What I do feel like, though, is telling about some of the online reading I’ve been doing, and how it ties into stuff I’ve been thinking about. So here it goes:
- I seem to be slipping down the Hamilton rabbit hole — this surprises me a bit, because up until now I’ve had minimal exposure to musicals and know very little about them. I also have next to no context to help me make sense of Hamilton historically, and as a non-American I don’t necessarily feel the urge to correct that through reading (I’m sure it would be interesting, but to be honest there are other non-fiction topics I’d rather prioritise). I don’t think that’s an unusual experience among Hamilton fans, though, and it’s lovely to note how the music’s emotional resonance makes itself felt regardless, and how captivating its approach to storytelling is. My enthusiasm for Hamilton has been a very pleasant surprise: I like liking things, and, as I think I’ve explained before, I especially enjoy the communal joy of being excited about something lots of other people are excited about.
All this to say that I enjoyed Rebecca Mead’s piece about Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and how he came to write it.
- I have a lot of feeling about The Wire, always and forever, so of course this animated tribute to the series did things to my heart.
- A Month-by-Month Break Down of Music Industry Misogyny in 2015. Even though I don’t write a lot about it, music is every bit as important to me as reading, and up until recently I felt that the music world was perhaps a few steps behind the book world when it came to having open public conversations about pervasive misogyny and its effects. A lot of work remains to be done in every cultural arena, but it’s gratifying to see the unmistakable signs that things are changing.
- Zaleski’s piece led me to this one, which I had an intense and complicated reaction to. I want to be cautious and clarify that when I say that a culture of reaction has a high human cost, I’m speaking for myself only, and even then, only some of the time. I’ve seen both sides: I’ve experienced moments when going on twitter and seeing everyone respond to some wrongheaded article or other is immensely comforting and healing — it breaks through isolation; it makes harm more bearable; it reminds us that we’re not alone; it builds solidarity; it keeps us sane. And as much as it feels like we’re inside an echo chamber sometimes, I genuinely believe that new people are being reached and exposed to the principles of equality in their many nuances and incarnations all the time. Our words are not being wasted. I trust that.
However, there are also days (more days than not, to be honest) when the latest wrongheaded article makes me want to crawl under my bed rather than go on twitter and share what would at a better time have been a comforting, companionable eye-roll with my friends. It’s not that people are wrong to react; it’s that I can’t always withstand it. Some subjects are too painful or too personal; some days are just too hard. And although I’m a little better at dealing with these things than I used to be, in the past I’ve worried a lot about whether my need to be silent so I can take care of myself is indistinguishable from indifference or complicity from the outside, or even from the inside. One thing I still struggle with is how the choice to prioritise self-care often ends up isolating me, because I haven’t yet found many alternative modes of community participation.
Anyway, I definitely don’t have a solution, and I wouldn’t ever presume to know the one right or healthy way to navigate any of this — different things work for different people, or even for the same person at different times. What I do know is that I share Adams’ need for “community restoration and regeneration”, as well as her concerns about big media platforms exploiting these dynamics because they know blatant wrongheadedness means reactions, which means clicks, which means money — but it also means exhaustion and loneliness and hurt.
- Content filtering in UK public libraries. I have long since shared the concerns highlighted in this paper; it’s good to see them articulated so clearly and supported by such great research. I hope this is the first step towards change.
- Tim Coates on the latest CIPFA data about UK public libraries.
- When Teamwork Doesn’t Work for Women: Women get full credit, in terms of earning tenure, only when writing papers with other women. Writing one with a man has no impact on the female author, only the male.
- I have not yet seen The Force Awakens, but I really enjoyed Daniel José Older’s piece about it. I feel this sense of possibility too, and it’s done me a world of good.
- Why are there so few girls in children’s books?
- On a more hopeful note, I’m so excited about the upcoming Ada Twist, Scientist.