Welcome!

Aug. 31st, 2020 11:39 pm
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Greetings, traveller! Welcome to Highly's House of the Peculiar. Public posts are mostly bookish: regular reading updates (What are You Reading Wednesdays, only I normally do them on weekends), book reviews, and other bits and pieces.

Fandom-adjacent, but not a Fandom Blog. Links to fannish discussions occasionally, but would probably rather not end up on a fandom meta roundup. Don't mind if fandom accounts follow me, but probably won't follow back for fic or shipping centred accounts.

My photoblog crossposts to [personal profile] speculumannorum, and I also occasionally repost or unlock photo and poetry posts here.

Access locked posts tend to be personal navel-gazing: I do grant access, but usually only if I've interacted with you a bit first.
highlyeccentric: The Wiggles character Dorothy the Dinosaur (Dorothy the dinosaur)
Because lists are fun

1. Ich habe letze Nacht nicht genug geschlaften. Folglich habe ich wenig vor an der Arbeit gemacht.
2. Die Arbeit war nicht so schlimm.
3. Ich war am Nachtmittag sehr müde, aber ich habe im mienem Kapitel beendet.
4. Ich ging in das Lokal, wo ich eine Zeitschrift las.
5. Meine Zanhe mir den ganzen Tag wehtun*
6. Ich machte Nudeln zum Abendessen
7. Ich habe Feedback** für meine Schule geschrieben.
8. Danach, ich habe etwas Latein*** ubersetz und diese Liste geschrieben.


*tun mir den ganzen Tag weh?
** I have a strong suspicion that should be plural, in that i wrote multiple separate feedback sets, but how to pluralise a loan word?
*** unsure if i can use the name of the language synecdochically for 'text written in that language'. Probably. It works in French?

(I'm relying on a mix of google translate and the collins dictionary at this point - the past tenses are further ahead than my Duo progress, and the *vocab* for what I do every day is peculiar. Some things I'm translating out of French rather than English, and still others (Zeitschrift, I'm looking at you) I end up scouring a swiss website for because I do not trust either google or the dictionary to have the specialist nuance I'm after)
highlyeccentric: Book on a shelf, entitled "Oh God: What the Fuck (and other stories)" (Oh god what the fuck (and other tails))
Currently Reading:
Fiction: Yelena Moscovitch, Virtuoso, which has taken another turn for the Weird. It's *good*, but every time I get engrossed in a plot arc there's a massive switch, and currently I think there's two contradictory plots going on?
Lit Mag: Lifted Brow 'Blak Brow' edition, although I haven't picked it up for a while
Academic: Nothing
Other non-fiction: A. Revathi, The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story. It's proving to be a really ... readable read? The prose style is clear and accessible, like you're sitting down to take tea with Revathi. Although she's describing some pretty brutal stuff, there's a sense of warmth and hope suffusing the narrative.

Recently Finished:

My hard-copy finished reads this week were both academic: finally finished 'Contemporary Chaucer Across Centuries', and today read key articles out of the first issue of Emotions: History, Culture, Society. Have yet to annotate either.

Online fiction:
  • Aurelie Sheehan (Guernica Mag), The Suit. A bit of a Weird Fiction short piece, from her forthcoming collection.
    I wore a particular ’50s-style suit for almost a year when I was in graduate school. I realized what was going on one afternoon when I was standing in the English Department’s mailroom. I was a graduate assistant at the time. A man who had the name of another man was in the room with me, getting his mail. Soon he would die.

  • I also started listening to Under Pressure, one of Starship Iris' sister podcasts. I believe the series summary will suffice to explain why I, in particular, am delighted with its premise:
    In the wake of personal tragedy, Dr Jamie MacMillan-Barrie forgoes a future in academia is favor of an uncertain future in the form of an humanities residency aboard the Amphitrite, a deep-sea stationary research facility. On the Amphitrite, Dr MacMillan-Barrie tries to come to terms with her circumstance while facing her antipathetic hard-sciences colleagues, an unending series of minor crises both the personal and professional realm, and an increasingly hostile ocean above.


Up Next: I need to annotate the two academic reads I've finished, and then hopefully read the several more back issues of E:HCS I have on my shelf.




Music Notes:

The way you can tell I'm not actually a lesbian is I never got into Tegan and Sara. But I did recently find their cover of Dancing In The Dark:



I found it while I was looking for *this* cover,



Someone named Trevor Horn has done a whole album of these covers of 80s classics, and I'm in love with them.

I have also, late to the party, discovered Despacito, and Louis Fonsi in general.
highlyeccentric: Bill Bailey holding board with magnetic letters reading 'Frodo lap shame' (Frodo lap shame)
Short essays, current affairs, hot takes:


Longreads - essay, memoir, natural history, other
  • Constance Grady (Vox) What Do You Do When The Art You Love Was Created By A Monster. In argument it's saying the same thing as most #metoo based conversations about cinema and literature. In content, though it's striking: Grady speaks to three different literary profs about approaches that different schools of literary analysis take to the art/artist interface.

    But the idea of separating the artist from the art is not a self-evident truth. It is an academic idea that was extremely popular as a tool for analyzing poetry at the beginning of the 20th century, and that has since evolved in several different directions. It’s one possible way of thinking about art, but it’s not the only one.

    To get a handle on what all the options out there look like, I interviewed three literary critics on the phone. I asked them to walk me through how the idea of separating the art from the artist emerged, how it’s changed over time, and what the alternatives are in 2018. My hope was that by the end of our conversations, I’d have a better sense of how to solve my Edward Scissorhands problem — and how to deal with all the art created by men who have been accused of monstrous things over the past year of #MeToo. Here’s what I learned.


