Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion (Essays by Lauren Berlant

By Lauren Berlant

In Compassion, ten students draw on literature, psychoanalysis, and social heritage to supply an archive of situations and genealogies of compassion. jointly those essays display how "being compassionate" is formed through old specificity and social education, and the way the assumption of compassion happens in scenes which are worried, unstable, dazzling, or even contradictory.

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Above the tale hangs one of Poe’s misquotations—some lines attributed to Joseph Glanvill. The bulk of it reads: “And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the mysteries of the will and its vigor…. 39 But man is not the creature notable for volition in the tale. That distinction belongs to Ligeia, whose “intensity in thought, action, or speech, was possibly, in her, a result, or at least an index, of that gigantic volition which, during our long intercourse, failed to give other and more immediate evidence of its existence” (1984a, 265).

That situation will focus initially on race, but race will open onto more general questions about colonial and neocolonial social relations and the ideologies that reproduce them. ”10 The charge seems to have been somewhat inaccurate in the first decades of the nineteenth century on the northeastern seaboard. Then, in cities like Boston, middle-class women were in near-perpetual mourning. The good woman treasured objects associated with her deceased kin and was fond of decorating her house and her person with remains of the body—with locks of hair, for example, braided and mounted.

At least, this was their approach with the intimate dead. Remembrance of such of the dead as bore extrafamilial socially or nationally significant ties to the living was a different matter. And that may have been what Emerson was driving at in charging his contemporaries with inappropriate muteness. One of his most important topics was how to think the personal, ethical significance of social history. ”14 Reform stakes all its hopes on a possible future unlike anything we have known before. The woman in mourning would seem to straddle this divide.

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