If I can wake up every morning and face the fallen world with an open heart, even if I know that it will hurt,
If I can bring an open heart to a world in which educated people would rather risk their children’s lives than give them a vaccine that some irrational rumors and logical fallacies have suggested might cause them to have a neurology like mine,
If I can teach with an open heart in a world in which pedagogy is increasingly replaced with bureaucracy,
If I can meet my students with an open heart, even if I know some of them will break it without even knowing it,
If I can care for my friends with an open heart, even if I know they will not always understand it or appreciate it,
If I can seek intimacy with an open heart, even if I’ve been abused for it,
If I can love people with an open heart, even though I know they will disappoint me,
If I can write with an open heart, even if I’ve had the worst the internet commentariat has to offer aimed at me,
then that is the most radical act of resistance I could ever offer. And the motes and splinters that I take home, if I have the discipline to put them into ordered lines, make for a poetry more essential than anything I could write otherwise.
I told my students that it seemed to me, on this reading, that Kafka’s hunger artist had a kind of pride that was good for the artist and bad for the human. He couldn’t, finally, find anything he liked to eat because the human part had died. When I open my heart, and suffer for it, it is the human and not the artist who feels the pain, but I do not think I have the same kind of pride. The open heart is ineluctably human and thus reaffirms that my humanity endures, interwoven with the artist.
After all, starvation—or any kind of deprivation—is a kind of closing off, and on its own, outside of certain contexts, isn’t really a necessary art.