Jan 10, 2016

Belated Sunday Links

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who commented on or sent me messages regarding my last post. Ordinary human kindness is a genuine comfort. I’m back in the UK now, and I’m doing my best to endure January. Also, I’ve been back at work these past few days; this, too, has proved an unexpected source of comfort, and a good way to get my mind off things — though I do of course miss having vast expanses of time to myself. My 2016 began with a lot of reading: I caught up on some of my favourite comics (Saga, Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel); I made considerable headway into my comfort reading list; I got through my library stack; and I polished off some non-fiction. For the moment I don’t feel the drive to write about any of it, but that might change in due time.

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.

7 comments:

  1. HAMILTON HAMILTON HAMILTON HAMILTON did I help to convince you to fall down the Hamilton rabbit hole? Does it make you feel all the things? Cause I was just listening to the last song and I mean every single time with "The Lord in his kindness, He gives me what you always wanted, He gives me more time" makes me cry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hanilton! More specifically, Eliza Hamilton, because she is the best and Who Lives makes me cry every time. You did SO MUCH, Eliza. So much.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Obviously time for me to get of my cave again and find out what the hell all this Hamilton talk is even about. Seriously, sometimes I feel soooooooo out of touch with the world.
    I am in love with your cat mug!

    ReplyDelete
  4. YES HAMILTON. Specifically: can we talk about the Schuyler sisters and how awesome they are forever? (I will fight anyone who calls Eliza Hamilton boring.) Also I do recommend listening once with the Genius lyrics at hand, because it helped me catch a lot of the layers LMM is playing with (plus there are optional annotations available if you want more context without reading a 740 pg bio).

    I want to sit down and re-read the Adams piece when I'm a bit more focused, because I'm resonating a lot with what she & you wrote. Personally, giving myself permission to speak about things a few years ago was a big internal step, and yet now I'm feeling more and more like it's not productive and not safe to continue doing so. So I'm trying to be more deliberate about what I say and where and how. And yet, if something bothers me, it's also very difficult for me to not say something about it, while at the same time I worry that I'm creating the very atmosphere of black-and-white opinionism that I dislike.

    Basically, it's a very fraught & complex issue that I'm still trying to work through, and I appreciate hearing other perspectives.

    (Also, apologies for the possible typos & length of this comment. I drank two coffees this morning and it was a Mistake.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wait, didn't I help you fall down the Hamilton rabbit hole too? I loved the article.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 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.

    Oh, Lord, this, exactly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I feel this way as well. It's complicated, isn't it? I still don't have a personal answer to it.

      Delete

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.