    I'm just so impressed with how the author of this piece and the scholars she interviewed break down and make relevant developments in critical theory.
  • Detan Jotanovic (Archer Magazine), Happy Valentines Day Me: how being single became central to my queerness. I think this is the first piece I've read on queer single/soloness for a long time that resonates with me in mostly good ways, in part because it's *not* about asexuality or aromanticity, just... singleness.
  • Shannon Palus (Slate), Why can't we have decent toilet stalls?. In covering the design and economics factors that go into your basic prefab toilet stall wall/doors, it doesn't mention what I expected would be the first line of defence of the humble toilet stall: it's easier to rescue a locked-in client from a stall that has a at the top of the door. The doors in my local pub are floor-to-ceiling, but fortunately the stall dividers aren't, because the other week one of the bartenders had to shimmy over to let out an old lady who couldn't operate the latch.
  • Dear Prudence (Slate), Should I move in with my hoarder boyfriend, featuring a really sterling example of sensible advice that's applicable in less extreme situations:
    He can be making important strides in changing long-standing habits and those changes may be insufficient for you to be interested in living with him—both of those things can be true at the same time. It’s necessary to distinguish between legitimate struggles that he deserves to get help and support with (like hoarding or anxiety in big groups of people) and harmful choices that he’s making (like picking fights with you to manage said anxiety). You also don’t have to stay in this relationship just because he saw a dentist, bought a few extra dressers, and stays out of the sun. If he considers the work he’s done over the last year to be bending over backward for you and you see it as just a drop in the bucket, then it’s time to call for a pretty serious timeout

  • Elissa Washuta (Guernica Magazine), White Witchery, on occult practice and sharing occult spaces with white women, as a native american practitioner.
  • Jake Evans (ABC news), Federal Candidate Tim Hollo discovered seven potential citizenships: on s44, migration history, and the difficulty of renouncing citizenships you didn't know you had


Items of humorous interest:
highlyeccentric: Manuscript illumination - courtiers throwing snowballs (medieval - everybody snowball)
Supplement to monday links, occurs irregularly.

Short essays, current affairs, hot takes: (Apparently it's Islamophobia o'clock in current affairs this week)


Not even dignifying the Daily Tele cartoon with a link. Good news is the Medivac bill did get passed, and Hakeem al-Arabi returned to Melbourne after two months in detention in Thailand.

Longreads - essay, memoir, natural history, other
  • Joanne Edge, (Welcome Collection researcher) Diagnosing the Past, on the perils and pitfalls of retrospective diagnosis.

    Retrospective diagnosis is by no means a done debate among historians of medicine – many colleagues who I respect a great deal will disagree with my position. I may even change my mind in future.

    But for now, I don’t see it as my job to impose modern categories of thinking onto past cultures. My role is to discover how medical practitioners and patients in the past thought about their illnesses – how they diagnosed sickness, what their treatments were, and how they described their diseases – in order to better understand the worlds they inhabited.


  • Suzannah Weiss (Bitch Media, 2017) interviews Hallie Lieberman (author of Buzz: A Stimulating History of the Sex Toy) on The history and future of sex toys. 'The story of sex toys isn’t from repression to liberation.'
  • Follow-up to Monday's link to the Dan Mallory exposé, Ruoxi Chen (Electric Lit), Dan Mallory is the oldest story in publishing.
  • Frank Bongiorno, On Louise Adler, Academic Publishing, and Cultural Barbarism - re intense pushback on MUP's decision to focus on academic publishing going forward, after expanding its range in recent decades. Bongiorno spots a strong streak of anti-intellectualism in the criticism of the change.

    I appreciate that Adler’s strategy was a legitimate and imaginative response to the challenges faced by anyone seeking to run a university press today.

    I equally suspect that the MUP has a bright future ahead of it as it pursues a different pathway. Jack the Insider’s vision of “an injection of dry, turgid, unreadable academic texts” is as absurd as his account of MUP’s past, when it supposedly “published books that did not sell or more properly found an almost microscopic niche within academia, selling in tens of copies at best”.

    This is a press that published Manning Clark. And, strange to report: he was a university professor.


  • Kristopher Jansma (Electric Lit), What Happened to Sylvia Plath's lost novels.
  • Sarah Laskow (Atlas Obscura), Where Old, Unreadable Documents go to be understood - interesting profile of someone who's turned palaeography into a marketable small business skill.
  • William McBrien (Archer Magazine), I'm the gay teacher you want the right to fire. Despite this eloquent piece, I think I remain the only Australian queer who thinks that protecting *children* from religious discrimination is a different order of priority to the unfortunate situation of adult queers/lgbtqetc folk who made a rational choice to enter the employ of a religious school. (And if we *are* going to get into the religious exceptions from anti-discrimination law, I want to start with strictly overseeing hiring processes that screen out pro-evolution science teachers.)
  • Ali MC (SBS news) interviews Aunty Lyn Austin re: the state of Victoria's refusal consider compensation or redress for the Stolen Generation.


Arts type things
  • Ali Choudry (Queerstories Podcast), Origin of the Modern Man. The podcast ends with a story about his photograph that was shortlisted for the Incinterator Prize, 'Origin of the Modern Man' (after Courbet's Origine du Monde). The photo (probably because it's explicit) can't be found online, but there's a detail image in the Incinerator Prize 2015 guide. The subject is a trans man, and in the podcast Choudry talks about creating the photograph in conversation not only with Courbet but to Orlan's Origine du guerre, which is a straight up dick pick in response to Courbet.
    highlyeccentric: Book on a shelf, entitled "Oh God: What the Fuck (and other stories)" (Oh god what the fuck (and other tails))
    Currently Reading:
    Fiction: Yelena Moscovitch, Virtuoso, which is still engrossing, but I am foolishly trying to read it on my phone and it's not suited to that.
    Lit Mag: Lifted Brow 'Blak Brow' edition, of which I read some more on the train to London last week
    Academic: Contemporary Chaucers, still.
    Other non-fiction: A. Revathi, The Truth About Me: A Hijra Life Story. Has been on my unread shelf since shortly after I read The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, because one way to fix the fact that I don't know enough about the Hijra community to know if Roy represents them well is to... actually read some Hijra writing.

    Recently Finished:

    The Good PeopleThe Good People by Hannah Kent

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    This is a dark, slow novel, with a sense of inevitable doom that builds slowly throughout. It has many of the historical fiction strengths which Kent exhibited in Burial Rites (Burial Rites really set a standard for me in historical fiction - I call it 'the sausage test': the scene where the female characters make sausages in Burial Rites is intricately detailed, gory by modern standards but prosaic to their eyes, incredibly clear that women's work is *work*, and used for deep character development work. The Good People has a few such scenes - the traumatic stillbirth scene is one). The people of this nameless valley on the Flesk live hard, grim lives, but not lives devoid of joy or complexity.

    The historical event fabric of this novel is more limited than that of Burial Rites: Kent had a few newspaper reports of relating to an infanticide trial, and has woven the fabric of this narrative - in which a recent widow, struggling with the care of her disabled grandson, becomes convinced he is a changeling - as a fiction out of deep historical and cultural research.

    I reserved judgement on disability, and in the end, I am disappointed )

    I'm actually quite surprised that nothing and nowhere online has commented on this book from a disability perspective? I legit found more engagement with the fact that Kent made a culturally insensitive slip-up when visiting Ireland by referring to the fey as a belief of the past than with the portrayal of disability here.

