empathy Archive

The Work of Fiction and the Fiction of Work

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A life is divided into three parts: the time before you’re able to work, the time after you’re able to work, and the monstrous bulk of time between. After obedience to the law and some basic moral code, work is one of the great demands placed upon the able.

Ruefle, Hokusai, and the American View of Asia

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Katsushika Hokusai, contemporary of Goya and Turner and Ingres, artistic godfather of Monet and Van Gogh, was recently the subject of an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston. He’s been on my mind ever since. Most of us know Hokusai’s artwork from the image above,

Survival of the Readers

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In eighth grade, my science class included a unit about Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. I built a diorama of clay giraffes meant to represent how offspring with longer necks were more likely to survive and reproduce since they were more capable of eating leaves from tall

Etymology as Pedagogy: How Words Teach Me to Live

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When I learned, not long ago, that the word “daisy” comes from the Old English word “day’s eye,” referring to how the petals open at dawn and close at night, I was delighted. Here was proof that the English language can be governed by a beautiful logic. It was

Raising ’em right: Fiction & Parenthood

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Within the next few weeks, I’ll be officially responsible for introducing another human being to a sense of ethics—of how to be in this world. Granted, she and I will be initially concerned with a few other things, but the time will come when we will talk about right