I Am You: The Hermeneutics of Empathy in Western Literature, Theology and Art (Princeton Legacy Library)
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Important trends in contemporary intellectual life celebrate difference, divisiveness, and distinction. Speculative writing increasingly highlights "hermeneutic gaps" between human beings, their histories, and their hopes. In this book Karl Morrison identifies an alternative to this disruption. He explores for the first time the entire legacy of thought revolving around the challenging claim "I am you"--perhaps the most concise possible statement of bonding through empathy. Professor Morrison shows that the hope for thoroughgoing understanding and inclusion in another's world view is central to the West's moral/intellectual tradition. He maintains that the West may yet escape the fatal flaw of casting that hope in paradigms of sexual and aesthetic dominance--examples of empathetic participation inspired by hunger for power, as well as by love.
The author uses diverse sources: in theology ranging from Augustine to Schleiermacher, in art from the religious art of the Christian Empire to post-Abstractionism, and in literature from Donne to Joyce, Pirandello, and Mann. In this work he builds on the thought of two earlier books: Tradition and Authority in the Western Church: 300-1140 (Princeton, 1969) and The Mimetic Tradition of Reform in the West (Princeton, 1982). "I Am You" goes beyond their themes to the inward act that, according to tradition, consummated the change achieved by mimesis: namely, empathetic participation.
Originally published in 1988.
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Donne and alchemy, see Ramsay, Les doctrines medievales chez Donne, pp. 272-80. AMOROUS SYMPATHY 49 revealed only to the virtuous, only to those whose feelings and purposes were harmonious with the sacred purposes of their art. Only the fewest of the few could penetrate the hiddenness of truth. In unworthiness and ignorance, most human beings could even hold the philosopher's stone in their own hands without discerning its powers. Placing Donne's verses to Tilman in an alchemical frame of
the preoccupation of the three modern works between art and suffering, and to be precise, between the ascetic inversion of pleasure and pain as the condition of creative life. They weave the history of "the Christian centuries" into their narratives. They build their characterizations of creative suffering as essays on freedom, played out in the tension between nature and art. Moreover, they portray that tension in language and symbols drawn from the Christian theology of sin. As a result, the
composition and performance that destroy him. All represent play both as a means to understand what can be understood and as the fleeting instant and experience of understanding itself. As they draw with repugnance on the biological paradigm and with favor on the esthetic one, they give an anatomy of play itself, the playing of the play, so to speak, not only the outward gestures, but also the inward motivations. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of association by contrast to the
in his story. As the story unfolds, the emphasis falls on Dedalus, the mythological figure who, driven by love of his distant homeland, escaped his prison by inventing wings and flying triumphantly across the sea, an image of freedom that Joyce combined with resurrection from the dead (p. 154). Yet, this triumph was crowned with suffering. As the epigram of his Portrait, Joyce used a verse by the Roman poet Ovid, who wrote that Dedalus "turned his mind to unknown arts" in order to achieve flight.
"lonelier than the last."9 However, each epiphany is also a step forward in Dedalus's esthetic conversion, an advance in his vocation to the "priesthood" of art. Thus, Joyce passed from the infusion of "some dark presence" in the first epiphany, penetrating him from the darkness (p. 91), to the commingling with spirit in the second, which lifted him in ecstatic flight and made radiant his eyes and limbs (p. 154), and finally to the impregnation of "the virgin womb of the imagination," when, in