“Nothing is controlled by logic other than logic itself.”
Filed under Uncategorized
“Both wanted to sit down in the shade at the edge of the woods: neither would suggest it.”
from A Game Of Hide and Seek (1951) by Elizabeth Taylor
I made the above link before the row really kicked off.
Now much later in hidsight, it is pointless to go into the rights and wrongs of that thread and its accoutrements, but it is certainly apt, if ironic, that it is entitled the Empathy Problem. I feel this has increasingly become a problem into today’s world, whether individually (there are medicals terms for it) or in groups (big and small).
I feel the ‘Never Again’ row, the ‘Bull-Running’ row, the ‘Weirdtongue’ row, ‘the flag against ebooks’ row, and others, all suffered from mutual problems of empathy. (The ‘new disease’, if not created by the internet, certainly incubated by it).
I think appreciation of Horror genre entities is indeed germane to the Empathy Problem, too. Perhaps an Empathy with one of one’s own (Proustian) selves? And Guy de Maupassant (again! and another French author) seems to express something at least tangential to this in ‘The Horla’:
“Ever since man has thought, since he has been able to express and write down his thoughts, he has felt himself close to a mystery which is impenetrable to his coarse and imperfect senses, and he endeavors to supplement the feeble penetration of his organs by the efforts of his intellect. As long as that intellect remained in its elementary stage, this intercourse with invisible spirits assumed forms which were commonplace though terrifying. Thence sprang the popular belief in the supernatural, the legends of wandering spirits, of fairies, of gnomes, of ghosts, I might even say the conception of God, for our ideas of the Workman-Creator, from whatever religion they may have come down to us, are certainly the most mediocre, the stupidest, and the most unacceptable inventions that ever sprang from the frightened brain of any human creature. Nothing is truer than what Voltaire says: ‘If God made man in His own image, man has certainly paid Him back again.'”
Empathy with the book’s ‘God’ and paying him back with realised monsters (whether you are that book’s reader or creator). Casts a detached two-way empathy within the self of a God-Author and an even Godder-reader, if you are a reader, or vice versa, if you’re the author.
An author of a book is often seen as God of that book, but there are narrative levels sometimes even that ‘god’ is unaware of out of his control. The reader’s empathy takes the form of ‘realising’ the entities (characters, places, monsters etc) and turning them against the author as a mixed emotion of hate or need for vengeance (not being fully empowered to believe in the entities from the mere conveyance of them by the text), of love or envy (you are not the author and then you resist believing him because you feel you are a better author as a reader with a reader’s creativity of turning his words into realities), and thus that (two-way?) love/hate/envy empathy seems to make those entities actually real and you set them loose back on the author (now as truly dangerous entities rather than mere words on a page) for him having created them without first making sure they were real and thus forcing you to do the job for him.
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