Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Is Empathy a Form of Imagination?" by David Pring-Mill, Poet of the Week

Is Empathy a Form of Imagination?
David Pring-Mill

I see strange symmetry
and broken forms:
the processions
of people,
the tombs
of haphazard art.

A cerebral engineer is at work,
rethinking cogs of the world
to assemble it anew.

But do the farthest reaches of mind
also allow for the reaching heart?
Is empathy a form of imagination?

If you can't imagine,
how can you empathize?
If rooms are boring
with fixed forms
and surface feelings,
how can your mind wander
into another perspective?
We imagine, in part
so that we can empathize.

If we accept this as true,
it's ironic
how schools discard
arts and literature,
prescribing other fields
as more practical.

How can anything be practiced
if people, trapped in their own heads,
cannot work and dream together?

Poet's Notes:  Many artists are characterized as "bleeding hearts." Perhaps an active imagination leads to a heightened sense of empathy. Of course, artistic passions and empathic causes may also co-occur because people are trying to conform to the mores of existing social groups. This latter explanation is admittedly cynical, suggesting that artists' displays of empathy are disingenuous, whereas the former explanation provides both causality and aggrandizement.  With this poem, I intended to pull at the threads of interesting questions, without entirely unraveling these interwoven psychological yarns.

Editor’s Note:  This is a thought-provoking, activist but not in-your-face treatment of an important subject, especially in these polarized times. 

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