There is a kind of empathy that so fully transcends both genuine intimacy and imaginative projection that it conjoins the empathic individual to the person or thing or animal under attention with such infusing force that that individual becomes a kind of embracing, breathable liquid. We are, in fact—as individuals, as people—a kind of liquid, an embodied, bone-and-flesh kind of liquid—and yet we are not exactly meant to invent ourselves into the revelation of that fact, anymore than we are meant to be gathered together in this room without our clothes on—shorn of hair and teeth, bled of eye, disarmed, drawn and eviscerated. There is a kind of empathic individual, that by nature of pure, embodied listening and response, makes of herself a pulsing, prismatic community, and by pure, embodied listening and response, transfigures herself into a wilderness—a state alternating between clarified loneliness and voluminous possibility, however the two might be synonymous.
Life is unbearable for its dimension. We measure it both brief and interminable. Yet dimension—or in this sense, duration—is not the province or concern of genuine empathy, nor is it the province or concern of genuine poetry. An island, for example, is singular for the fact that it neither begins nor ends. It is—that is, it is happening; it happens—it receives and lets go. And yet, an island is also not singular at all, for every thing being exactly an island—a body, the inverse of a body, a wilderness, the razing of that wilderness, surrounded by water, and water.