    Online fiction:
    • Theodore McCombs (Lightspeed magazine), Talk To Your Children About Two Tongued Jeremy. I had to switch to reading this instead of listening to it as a podcast, it was too sinsister/upsetting. Good story, well done, but disturbing.
    • Tony Ballantyne (Lightspeed magazine and podcast), Midway. You ever read a sci-fi and think 'space is wasted on straight men?' Yeah. There's a lot to commend about this but the underlying assumptions about a. what are the obvious things that happen in space among aliens and b. what the narrator expects the AUDIENCE to assume about him, all of that was... so straight man.
    • Marissa Lingen (Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine/podcast), The Deepest Notes of the Harp and Drum. I really liked this - an interesting take on Aarne-Thompson-Uther folklore motif 780.


    Up Next: No particular direction, yet. There are editions of both Meanjin and TLB I haven't read.




    Music Notes: Enjoying Kaleo's A/B, still.
    highlyeccentric: close-up image of pansies (the flower) (pansies)
    Short essays, current affairs, hot takes:
    • Robert Booth (Guardian UK) England's national parks out of reach for poorer people due to public transport cuts.
    • Natasha Bertrand (The Atlantic), Russia is attacking the US court system from within - links up evidence from a recent Mueller filling against a troll farm.
    • Spanish company CAF rejects tender for building a light rail in Jerusalem as it cross the '67 border, and the company will not violate international law. (Ma'an News)
    • Follow up to the 'colonisation of the Americas caused the Little Ice Age' article: critique from environmental historian Dagomar Degroot on Twitter. (TL;DR, it's by no means clear that the Little Ice Age began post-1492, and the study derived its estimate of pre-columban American populations by averaging all previous estimates, including dodgy ones. Article also doesn't sufficiently explain why reforestation in the Americas should outweigh deforestation in Europe and Asia in the early modern period enough to create a carbon drain.)
    • If you would like to read a reflective piece about someone making an OBVIOUSLY TERRIBLE CHOICE and just barely realising by the end of it how daft they'd been, Archer Magazine has an article by someone who gave their mother a vibrator. (The mother did give her endorsement to the article at least)
    • Literary agent DongWon responds to the advice that 'the people' want plot over feelings:



    Longreads - essay, memoir, other
    • Isabel Ronai (The Conversation AU) New study confirms what scientists already know: basic research is under-valued. Innovative/ground-breaking/cancer-curing research is built on basic exploratory science, and the latter is drastically underfunded.
      We need a new investment approach from government funding agencies. The best strategy for high-risk ventures, such as basic research, is to provide stable funding to a wide variety of projects to diversify the risk. If we cast a wider net, we ensure we will always catch one of these “big fish”.
      Funders can think of themselves as angel investors who are investing in a portfolio of start-up businesses (another type of venture that is high risk but also high reward).
      The expectation of government funding agencies needs to be that most investments in basic research will not provide a return on investment.

    • Ian Parker (The New Yorker), A suspense novelist's trail of deceptions: exposé on the many weird shenanigans of Dan Mallory/AJ Finn, including faking his own mother's death, and the fact that an author he was commissioning editor for seems to have commissioned a detective to figure him out (but won't admit she did so, and seems to have used him as inspiration for her novels).
    • Corelli Barnett (BBC history), The Wasting of Britain's Marshall Plan aid. If you're paying attention to UK twitter lately you may have seen some ill-informed conservatives being soundly mocked for the claim that Britain 'mortgaged herself' to free Europe and received no post-war aid in return. This is untrue! What's even more fascinating is the story of how, exactly, it came to be that Britain claimed more Marshall Aid than any other European country, but spent so little of it on infrastructure.
      The dream of Britain as a global power also included the 'invisible empire' of the Sterling Area, to which Britain chose to play the banker. This was despite the fact that her reserves of gold and dollars were well known in Whitehall to be far too scanty for this role. By the end of 1947, the American dollar loan had already been largely spent, but the gulf still remained between the cost of Britain's self-inflicted global commitments and her inadequate earnings from exports. Without another huge dollar handout, Britain would have to give up all her global strategic commitments, as well as her role as the banker to the Sterling Area, and accept that she was now only a second-class power.

      all the illusions and follies of post-war British policy now reached their climax in the wasting of Britain's Marshall Aid )

      A few weeks back I linked to Pankaj Mishra's essay which describes Brexit as Partition come home to roost. There are references in this BBC essay to Britain's imperial policy - the delusion of the 'grand power' - but I would be particularly interested to read something that linked up this domestic economic failure with Partition / various other end-of-empire messes.
    • Electronic Frontiers Foundation, The mistake so bad even youtube says its copyright bot really blew it:
      YouTuber SmellyOctopus has over 21,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, and about 2,000 on Twitch. In early January 2019, SmellyOctopus did a nine-minute, private stream where spoke into his microphone to check how new technology he was using affected it. It was automatically uploaded to YouTube, where the Content ID system flagged 30 seconds of just SmellyOctopus’ voice as belonging to a company called CD Baby.And the results are ridiculous )

      Content ID is even more automated than you might think. It doesn’t just check for copyrighted material in its database and send notices when it finds a match, leaving it up to the copyright holder to determine if they should make a claim. No, what happens is that, if a match is found, a default option chosen by the content company when it joined Content ID is automatically applied to a video before it’s uploaded.

    • Na'ama Carlin (Meanjin blog) Ill met by gaslight. I had a skewed reaction to this due to the phrasing of one particular thing, but it's overall a good article.
    • Joseph Cox (Motherboard), Big Telecom sold customer gps data typically used for 911 calls. I'm unclear how this e-911 data differs from regular gps data (does it?), but: YIKES.


    Notable DW content this week:
    • [personal profile] liv has a post 'Stomping the Brainweasels' on her fear of making 'boring' posts. [personal profile] melannen has a notable comment in praise of boring journals: 'Just, the reassurance that there are people living incredibly boring lives and still being interesting people and time keeps ticking over was sometimes 100% what I needed to read on the internet.'
      I have seen many other people, both here and on twitter, lamenting the demise of LJ-era daily life blogging. Like all nostalgia it's rose-tinted, but I think it is fair to say that Boring Journals Are Worthwhile.
    • I haven't read it in the depth it deserves, but [personal profile] silveradept has a long post on Trust, Fandom, and Federation, with useful example from recent ALA controversies.
      What [personal profile] sciatrix hits on, though, is that part of the ability to know whether someone is going to be a trustworthy and committed moderator is by watching them make decisions about moderation and administration and seeing whether their ethics and ways of handling the problem are in accord with you. And to take a poke around their space and see if it's the kind of space that's favorable to people that you would find terrible. If the only way you can see whether someone's going to be good or terrible is by rolling the die and signing up with them, they're not going to attract a whole lot of people. Having a Code of Conduct out front is helpful, of course, but sometimes it's in seeing what happens when someone actually is accused of a violation that is most informative to someone about whether a space is going to be a good fit for them.
      Time for an example that has basically nothing to do with fandom, but is absolutely illustrative of how this sort of thing happens.

