- to-do farmers alongside impoverished, small-scale ones" constitute "social injustice" in Morocco (27). The point here is precisely not whether we agree with his assessments, but that he makes these presump- tive assessments, despite presumably having admitted the "alien turn of mind." Further these assessments are precisely those which must be made by specific people, aid workers for example, in determining whether and how to intervene in local economies. In its emphasis on difference, this stance clearly gives us no help if, in the end, we must make any decision about an action or failure to act which affects those distanced from us by location, religion, or way of life, and we want a reasoned explanation for which areas we should intervene in, or what relative goods we are trying to promote for the sake of others. However, this is less troubling to Geertz, since the open-hearted ethnographic encounter with other cultures has as its primary value an enforced examination of our own: "The trouble with ethnocentrism is that it impedes us from discovering at what sort of an- gle... we stand to the world; what sort of bat we really are" (Geertz 2000, 75). Geertz's emphasis is on the attempt to understand, and our search for "imaginative entry" into the minds of others has as its goal not our judgment of them, but our understanding of ourselves. If difference absolutely prevails, then this is the only realistic goal. Its solipsistic narcissism renders decision-making about others either impossible or irrelevant, depending on how much one cares about the end results upon the others involved, particu- larly if a relationship of unequal power or dependency prevails. Christopher Norris (1995) mounts a cri- tique of the focus on otherness (alterity), arguing that it leads, for example, to Jean-Francois Lyo- tard's inability to refute those who might deny the Holocaust. This results because "an ethics of absolute 'difference', 'alterity' or 'otherness' is one that in principle denies itself recourse to a sensus communis of shared human values and truth- seeking interests, a realm wherein the rival parties to any such dispute might hope to find some common ground of mutual intelligibility" (21). This sort of approach can further have an unintended result, "For it can all too easily undergo the change from an attitude of good-willed tolerant respect for the diversity of human values and beliefs to a paranoid outlook that defines the other as indeed an alien being... "(31). Norris's suggestions for an alternative theory are detailed and careful. The centerpiece, however, is that the presupposition to "discoveries" in human sciences is (quoting Davidson) "a working assump- tion that most of [others'] beliefs hold true," that "if we want to understand others, we must count them right on most matters" (21). This theory assumes a level of similarity amongst humans which then en- ables contact, communication, and when necessary, ethical judgment, and includes the implicit assump- tion that we can, in fact, "understand others." Yet" Norris, like Geertz, offers in the end no help in deter- mining which areas of similarity and which of difference are most relevant. Further, as Geertz points out, In every important way we are such secrets from each other, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence. Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant no- tions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable—which, I has- ten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live. We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity. But all that really just allows us to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us. (Gilead, Robinson 2004, 197; Pamuk 2001, 235) 145 ".. . Moral issues stemmjng from cultural diversity... that used to arise, when they arose at all, mainly between societies—the "customs contrary to reason and morals" sort of thing on which imperialism fed—now increasingly arise within them. Cultural boundaries coincide less and less closely—there are Japanese in Brazil, Turks on the Main.. . —a shuffling process which has of course been going on for quite some time... but which is by now approaching extreme and near universal proportions" (2000,79). These moral issues extend from the familial to the international. As I write this in 2006, Sikhs in Van- couver, British Columbia, are wrestling morally with the honour killing of a young woman who married against her parents' desires, and Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed have sparked rioting not just in Copenhagen but throughout the Arab world as well. In response to these situations, in practice, the theo- rist or ethnographer or aid worker or imam or censor will need to sort out which areas of similarity and difference matter, and judge accordingly, because, in practice, decisions to act or not act must be made and those decisions have consequences. Though I don't much care for either of the choices above, I incline on balance toward Geertz's blunt assessment of the incommensurability of ethical systems. Geertz at least points out that, in the end, we will at times judge, "as we must" (2000, 87). However, absolute cultural relativism, regardless of its motivation, has some paradoxical effects. To treat others as if their moral decisions didn't matter may be engendered by some form of respect or desire not to judge. However, this is to dehumanize them. Vetlesen argues that the Nazis did not treat the Jews as moral objects deserving of death for some moral flaw, but rather as nonmoral and therefore non- human, objects. What matters is that it is morally right and morally demanded to treat the Jews, labelled Untermenschen, as devoid of moral status. In short, it is morally prescribed to treat a group of people, engendered within the moral universe as nonmoral objects, as objects entitled to no moral standing and possessing no moral rights whatsoever. (Vetlesen 1994, 192) If we treat others as if they have no moral standing, we are required to draw completely different moral decisions about them from those we would take for ourselves. In the Nazi case, this allowed the treatment of genocide as a moral act. I am claiming an extension of Vetlesen's point: that treating a group as if they have no moral standing can include treating them as if they have not only no rights, but also no moral re- sponsibility in our eyes. If so then we are, at the level of moral perception, firstly, treating the Incas as the Nazis treated the Jews. Secondly, we can't know that Incan adults treated the children they sacrificed 146 as non-moral objects—indeed, the reverse seems likely—but we are certainly doing so, if we adopt this stance. The paradoxical impact of what began, in cultural relativism's case, as a well-motivated stance, is that, if I am persuaded by societal forces around me... that this and that class of objects of perception are nonmoral objects, this persuasion may prove pre-emptive in the sense that it may help block the activization of my faculty of empathy . . . . Such blocking may produce effects nothing less than disastrous for the "objects" affected by the nonactivization of empathy. (Vetlesen 1994, 195) Vetlesen's "forces" include "rigid stereotypy or abstraction of categories of others," but cultural relativ- ism too promotes abstraction and non-moral labelling. Vetlesen has already discussed the ways in which moral perception is dependent upon empathy. His contention here, that the labelling of others as not sub- ject to perception as moral objects may suppress empathy, has explanatory power relative to this National Geographic article. If empathy normally invokes moral judgments and their consequent actions, and if we are blocked in advance from making moral judgments about an entire group of people and their prac- tices, then empathy indeed may be deactivated or at least curtailed. This, in fact, is precisely what hap- pens in the strange hybridization of texts which occur within the article. H y b r i d T e x t s ? It is within the ethnographic discourse that one could reasonably expect depictions of scenarios which would allow or invite empathy with the lives and deaths of the children and their sacrificers. There is, however, another strand of speculation in the article, linked to the physical bodies themselves. These guesses at first glance often appear ethnograph-Re: Eternity Bound—How do we know the gods don't just eat the children? Re: Chosen One—Which, the child or the feather bag? Re: Go Gently—As opposed to "Do Not Go Gently"? Not to worry; we made sure of the "gentle" part with the chicha. Is fury possible at the level of the writing of this dissertation? "Show, don't tell" is the creative writing response, but feels inadequate here. ic, but are seldom consistently restricted to a single tone. Rather, they are punctuated by strange interjections, personal or aesthetic or scientific in tone, and sometimes all three. Take first the titles attached to the spreads of the small boy, the small girl, and the second spread of the larger girl: "Eternity Bound,&