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97

Wound

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probaby the most interesting chapter: about Che Guevara's early life, when he was a medical student and visiting his friend Alberto Granado , who was working in a leprosy hospital in Argentina; soon after, they started traveling around South America, visiting leprosariums and trying to help people when possible. also some thoughts on pain and its function as a definer of self (you consist of what you can feel). she also talks about Buddhism and her own illness (potential breast cancer, for which she needs surgery)

Solnit, R. (2013). Wound. In Solnit, R. The Faraway Nearby. Viking, pp. 97-116

105

The nerveless part of the body remains alive, but pain and sensation define the self; what you cannot feel is not you; what you cannot feel you do not readily take care of; your extremities become lost to you. [...]

on leprosy, and Che Guevara's experiences with it

—p.105 by Rebecca Solnit 2 years, 2 months ago

The nerveless part of the body remains alive, but pain and sensation define the self; what you cannot feel is not you; what you cannot feel you do not readily take care of; your extremities become lost to you. [...]

on leprosy, and Che Guevara's experiences with it

—p.105 by Rebecca Solnit 2 years, 2 months ago
107

Empathy makes you imagine the sensation of the torture, of the hunger, of the loss. You make that person into yourself, you inscribe their suffering on your own body or heart or mind, and then you respond to their suffering as though it were your own. Identification, we say, to mean that I extend solidarity to you, and who and what you identify with builds your own identity. Physical pain defines the physical boundaries of the self but these identifications define a larger self, a map of affections and alliances, and the limits of this psychic self are nothing more or less than the limits of love. Which is to say love enlarges; it annexes affectionately; at its utmost it dissolves all boundaries.

[...]

If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel even for themselves shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel compassion for all beings must be boundless. They are not separate, not alone, not lonely, not vulnerable in the same way as those of us stranded in the islands of ourselves, but they are vulnerable in other ways. Still, that sense of the dangers of feeling for others is so compelling that many withdraw, and develop elaborate stories to justify withdrawal, and then forget that they have shrunk. Most of us do, one way or another.

leprosy still

—p.107 by Rebecca Solnit 2 years, 2 months ago

Empathy makes you imagine the sensation of the torture, of the hunger, of the loss. You make that person into yourself, you inscribe their suffering on your own body or heart or mind, and then you respond to their suffering as though it were your own. Identification, we say, to mean that I extend solidarity to you, and who and what you identify with builds your own identity. Physical pain defines the physical boundaries of the self but these identifications define a larger self, a map of affections and alliances, and the limits of this psychic self are nothing more or less than the limits of love. Which is to say love enlarges; it annexes affectionately; at its utmost it dissolves all boundaries.

[...]

If the boundaries of the self are defined by what we feel, then those who cannot feel even for themselves shrink within their own boundaries, while those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel for others are enlarged, and those who feel compassion for all beings must be boundless. They are not separate, not alone, not lonely, not vulnerable in the same way as those of us stranded in the islands of ourselves, but they are vulnerable in other ways. Still, that sense of the dangers of feeling for others is so compelling that many withdraw, and develop elaborate stories to justify withdrawal, and then forget that they have shrunk. Most of us do, one way or another.

leprosy still

—p.107 by Rebecca Solnit 2 years, 2 months ago
112

The Marxist revolutions of the past assumed a similar paternalistic privilege of acting on behalf of peoples who might not particularly agree with the actions or the goals. The vanguard was supposed to lead the revolution and the masses eventually to wake up and follow. It was the end that justified many means. Che wrote to his children, "The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love," but what that love was for is opaque. He became one of the harshest parts of a harsh regime. All this was unimaginable to the young man who gave a blanket to a cold unempoyed miner and his wife and empathized with a pretty girl strnded in a leprosarium.

I think of empathy as a kind of music Guevara had caught the sound of, the "still sad music of humanity," as Wordsworth once called it, and then he became deaf to it, a dancer falling out of step. The Cuban Revolution might have been his great moment, when he united his sense of purpose with the intensity of the experience of war. Afterward Che, as he was then known, became a minister of various things, but a restless minister at odds at times with the revolution's commander, Fidel Castro. He tried to foment revolution in the Congo in 1965, with little immediate effect, and then in a backwater of Bolivia in 1967. It was as though he wanted to go back to that moment of becoming rather than live with what the revolution became.

referring to medical practices in Che's time, where doctors would keep patients in the dark, assuming the doctor always knew best

—p.112 by Rebecca Solnit 2 years, 2 months ago

The Marxist revolutions of the past assumed a similar paternalistic privilege of acting on behalf of peoples who might not particularly agree with the actions or the goals. The vanguard was supposed to lead the revolution and the masses eventually to wake up and follow. It was the end that justified many means. Che wrote to his children, "The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love," but what that love was for is opaque. He became one of the harshest parts of a harsh regime. All this was unimaginable to the young man who gave a blanket to a cold unempoyed miner and his wife and empathized with a pretty girl strnded in a leprosarium.

I think of empathy as a kind of music Guevara had caught the sound of, the "still sad music of humanity," as Wordsworth once called it, and then he became deaf to it, a dancer falling out of step. The Cuban Revolution might have been his great moment, when he united his sense of purpose with the intensity of the experience of war. Afterward Che, as he was then known, became a minister of various things, but a restless minister at odds at times with the revolution's commander, Fidel Castro. He tried to foment revolution in the Congo in 1965, with little immediate effect, and then in a backwater of Bolivia in 1967. It was as though he wanted to go back to that moment of becoming rather than live with what the revolution became.

referring to medical practices in Che's time, where doctors would keep patients in the dark, assuming the doctor always knew best

—p.112 by Rebecca Solnit 2 years, 2 months ago