Jun 5, 2016

Sunday Links: Surviving Capitalism (Reprise)

Book pile: Black Boy by Richard Wright, In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri, Between Women by Sharon Marcus, Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
The current I-want-to-get-to-these-next portion of my TBR pile. We’ll see how it goes.

  • I love everything about this conversation between Laurie Penny and Moira Weigel, and now I desperately want to get my hands on Labor of Love:
    The tremendous emphasis placed on having “A Relationship” with a capital R — and “Defining the Relationship” — sometimes seems to lead people to devalue all other kinds of intimate connection, and lovers to treat one another worse than necessary. I like to think that all human interactions put us into relations with one another. And all relationships end — even if they last until death. That does not make them “a waste.”

    The cultural script that says that life, particularly female life, is still defined by a search for “The One” encourages us to devalue relationships that are crucial to our thriving — friendships and other forms of intimate connection. You see this in romantic movies and all kinds of pop culture representations — where, for example, your friends are a focus group you can dissolve once you have a mate.
  • Are You Successful? If So, You’ve Already Won the Lottery: “The human tendency to underestimate luck’s role has contributed to this troubling state of affairs by reducing the electorate’s willingness to support the public investments that make economic success possible.

  • Dawn Foster on Why We All Shared the Story About France’s Alleged Ban on After Work E-mails:
    People are as preoccupied with stories about their working lives as they are with their diets, hence why we see stories like the French email ban, the six-hour working day and even the Manhattan court typist repeatedly typing, “I hate my job” instead of working going viral: because most of us would like to work less but don’t feel we live in a secure enough economy and position to say or do so. Even if your boss doesn’t explicitly encourage you to be staring at the lit screen your iPhone from under your duvet at 2 a.m., there’s an implicit fear that if you don’t reply to emails and other colleagues do, you would be a shirker, someone not pulling your weight.
    I’m really grateful to work somewhere that doesn’t have this kind of work culture — I’ve seen what it’s done to people close to me.

  • Helaine Olen explains why buying coffee isn’t why any of us are in debt: “Giving up a latte or another such small extravagance in this environment wasn’t going to be enough. Yet the personal finance shills continued to tell people their problems were mostly of their own making.

  • A beautiful piece by Claudia Rankine on Adrienne Rich’s poetry: “One of our best minds writes her way through the changes that have brought us here, in all the places that continue to entangle our liberties in the twenty-first century.

  • From Libraries, over two generations:
    I saw those people there and we were on an equal playing field. They didn’t pay for their books either. We weren’t getting charity; we were just using the library.
    I think it would have felt harsh, if we hadn’t had that. It would have made life a little bit colder.
    There’s something about libraries which transcends even a love of books. They’re about a sense of society and your community.
    I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It’s why the notion of libraries being free is essential. Because every community has — should have — a spread of incomes. Schools are no longer that melting pot; they’re not, they’re separated out more and more, with private education and grammar schools. But the local library can be that shared space, and maintained to the age of eighteen, at least.
  • I’ve been afraid, this month, and I’m so sick of fear. This explains some of the reasons why: “An exit now, on the terms set by UKIP and the Tory right, would mean a big lurch to the right, both in terms of economic policy and in terms of the process that is really driving this referendum campaign: anti-migrant racism, pandered to by the political establishment for decades.

  • Sarai Walker lists ten novels about women’s political awakening.

  • Jo Walton writes about Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning. I have to resist new books that aren’t available at my library until after my trip, but this is one I really can’t wait to get my hands on.

  • Speaking of books that sound absolutely amazing but I can’t get for now, here’s Kat Howard discussing her new novel Roses and Rot with Sarah McCarry:
    [O]ne of the questions that I started with was, okay, who would you risk that much for? Who would you be willing to stand against Hell itself, or the collected might of Faerie, or something great and terrible, with odds that you would almost certainly not survive? Like, that is a powerful amount of love. And it’s not that I don’t believe that a pair of lovers could have that sort of connection, but that’s a story that gets told a lot—almost every “I’m going to walk into Hell, and I am taking my person back out with me” is a story about lovers.

    But when I asked myself that question, the first person that came to mind was my sister. She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when we were teenagers. And she survived—she’s a beautiful, amazing human—but I remember feeling so helpless at the time, because this was someone I loved so much, and would have done anything for, and all I could do was stand by. And so when I knew I wanted to write this story, I knew I wanted to put a pair of sisters at the heart of it.
  • My new favourite songwriter Julien Baker discusses Being Queer, Southern, Christian, and Proud.

  • Lastly, here’s Robin Wasserman on the many uses of “girl”, how they’re dependent on context, and the cultural narratives they hint at.

    1. Thanks so much for the links! I especially enjoyed the Penny and Weigel conversation. I have to say too that once I left academia, it became impossible to use the phrase "affective domain" because *nobody* knew what I was talking about! So I think it would be easier, if nothing else, to use "emotional labor." And yes yes yes to this: ". . . it’s amazing how many leftist men get incredibly uncomfortable when you start to apply ideas of labour and exploitation to gender relations." And yes yes yes to the whole latte argument, especially because it bolsters the idea of individual responsibility rather than systemic problems. Hate that! And lovely article on Adrienne Rich.

      1. I really think I'm going to cave and get the Weigel book (I'm on a book buying ban until my US trip). I strongly suspect it would be important to me, in so many ways.

    2. "Who is going to fix it if we all leave?" is something I think about A LOT when I'm talking to people who left the South. It isn't that I think any one person in particular has a responsibility to fix the problems in the South; but that attitude, collectively, that the only response to a flawed thing is to abandon it, worries me. In particular it worries me about my home, because of course the people who leave it are simply going to differently flawed places, and the people who have never been here like to pretend that the South's flaws are unique to it and not representative of biases and shittiness that exist around the nation (and in fact the world!). And this attitude of "goodbye South, you are not worth saving" is not so much an expression of morality as it is a denial of the existence of national problems.

      Which isn't even to say anything about how awful it feels as a liberal in the South to hear my supposed liberal allies scream gleefully on Twitter about how excited they are to never come to or think about my state ever again. Thanks, y'all. Not like the liberals down here need the support of liberals elsewhere to effect change, or anything.

      RANT OVER. :p

      1. Rant away! I posted that link partially for you, because it reminded me of frustrations I've seen you express over the years - so I'm very glad you found it! (Have you listened to her music at all? IT'S SO GOOD AND I LOVE HER SO MUCH.)


    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.