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EMPATHY, now more than ever. this week's podcast: jamil zaki {official Thing}

{public post}

hallo loves.

i cannot imagine that you aren't all exhausted - and yet as curious and hungry as ever - in the empathy department.

i know i am.

i've got a new podcast for you.


i'm still deeply exhausted and recovering from the weekend's show-andparty-madness....which included the massive livesteam (which has yet to be officially THINGED, but i will thing it soon along with many pictures and stories, and you can watch it HERE). i am buried in unposted photos from the weekend and it'll take another few days to sort through and post them...AND i still owe you all pictures from the amazing weekend in dunedin. i am sorry i am so behind, but i know you forgive me.....

also, if you missed this on social media....there's one standout picture from the patron party this sunday at my holding ash holding little 5 month old jack from invercargill.....and it sparked many conversations about COVID AND HANDS AND VEINS AND VANITY....

(you can go join the ruckus on FB or IG....and yes, i should start posting these things to the shadowbox. more about that soon as i surface from the deep).

but meanwhile.....speaking of empathy for all, including self.... 

if you know me (and especially if you saw this year's touring "there will be no intermission" show) you know i have, er, strong feelings about empathy and compassion. i'm an extremist. having been led down the buddhist path when i was in my teens, i firmly believe that radical empathy and compassion for all beings is the way to go.

i didn't realize quite how unpopular a belief system this was until i started yapping publicly about it. i assumed most people agreed with me. i was very wrong.

but that doesn't mean i've gotten it right. 

i did this interview with jamil zaki, academic empathy expert, on the day before i released my follow-up poem about the boston marathon bomber....a sort of a "sequel" to a poem i'd written that had gotten me into an awfully hot mess, a mess i still think about a learn from today. 

the second poem didn't get me into trouble.

i think a lot of empathy, and the stickiness around it, has to do with expression and timing more than anything else.

too soon? people hugging cops who've gunned down black people? we've seen all these arguments on the internet about who and who isn't allowed compassionate. i don't think there are easy answers here. and context is often warped and lost on the internet. thing is for sure....we could  stand to learn more about empathy, and how it literally "works".

enter jamil.

who says, in the podcast.....

"You don't have to sacrifice yourself emotionally in order to provide deep and true care to someone else...
The thing about Homo sapiens that made us special was that we had each other. We were these little, almost helpless beings individually, but we huddle."


this podcast is one of the first conversations i recorded...all the way back in april 2019 at my house in woodstock, over skype. here i be. back in the old days when i lived in my house.

and here were some of the notes that i'd taken for my discussion with jamil....

i met jamil at south by southwest, at a weird sorta luncheon, and after learning of each other's work, i said: "i want to talk to you more. i'm vaguely starting a podcast, would you be willing to talk about your book and research?" and jamil said YES.

and off we went.

audio for all of the podcast episodes are embedded on my website, including today's episode:


go here, select the podcast venue of your choice (i.e. apple podcasts), and click on the most recent episode.




i know it isn't super simple. there is not JUST ONE LINK. this handy linktree has a round-up of how to tune into the podcast on some of the most popular players. we will have the audio embedded on each episode post on my website:


i want to keep talking about this stuff, and so does jamil.

THIS WEEK’S PATRON-ONLY CROWDCAST FOLLOW-UP LIVE CHAT/Q&A with ME and JAMIL is scheduled for this THURSDAY, november 19th starting at 4:30pm ET new york time! PLEASE COME!!!!

RSVP here and start leaving questions:

(you'll need to log into patreon to access this webcast as it's patron-only).

as always.....the live cast /Q&A will be recorded and you can view the archive recording at the same link above, any time after the live stream ends.

if you missed any of the previous podcast follow-up chats, you can watch the archived recordings on crowdcast:


some words from jamil himself:

Since Amanda and I talked last year, the world turned upside down.  2020 has been a crisis layer cake, but for all the pain we've been through, I also see hope. Catastrophes are collision points for two stories about human nature.  
One, seen in books like The Lord of the Flies, holds that when things fall apart, we do, too: panicking and tearing each other down.  History tells a different story.  After bombings, earthquakes and yes, pandemics, people find ways to help each other, to express a deeper kindness inside ourselves.  
This might not be the story that you see on the news, but it's there.  And our ability to continue it will determine how we emerge from this devastating time.

amen, jamil. amen.



ALL patrons will be getting a special excerpt from jamil's book later this week.

jamil's book, the war for kindness is now available in both hardcover:

and paperback editions:

head over here to the patreon book club thread to start discussing the episode, the book, and empathy in general.....:

here's the text i bopped on over there:

you guys know how i feel about empathy and compassion: i’m an…extremist. radical compassion for all, even the murderers and the bombers. yes. even them.

BUT: a reminder that “compassion” does not equal “endorsement”, and this is the spot where i think a lot of people get STUCK…so maybe that’s a good place to start the conversation.

and maybe bop in a few things that may have happened in your own life to create empathy…did anything happen that changed your approach to empathy, changed your outlook?


if you want some art with your book…may i recommend the poem “empathy is nothing”, thinged on patreon many moons ago:

here's the link:


SHOW NOTES: The Art of Asking Everything, Season 1, Episode 8

Jamil Zaki: Tuning Your Empathy Fork


Amanda Palmer presents an intimate conversation with Jamil Zaki, recorded remotely on April 11, 2019 in Woodstock, NY and Stanford, CA.

Jamil Zaki is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory. By combining psychology and neuroscience, Jamil and his colleagues study how empathy works, and ultimately how we can empathize with each other more effectively.

Jamil is the author of "The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World."

Jamil’s 2017 TEDxMarin Talk is entitled “BUILDING EMPATHY: How to hack empathy and get others to care more.”

His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.

We talked about how to flex your empathy, art as a performance enhancing drug for empathy, post traumatic growth, and the high wire act of having empathy for those who cause us harm.


The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World


Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab:



Thanks to my special guest Jamil Zaki. You should get and read his book, The War For Kindness, right now, it is so good.

The engineers for this interview were Robert Raymond, and Jimmy Garver. The theme song that you are listening to is my own, it’s the instrumental to a song called Bottomfeeder, from my 2012 album Theatre Is Evil.

Many, many thanks to my Team AFP, Hayley, Michael, Jordan, and Alex, who are always working behind the scenes to make everything happen. 

And this whole podcast would not be possible without all of my patrons, 15,000 of them, who are making it possible for this podcast to exist, with no ads, no sponsors, no censorship. Just beautiful, unfiltered, unfettered everything-ness. So please, go to the Patreon, become a member, and support me and my team in making and doing all of this stuff. Patrons also get access to a book club, and they also get access to a follow-up live chat with almost every guest.



we've attached a pdf of the transcript of my conversation with leslie to the patreon post. to view it, you can download it by visiting this patreon post on the web at:

(it's a hyperlink at the very bottom of the post with a little paper clip attachment symbol next to it)


Jamil received his BA from Boston University, his Ph.D. from Columbia University, and postdoctoral training at Harvard University. He is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab.

Using tools from psychology and neuroscience, he and his colleagues examine how empathy works and how people can learn to empathize more effectively. His writing on these topics has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and the Atlantic. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and their two daughters.  When he’s not writing about empathy for work, his hobbies include writing about empathy for fun, compulsive hiking, and perfecting a Michelin star oatmeal recipe for the SSNL’s very particular lab babies.



top photo in patreon courtesy of team afp's very own merch queen, alex knight, wearing a shirt by artist @BrigitteAphrodite!!



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