How Robert Rowland Smith reveals space within us for others

Happyplaces stories (video)


The inner camera: ‘khora’

I think this notion of space as ‘khora’ is important because it is that place inside us, in our psyches, that allows us to hold other people within it. (…) It is a bit more connected to something like empathy, but I think it is even more radical than that.

A more radical kind of empathy

Sympathy means ‘feeling with’. In a way, it is just a sort of social convention. Like, you had a bad day at work, and I say: ‘I’m really sorry to hear that.’ Sympathy doesn’t go much further than that.

Empathy is something that resonates with you, where you can relate to, because we’ve had it ourselves. It is predicated on us recollecting an experience that we have had, that is in our view pretty much analogous or identical to the experience of the person we’re talking to.

Opening up the space for the other within us

The notion of khora is much stranger altogether. It is a way of holding the other person inside us in a way that is not necessarily activating feelings of our own, but in a way in which we are holding them in our psyches, while they have their own experience.

Which sounds probably completely mad if you have never done it, but if you have constellations before then you recognise how swift and accurate this ability that anybody has to embody other people is. It just comes upon us without any study, preparation, without any effort of empathy, sympathy or even any effort of imagination. It simply happens.

Holding space for the other

We carry space within us of two radically different kinds. One is, as it were self-space — identity space, my space, personal space which is principally that of the memory and the imagination. It’s the mind where we identify with, the thoughts that are contained within it. But then there is that secondary, possibly primary space which I call the khora which suggest we are always open at any moment to become active with them.

Otherness

We have a space within us capable of taking others on board. And I say that it is in principle infinite because in my experience there is nothing I’ve seen that cannot be manifested or represented in this way by us. Which suggests in turn that there is a radical openness of the human being to the other. And that there is, on one side of us at least, no boundary across space or time towards or with regard to all the other phenomena that we are potentially aware of.

Boundless radical openness and knowing

This notion of the khora goes even further than what Jung was even talking about. It seems to have no boundary to it and suggests that our capacity for resonance with the other has no bounds at all.

Everything is in principle knowable to us


Happyplaces Stories

A library of perspectives from the Happyplaces Project, a playful research project to better understand all dimensions of space to eventually create happy places.

Marcel Kampman

Written by

Owner at Happykamping, astronaut at Happyplaces Project.

Happyplaces Stories

A library of perspectives from the Happyplaces Project, a playful research project to better understand all dimensions of space to eventually create happy places.