    • Astolat has another update to the signalboost bookmarklet, that now not only includes a warning if you try to boost a locked post, but also preserves html from the original post (links, usernames, etc). Here.


    This got pretty long, so I'm holding over a bunch of stuff for Thursday morning.
    highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
    (Some spoilers below. I was provided an e-ARC by the publisher in return for an honest review)

    I loved this book. It’s opening scenes, where a young Chinese-malaysian boy finds himself bound by oath to retrieve the missing finger of his recently-departed employer, an English doctor, captivated me immediately. The book is historical fiction, set in 1930s colonial Malaysia, threaded through with supernatural elements drawn from local belief systems. The two chief protagonists are the young servant boy, Ren, and an apprentice dressmaker, Ji Lin, although the two do not meet until quite late in the book. Working for his former employer’s old colleague, Ren searches for the missing finger, and finds himself watching on as a series of mysterious and sinister deaths - and rumours of a weretiger - circle around his new employer and the hospital where he works. Meanwhile, Ji Lin moonlights as a dance-hall entertainer to keep her mother out of debt, and finds herself at a loss when a client leaves her in possession of a bottled, preserved human finger. She turns to her stepbrother Shen, a trainee doctor, and soon both are sucked into the strange patterns of accidents and schemes at the hospital.

    I don’t think I can properly describe this book beyond that bare summary. It is complex, and delicate, and although deeply engaged with the supernatural, treats its magical elements with a gentle touch. It depicts a complex multicultural society in colonial Malaysia, through which the white colonists float in largely oblivious privilege - perhaps my favourite component was the way in which the narrative absorbs key white characters (the two doctors, and the daughter of a local plantation owner) into the magical plot while demonstrating that they remain cut off from actually understanding what is happening to and around them.

    My chief complaint is that I felt the end resolved too swiftly, and I wasn’t entirely happy with the semi-incest plotline between Ji Lin and Shen. Not that I necessarily have anything against the trope, but it wasn’t fully developed here, and, again, the ending left the whole situation rather too simplistic.
    highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
    Currently Reading:
    Fiction: Hannah Kent, The Good People, which shows the same impressive mastery of historical realism as Burial Rites. I'm not quite as engrossed, though, and am reserving judgement re: disability.
    Yelena Moscovitch, Virtuoso, which is still engrossing, but I am foolishly trying to read it on my phone and it's not suited to that.
    Lit Mag: Lifted Brow 'Blak Brow' edition, although I haven't picked it up for a while
    Academic: Contemporary Chaucers, still.

    Recently Finished:

    Online fiction:

    • Alex Acks (Shimmer Zine), 40 Facts About the Strip Mall Between Never And Was. Example:

      5. The candy shop was replaced by the costume shop. The smell of burnt caramel squeezes up from under the foundations on hot days and makes everything faintly sticky.

      6. The payday lender stands empty, with what were once its glass doors a gaping hollow. That’s where the grackles live, after they declared paper and electronic money anathema and peanuts the only currency.

      7. The little gas station has only two pumps, and one of them is always broken. No one buys gas; rather, they throw peanuts into the parking lot and walk away with coffee that tastes like burnt metal and cigarettes that trail green smoke.


    • Yoon Ha Lee (Beaneath Ceaseless Skies), Foxfire, Foxfire. I believe I picked up the link to this as a recommended introduction to Yoon Ha Lee's work, and ended up forgetting about it until I listened to 'The Coin of Heart's Desire' a few weeks back. It's as good as promised.
    • Natalia Theodoridou (Beneath Ceaseless Skies podcast & text), To Stab with a Rose, to Love with a Knife. Not paradigm-changing work, but sweet, with an interesting thread of cultural dislocation. I liked it for not going for the simplistic romance style ending. Ergo, if what you require from queer fantasy is HEA at all costs, you will probably not like it.
    • Yuko Tsushima, excerpt from Territory of Light (1979) (trans. Geraldine Harcourt, 2018), recommended by Catherine Lacey (Electric Lit Recommended Reading) as The light in this apartment is better without you in it. Absolutely gorgeous and I think I need to read the full novel.
    • Vin Jae-Min Prasad, (Uncanny Magazine) Fandom for Robots:
      Computron feels no emotion towards the animated television show titled Hyperdimension Warp Record (超次元 ワープ レコード). After all, Computron does not have any emotion circuits installed, and is thus constitutionally incapable of experiencing “excitement,” “hatred,” or “frustration.” It is completely impossible for Computron to experience emotions such as “excitement about the seventh episode of HyperWarp,” “hatred of the anime’s short episode length” or “frustration that Friday is so far away.”

    • I also read/listened to Robert Parks (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) An Account of the Madness of the Magistrate, Chengdu Village, but hesitate to recommend it, as I figured out subsequently that the author is an old white dude (playing around in Chinese mythology), and the kind who describes himself as an 'ex-pat Southerner' at that. It's got a tight plot, and I can't put my finger on any specifically offensive in it, but I read it not long after Yoon Ha Lee's 'Foxfire, Foxfire', and the... feel of the fox-spirit mythology as used here is different, certainly. I don't know enough about that myth to know if it's Wrong or just different.


    Have I mentioned Motherlover, a webcomic about moms and love? Chapter three just finished a few weeks back and I remain hearteyes at it - although I want to smack the Husband, I applaud Lindsay for creating a character who's not exactly a villain and yet so eminently hateable. I'm honestly surprised the narrative isn't about polyamory, he's such a perfect Type of that *specific kind of straight poly guy you know the one*.

    Up Next: The 'Unread Shelf Project 2019' challenge is an unread gifted book, and I also want to remedy the thing where my entire book-based reading this year has been pretty white, so I think A. Revathi's 'The Truth About Me' is high up the priority list.




