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“Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.”

–  Jonathan Franzen – Farther away


I like quotes because of their lack of context. Good quotes allow you to cook up your own. And sometimes they make me return to novels forgotten or neglected. These words remind me that I have How to be alone on the shelves, and never read it. In any case, this quote, I’ve been thinking along similar lines, because sometimes it bothers me when people are so concerned with the world all the time, full of empathy with the less privileged and the oppressed, especially from behind their computers. Which is beautiful of course, and honourable, but at the same time I wish they would show people in their own life the same amount of empathy.

And see, when I’m saying it, it becomes personal, and therefore petty and small. Unfair too, probably. So best to borrow the words above. (As for the pictures, that’s a different story, except that those too are about love.)

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