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Catch-2022

  Catch-2022 Read this essay as originally published at  Watermark   In Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel “Catch-22,” the author writes—regarding self-diagnosed insanity—that “There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.”    In his protagonist Captain Yossarian’s world, empathy was postlogue to insanity: an entirely different conversation.  Empathy, at mid-century, was the ability to feel—deeply and physically—the pains and joys of another person. It wasn’t a demand upon others, it was a psychological anomaly that resided within a special individual who knew, among other things, that not everybody had the shine.    In 2022, empathy is manifest differently. In 2022, we are all imbued with some bit of empathy—a physical firing of neural synapses—and expect others to honor us, not for our actual emotions, but rather for our externalized em

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