    Music Notes: I bought Kaleo's 'A/B', and still listening to a fair bit of Tracy Chapman.
    highlyeccentric: To a nunnery go / actually, I was gonna go to GRAD SCHOOL (Nunnery or grad school?)
    I forgot to post about this back in January, but I saw the 15th Jan National Theatre Live broadcast of Richard II from the Almeida Theatre. Some thoughts:

    1. The language was beautifully delivered. I've never seen this one live before, so I haven't got a point of comparison, but the best parts were breath-stopping. The choice of play seemed timely, too: there's Something about hearing 'this sceptred isle, this seat of kings' on the eve of brexit. Likewise the spectacle of a tiny elite tearing themselves apart at the expense of a nation, that's also Timely.

    2. However, I wasn't sold on the staging and costuming. The choice to work with a box set with no exits I actually liked - someone in the intro interview described it as 'claustrophobic', and I think that really brought out an aspect of the play that's easily missed as you're reading it (with all the 'a room in x place' and 'near such and such' scene opening tags). But the green-grey container-ship style I did not like at all, and I spent way too much time staring at the divisions between bricks in the walls. I also think the costuming made an awkward, unsatisfactory compromise between neutral non-characterised 'actors in black and grey' and actual characterised costuming, and they didn't do *enough* of the 'have an a single costume item or prop to distinguish a particular character from several played by the same actor' thing. Likewise, the hurling buckets of blood was effective for the scene but left us with several random characters played by the same actors inexplicably bloodstained.

    3. Really couldn't grok late-middle-aged Richard II. Good actor, but... John of Gaunt was *younger* than him, it didn't work at all. Took away a key aspect of the Richard-Henry foil/balance relationship, too.

    3.a. The buckets of mud and dirt in the garden scenes and the heaping dirt on Richard's head toward the end was A Good Effect.

    This has been A Report On Culture.
    highlyeccentric: Teacup - text: while there's tea there's hope (while there's tea there's hope)
    Short essays, current affairs, hot takes:
    • You may have heard about the study reporting links between gum disease and Alzheimers. The NHS breakdown is worth a read. TL;DR version: study not unreliable per se, but the projections toward a vaccine are very speculative and note that they're coming from the study members who work for the lab that hopes to make the vaccine.
    • BBC report on the Pitt Rivers returning anthropological specimens. Not a revolution, more an acceptable minimum, but it's nice to know the Pitt Rivers are being half-decent.
    • Vox.com video on how marginal tax brackets work is useful if you're confused about tax policy and/or your personal finances, and sort of soothing even if you know how this works already. Examples are US brackets, but the system is similar in Aus and (afaik) anywhere else I've paid tax.
    • Jade Alburo, Twitter thread on archival bias, reporting an story told by Prof Long T. Bui about the Vietnam Center and Archive in Texas.

    • SBS news, Three month religious service stops as asylum family pardoned: bit more complex than the headline suggests (the family haven't had final confirmation they can stay), but Dutch law prevents authorities from interrupting a church service. So when an Armenian family sought refuge, the congregation conducted non-stop worship for three months, keeping the family safe. A Good Use of a religious privilege.
    • NY Times reports that one Brooklyn jail has been running on minimal to no heating during the polar vortext. Somehow I doubt this will be fixed by Monday.
    • Behrouz Boochani wins Australia's richest literary prize for 'No Friend But the Mountains'. His translator accepts the award for him, because, of course, Boochani remains unable to enter Australia.


    Longreads - essay, memoir, other
    • Ana Valens (Daily Dot), Mastodon is crumbling and many blame its founder. TL;DR, not the paradise for queer users that some Tumblr refugees described. Although I gather that Mastodon is not the same thing as the 'fediverse' at large and Federated Fandom might be gravitating to Hubzilla (?).
    • Gina Mei (Electric Lit), Learning to cook for one.
      Can loneliness be taught? Can it become a habit? Can it be unlearned? I’m not sure — but for me, it has always been a safety blanket.

      Unlike Anita Lo, however, I hate cooking for myself )
    • Jonathan Amos (BBC science), Colonisation of the Americas cooled the earth's climate (Colonisation kills, depopulation leads to reforestation for formerly agricultural lands, creates carbon sink)
    • Steve Down (The Saturday Paper AU) profiles Joel Bray, Wiradjuri dancer and choreographer.
      Dancer and choreographer Joel Bray nervously greets 20 of us at the door of his Sydney city hotel suite and ushers us inside. His underwear is strewn about the room and he asks us to put on a hotel-issue black dressing gown over our clothes and take a seat wherever we can find one. His lithe, nude body is sheathed in an identical robe.

      Bray meets our apprehension with studied anxiety, nervously pouring us drinks before crumpling at all angles on the floor, his face frozen in a rictus. He bounces up and dashes onto the bed in the adjoining room, holding up a Holy Bible as though it is a haloed digest of forbidden hunks, which, depending on your taste, it may well be.
      What the opening paras of the profile don't say is that this hotel encounter is in itself the theatre piece, not just what happens when you interview Joel Bray.
    • Kathryn Vandervalk (Electric Lit), Stop assuming that I'm just writing about myself, an essay that covers the problematic fact that marginalised authors (and the author notes that as a white woman she's hardly the most marginalised) find their work reduced by audiences to assumed autobiography. It goes on, though, to some comments on the really interesting character/author boundary: if you assume what happens to the character is what happened to the author, are you also assuming that what the character thinks is what the author thinks?
      Once, I read a piece in workshop where the protagonist with the same “sandy blonde hair and erudite glasses” as the author was also a Christ figure with an exceptionally large penis. That personal myopia is different from the myopia an author constructs when writing from the perspective of a single character )
      I don't really have a pithy comment here, but this is a problem I think about a lot in so many contexts.
    • Peggy O'Donnel (Jezebel) The settler fantasies woven into the prairies dress
    • Lily Cho (Hook and Eye) has an essay on crying at work that says all the usual things you'd expect about gender, emotion, and types of work. It's conlcuding paragraph says something about the way Cho experiences emotion itself, that struck me (although I'm not sure I understand it fully):
      “Unlike replicants,” Terada argues, “zombies don’t experience themselves as though they were someone else” (Terada 2001: 157). There is something noble about the zombie’s undivided desires, the clarity of it, that I would like to replicate but I know that I can’t maintain it. I can’t feel without division. The best I can do is to recognize that the expression of intense emotion — let’s call it crying in a meeting for now — is a deeply alienating moment where I am experiencing myself as though I were someone else. It is not fun to feel this way but it is a discomfort that I have to hang on to because I want to be alive to the difficulties and the deeply divided desires at the heart of all the good fights that I want to keep fighting.
    • Simon Caterson (Meanjin Blog) Present tense: W.B. Yeats' The Second Coming at 100

      While ‘The Second Coming’ arises out of the unique creative partnership between Yeats and Georgie, there is another aspect which makes it universal and timeless and which is not private and abstruse at all but universal and indeed may seem obvious once it is pointed out.

