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Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.
At the very beginning, it’s a desire and that’s not the same thing at all, because when you have the desire to do something, all the work you can do is a positive thing. It’s not something that you calculate. An idea is something you work on to make it work and a desire is much deeper in a way. The immersion, it’s classical, I watched a lot of movies.
We communicated with pithy, rather monosyllabic thoughts: viz. Run, Jump, Where? Left, Up, Duck, ect. (This latter was an observation I made on the edge of a lake. Nathaniel unfortunately took it as a command, which resulted in our temporary immersion.) We didn’t ever quite say Ug, but it was a close-run thing.
I’ve begun to recognize myself as a Catholic writer because my whole notion of the image, of symbol, of art and what it can do, has been conditioned by my immersion in Catholic culture, ritual, and art since my earliest days. Catholicism seeped into me through every pore. Catholicism is about seeping and pores!
Usually at the end of each story we’re thrown clear out of the story’s world and then we’re given a new world to enter. What’s unique about a linked collection is that it can deliver both sets of narrative pleasures – the novel’s long immersion into character-world and the story anthology’s energetic (and mortal) brevity – the linked collection is unique in its ability to be both abrupt and longitudinal simultaneously.