Dear Ms. Jamison,
A friend introduced me to The Empathy Exams about a year ago. Actually, she simply shared a single phrase from the first essay. This phrase:
“...a root system of loss stretches radial and rhyzomatic under the entire territory of my life.”
The phrase drew me all the way in. I’m glad it did.
This is not a note to tell you I admire the way you write. I do, of course, but that is not the point.
Rather, it’s a note of thanks for daring to ask the questions that you ask. Uncomfortable questions. Questions that cause me to set the book aside and turn the music up. Questions that follow me to the kitchen like an old cat wanting her breakfast.
Especially in Devil’s Bait. It’s a lovely essay. Sure. But it’s more than that. I view the world a little differently because you dared to put your questions into a book. Without having neat answers.
Questions like these:
“Is it wrong to call it empathy when you trust the fact of suffering, but not the source? How do I inhabit someone’s pain without inhabiting their particular understanding of that pain?”
I. Am. No. Longer. Certain.
And for that, I am deeply grateful,