      Quite simply, what gives lyric poetry of the kind revived and mastered by Yeats so much of its power is the mere fact that it is written in the present tense.

      the poem is always happening, the prophecy endlessly experienced )
      I love that poem and I love my problematic weird uncle Yeats.
    • Hana Pera Aoake I'm not single or taken I'm at the gym. Has a real way with words, for talking about depression. May not be safe reading if you have weight/exercise/etc issues (or it may be therapeutic. Mileage may vary.)
    • Lucie Shelley (Electric lit) interviews Kirsten Roupenian about her short story collection (from which the viral hit Cat Person was drawn).
      KR: Universality is in the mind of the reader ) if I read and loved Stephen King when I was an eleven year old girl who’d never seen a monster, why shouldn’t some theoretical crotchety old man be able to enjoy a book about monstrous teenage girls?


    Items of humourous interest
    • Meet the four cats playing Captain Marvel's pet cat Goose.
    • Tessa Smith (tesselationsinnature blog) consults with zoologists Jack Ashby and Kotaro Tokana to rank toy wombats by scientific accuracy. Jack Ashby, he of 'it's like someone shaved a hedgehog and made it have babies with a seal' is really funny both about accurate and inaccurate wombats.
      Jack Ashby: The shape is great: the head sags glumly downwards, the back and bum are round, the legs are barely discernible from the body. I love it. They mixed the lighter ears of (some) common wombats with the lighter eye-rings of (some) hairy-nosed wombats, and the toe-count is wrong again, but its overall wombattiness is excellent.4.5


    Notable DW content this week:
    • Siderea, Rent and reputation, on why US landlords consult credit scores but your rental history doesn't contribute to your credit score. First few parts baffling but interesting if you're not from the US; the last of 5 parts gets into some of the interesting theory of surveillance.
      This is one of the regular issues with surveillance systems. It's potentially bad for you if someone amasses a dossier of data about you, sure. But it's potentially even worse if that dossier represents itself to be complete but is not.

      Then you wind up in situation like this one, where people discriminate against you in business dealings, due to absence of positive data - or simply absence of data.

      One of the problems with surveillance systems is that they can, as they become normalized, perversely drive people to "opt in" to those systems, to make sure the surveillance system has enough data, as well as the right data.

      This is one of those two-level attitude things, where you might hate the idea of this information about you being tracked and traded, but if it is going to be tracked and traded, you want to make sure its as favorable as possible.
      Unfortunately, this situation drives people to maximize their exposure to data collection.
    • [personal profile] redsnake05 has another post of fashion spreads interpreted. This time Annie Lennox's repressed doppelganger works in an office.
    • [personal profile] muccamukk has a post of Questions About Federation (the social media system, not Australian politics), including key questions such as:
      • What happens if whoever runs that instance flounces? Does the pictures go bye? If not, where does it go, and who pays for hosting?
      • How does the "We'll spread the server cost!" thing fit into this?
      • I post a picture of an eagle, where is that picture hosted, who is paying for it, and who has the ability to remove it?
      The comments have a lot of people echoing these questions, and some answers, of which I recommend [personal profile] impertinence's thread here.
    highlyeccentric: A seagull lifting into flight, skimming the cascade (Castle Hill, Nice) (Seagull)
    I must preface this by saying that I’m a bit burned out on romance novels right now - I came to the genre because I wanted character-focused narratives about queer people and queer relationships, and romance seemed to be where it’s at. But I’ve read enough now that I’m looking for novels to offer me something more: something beyond ‘girl meets girl’. Which is, fundamentally, not what the romance genre is here to offer me.

    With that in mind, this is a perfectly functional romance novel. It features Tess, a marine biologist and commitment-phobe, forced by circumstance to move to her small town home for a short period. Enter Britt, a chemical engineer who, until the day this book opens, worked for a major oil corporation. Britt has an environmental awareness crisis, flees her job, and parks herself in rural upstate Washington to figure out her next steps.

    I’ve said before that I really appreciate romance and crime novels that are set somewhere very specific and offer very specific windows into that place or a particular industry or social scene. It is true that I learned more about the fauna of the Olympic Strait from this book, but I already know a fair amount about applying for scientific funding, and I’m afraid *that* plotline was not only unenlightening but actively stretching my suspension of disbelief.

    Tess has a complex backstory and several interesting sub-plots: her family are supporting cast, and her resolving tensions with her sister provides a satisfying side plot. Tess has friends from her outside life and they appear (late in the book) as rounded characters. The same can’t be said for Britt: her entire non-romantic plotline is to do with Having A Crisis Of Career and Enviromental Ethics, and I was not satisfied with the vague nods toward a new plan that came in at the end. Within the romantic plot, her defining feature is supposed to be that she is *not* a commitmentphobe (and thus incompatible with Tess), but what is actually shown of her relationship history completely failed to convince me of that. Add to that that she seems to have no friends, nor *want* friends, I found her side of the romantic plot difficult to accept.

    Finally, I really thought this novel was going for HFN, which I *like*, or at least the creative ‘HEA but in different cities for now’, but there was a pointless coda assuring us they signed a joint lease *even though one of them is only going to be in that town to visit her partner*. Possibly this is a necessary component of a happy ending for many people, but I find it actively off-putting.

    I recieved an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)

    [personal profile] highlyeccentric posted: Jan. 30th, 2009

    I just sent off my enrolment for 'Beginning German 1' through the ANU continuing ed. people. Twenty hours, 6-8pm on a Wednesday from some time in March. Some people take dancing lessons or go to the gym or join dog-walking clubs... I collect languages. And hey, this one isn't dead yet!



    Folks, I have not changed much in 10 years. I have a little bit more German, though.
    highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
    Behold, a week in which I finally finished some things!

    Currently Reading:
    Fiction: Yelena Moscovitch, Virtuoso, which I'm really enjoying but wishing I hadn't decided to read on my phone
    Lit Mag: Latest issue of The Lifted Brow, the Blak Brow issue
    Academic: 'Contemporary Chaucers Across Time', Stephanie Trigg's feschrift
    Other: n/a

    Recently Finished:

    At Swim, Two BoysAt Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'Neill

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    Wow. This was... very slow going (I think it took me four months), although I don't know that that was the book's fault so much as my weird brain-state post PhD.

