I’m about to share a writing exercise that has the power to inspire even the deadest poet.
But first, how I found it:
The other day a wonderful friend told me about Sam Harris’s podcast with Paul Bloom, where the two talk about Bloom being “against empathy.”
Harris and Bloom are both extraordinary humans who note that empathy—feeling another’s experience—is not particularly productive. It can be exhausting, in fact, and can lead to things like secondary trauma.
Empathy is not a synonym for compassion, they say essentially, so lots of people have it wrong: it’s a misnomer for compassion.
The conversation, as Harris and Bloom explore psychology, neuroscience, morality, meditation, psychedelic drugs, and more, is deeply stimulating, and I might write this weekend more about what I took away from their talk. Cuz I see some exceptions, I feel some affinities, and I have some experience I want to explore.
So halfway through the podcast, I sat down for dinner and found Bloom on Twitter. I came across a tweet about beautiful and strong language, a thing I love as much as an authentic philosophical discussion.
That led me to following Strong Language, which Strong Language describes as “sweary stuff about swearing from a group of linguists, lexicographers, and language lovers.”
Immediately I fell in love.
I landed on a Guardian article by a man who’s swearing off swearing because he doesn’t want his son “to be like the toddler at my friends’ wedding reception who ground everything to a standstill by angrily calling his mum a fuckhead.”
When I LOL I love.
I clicked back to Strong Language and found a tweet about a grammatical debate on the phrase “I agreed the fuck out of it.”
Read, LOL, love.
Cuz I agreed the fuck out of it.
I sent him to my friend Becky, who found Stan’s book spine poem.
“We’ve got to do this,” she said, and she did, and hers is beautiful.
Book Spine Poem (I had the poem right here on this post at first, but I’ve moved it to a separate post.)