    I enjoyed it, I was moved by it, I admire it as a piece of craft, and more importantly, I will be chewing it over for a long time afterwards.

    In the end, the central character for me was MacMurrough. I think you could make a fair case for it being Jim, but I felt in the very final pages, it was not Jim we were seeing, but MacMurrough's impression of Jim.

    Long and complex thoughts hereunder. Nota bene, reference to predatory behaviour )

    In short, while I enjoyed it, many wouldn't. I suspect there's also a subset of people who would find it rewarding to study (I would) but not to read for fun. I think I'd love to teach it, although the problematics of teaching a text like this are... many and various, and not being a specialist in either Irish or contemporary lit I might be safer sticking to my own specialist field's problematic texts.

    WinterWinter by Ali Smith

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars


    This was a well-written book, quite readable for stream-of-conscious style. Unless you're such a fan of Ali Smith that more Ali Smith is always the right answer, though, I don't really see what this one has to offer that Autumn didn't already provide. Some meditation on what the point of activism is if the world is truly cooked, and some more on art and/or/vs politics. But where Autumn utterly engrossed me, this seemed a bit samey.

    Poetry:

    No new online fiction, but I went to a poetry reading by AK Blakemore. I have mixed feelings about her poetry - in general I think I liked the newer material better. Of what I can find online, I recommend 'the new men', from this pair of poems published in Hotel magazine:

    Up Next: Hannah Kent's The Good People, from the library. Something else from my hard copy shelf, as a matter of urgent clearing-out.





    Music Notes: I noted last week that I discovered Bishop Briggs? Chalk up half a week's obsessive binge-listening, broken only by (I can't recall how) discovering that Florence Welch and Josh Homme did a Live cover of June Carter and Johnny Cash's Jackson.

    I love it. They look so mismatched together! Their styles are so wildly different, it's like they triangulated and ended up at country music. I love it so much. Bought Florence's MTV live album for the sake of that song.
    highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
    Short essays, current affairs, hot takes:
    • Patrick Butler (Guardian UK), Deprived Northern areas worst hit by UK Austerity. Unsurprising news, interesting analysis. Especially coming from an Aussie perspective, when this talks about a city and country divide I instinctively expected to hear that the country areas are worse off - but no! Apparently not! (Although it looks like the worst hit are what in Australia would be called 'regional centres', major cities like Liverpool and Glasgow are also doing pretty badly)
    • Karen Wyld is raising an indigogo campaign for a Cook gets cooked commemorative cookbook, as an indigenous-focused alternative to the inevitable 2020 mythologising of Cook's first sighting of Australia.
    • Sam Levin (Guardian US) How a California police officer protected Neo-Nazis and targeted their victims for prosecution
    • I think DW won't embed the twitter video, but this extract from a short film interviewing survivors of three different genocides (the Holocaust, the Albanian genocide, and the genocide in Rwanda) on 'warning signs', made by Adam Wagner as a Holocaust Memorial Day piece, is worth following the link through to watch.


    Longreads - essay, memoir, other
    • Heidi Norman (The Conversation), Mary Jane Cain: land rights activist, matriarch, and community builder.
      For the communities of Coonabarabran in New South Wales and her grasslands Gomeroi people, Mary Jane Cain is a revered figure. Cain lived from 1844 to 1929. In the late 1880s, she successfully advocated for Aboriginal land security – a rare concession to an Aboriginal woman at the time. In 1920, she penned a 23-page manuscript detailing her life, her observations of new land owners and their workers, and a list of Gomeroi words.

    • Margareta Windisch (Overland), The right to be cool, even during a heatwave. Discusses heatwave deaths as natural disaster, and the insufficient public health response.
      For the most unfortunate Melbourne residents, unable to afford private air-conditioning or access public heat refuges (promoted as ‘primary heat preparedness’ mechanisms in public health policy), stifling homes became both sites and agents of mortality. The loss of life during that period [Jan 20114] was nothing short of a disaster: mortality increased by 24% with 167 deaths attributed to the heatwave. The high death rate was not an aberration and neither did it create an outcry, even though heatwaves have killed more people in Australia than any other natural disaster.

    • Joseph A McCartin (NYT), Regan vs Patco, the strike that busted the unions. Useful context for the recent air traffic controll situation and its impact on Trump. I suspect this may also have links to Howard's union-busting in 1998 (which I linked to a few weeks back) - certainly the strategies are similar.
    • Paul Soulellis (Archive.org), Queer Archive Work.
      Likewise, the public domain is a remarkable construction that allows us to define who is or isn’t included in normative narratives. The public domain proclaims certain material as property owned by no one; cultural material in the public domain, theoretically, belongs to everyone. As copyright law enables new content to enter the public domain each year, it’s important to look closely at which voices are amplified in the celebration of open culture. There is no actual public domain. There is no site or territory or designation that reflects an authentic condition of making public.
      Rather, it’s a legal status created by those who control access. The institutions that define the public domain—museums, libraries, courts, archives like this one—give (or deny) access to materials that have been legally designated as open and available. But as an institutional construct, the public domain can easily fail to reflect any true nature of “the public;” without careful consideration, access to the public domain ends up repeating and perpetuating, in a highly predictable way, the same oppressive structures that govern society and culture.

    • Peter Thompson (Archer Magazine), Trauma and Homophobia: becoming sexual in my late forties. Discusses some pretty rough stuff, including assault and conversion therapy, but is ultimately an optimistic, sweet read.
    • Kathryn Schultz (The New Yorker, 2015) The earthquake that will devastate the Pacific Northwest. Contains some fascinating science-history reporting, including how they figured out the Cascadia Subduction Zone is a quake-active region (not by asking the local first nations, of course). And some terrifying prospects. As I understand it, a lot of the internet has servers in the PNW.
    • Trevor H Worthy (The Conversation AU, 2014), A case of mistaken identity for australia's exinct big bird. TL;DR eggs previously thought to be Genyornis newtoni (looks like an emu, related to a Moa, and also to ducks) actually belongs to Progura (looks like and related to brush turkeys). I did not know about either of these large birdies before! I am now a fan of the Very Large Prehistoric Ducks. The question of why and how they went extinct is now up for debate again (since the deductions about their sudden demise were based on the fossil eggs that turn out not to be theirs).

    Notable DW content this week:
    • [personal profile] muccamukk posted: New Meta Newsletter, Signal Boosting, Linking, Dogpiling, and History, which contains a really astute analysis of the likely pitfalls of widespread signalboosting on DW - the only such discussion I've seen that remembers that LJ era fan discourse got pretty heated too. Muccamukk notes she was just involved in a Wrong On The Internet dispute that blew up fast because she linked to it, although it resolved relatively calmly within a week.
      That is not always how these situations have ended though. I will fully admit that I took part in the J2 Haiti Fic pile on (and am memorialised by FanLore for doing so). At the time, it seemed really clear cut. It was right after RaceFail; the fic was indeed racist. It was a time when fandom was already talking about how to deal with racism in fandom. The discussion took off. Probably a hundred people wrote meta, including me, picking apart the OP's behaviour, and if we considered at all how the OP felt about it, it was that either a) they had it coming, and/or b) they were less important than the conversation that was happening. There was a feeling that fandom needed to have that conversation, and yeah it probably did, but looking back on it now, I don't think we needed to have it at the expense of some poor schmuck who wrote an offensive RPF fic.

      Muccamukk goes on to offer a new policy for their negative signal boosts (one may be as ragefilled as one likes in Mucca's post, but one may not go be mean to the OP from Mucca's links).
    • [personal profile] staranise works through some useful human interaction skills, to do with feelings and how to communicate them.
      So part of figuring out how to express this emotion is to think, if someone becomes really concerned by my plight, what kinds of actions do you want to point them towards? This is both something my client can work towards personally, and a quest they can invite other people to join in on. We took the catastrophically huge emotion, "I feel alone all the time and I'm afraid I'll be alone forever," and worked backwards. If someone understood this fear and worked empathetically to allay it, what kinds of actions would we see from them? So my client said: "They'd invite me to things, I'd hang out with them, we'd have friends who did stuff together."
      A bite-sized serving of this emotion therefore becomes: "I wish I had friends. I wish I had people to hang out with. I'm lonely here."
      And then, instead of leaving it there and leaving your listener totally in charge of fixing your feelings, you tell your listener what actions you are taking to deal with that feeling. This is work they can encourage you in, validating both your loneliness and your effort. They can also, if they want, assist you.

    • Also [personal profile] staranise has good thoughts about The Princess Bride.
    highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
    So that's where all my time goes, other than Duolingo. I'm reading a lot of longform journalism, apparently.

    New policy: Link post goes up on mondays, and a supplementary post on thursdays if I've got too much content.

    Short essays, current affairs, hot takes:
    • Lily Cho (Hook and Eye), On being published and having no idea, on some of the more unhealthy clauses embedded in academic publishing contracts. NB: academics do not have agents, and negotiation on contracts is not a thing.
    • Notches Blog interview with Melissa Hackman re: her book Desire Work: Ex-Gay and Pentecostal Masculinity in South Africa. A bit thin but I'm intrigued by how Hackman frames the concept of 'desire work'.
    • Mya Nunnaly (Book Riot), on Why so many female-authored fantasy works are awkwardly classified as YA regardless of content. There are some key threads missing from this analysis - chiefly the demise of the sub-genre 'romance fantasy' in the 90s, and the role of comparison texts in book marketing (see longread link on comps below), but still interesting.
    • Tasnim Sammak (Djed Press), on the vigil for Aya Maasarwe and conversations with her father.
      A New York Times reporter joined us. She interviewed me and a friend of mine, at one point stating: “Aya’s father seems very composed in a time like this.”
      I wanted to say yes, he is quite composed. I wanted to say, Don’t you know of Palestinian grief and sorrow? It is our forte. While white men are unhinged over a Gillette ad, Palestinian men’s cheeks are marked with the scars of tears that haven’t stopped falling since 1948. Tears over genocide, settler-attacks, expulsion, home demolitions, imprisonment and now this—rape and murder—where? Clearly not the land of freedom and opportunity, but in a similar oppressive state built on settler colonial, supremacist, patriarchal violence.
      But I didn’t tell this white female reporter any of this.

    • Jennine Khalik, An angel, a diamond: Aiia Maarsarwe's Palestinian identity was erased after her death. Australian media will refer to almost anyone else by their ethnicity rather than their citizenship, but not, apparently, a Palestinian citizen of Israel.


    Longreads - essay, memoir, natural history, other

    • Emily Rutherford (for History Workshop), Never in the presence of any woman, on homoeroticism and elite education. Why did one benefactor make a condition of his bequest that Corpus build a tunnel between the professor's rooms and the students', that they might visit one another at any hour? Why did that not cause Corpus college a fit of the vapors in the early 20th century? Read and find out!
      Second, Warren’s story offers new insights into the history of male homosexuality in Britain and its connection with elite single-sex educational institutions. Historians, including myself, have previously emphasized the importance to the emergence of male homosexual identities of figures such as John Addington Symonds ,who promoted ideas about homoeroticism that de-emphasized sexual intercourse. But new research is showing that sex was more important to how early-twentieth-century elite men conceptualized and negotiated homoeroticism and homosexuality than has previously been supposed. In certain institutional contexts, among certain socioeconomic groups, and at certain moments in the life-cycle, homoeroticism and homosexuality in Britain have been, even if criminalized, also normal and normative. In spending his latter years living in rooms in an Oxford college while privately circulating writings defending a classicized conception of pedagogic eros, Warren was not so unusual as one might imagine. Furthermore, he found a home in an Oxford college because his reactionary and misogynistic views seemed more important to the administrators of that college than his potential to attract scandal.

    • Laura B. McGrath, of the Stanford Literary Lab, who do computational data things to literary topics (for LARB), Comping White - on how the choice of comparison books both affects and reflects systemic race bias in publishing.
      And if no comp can be found? )

    • Judith Butler, (New Statesman), The backlash against 'gender ideology' must stop. None of it new news, but useful if you need a clear and straightforward primer on key concepts like sex vs gender, both being socially constructed, what 'constructed' means, etc. Notable for being the first actually lucid writing I've ever read from Butler. If I was teaching lit/gender stuff at the mo I'd be using it at once.
      We are assigned a sex, treated in various ways that communicate expectations for living as one gender or another, and we are formed within institutions that reproduce our lives through gender norms. So, we are always “constructed” in ways that we do not choose. And yet we all seek to craft a life in a social world where conventions are changing, and where we struggle to find ourselves within existing and evolving conventions. This suggests that sex and gender are “constructed” in a way that is neither fully determined nor fully chosen but rather caught up in the recurrent tension between determinism and freedom.

    • Anna Hájková (Notches blog), Queer History and the Holocaust. Really good intersectional work here.
      Queer victims rarely feature in the historiography of the Holocaust. One of the reasons for this neglect is that they complicate the dominant categories of analysis: we usually regard persecuted homosexuals as gentiles and Jewish victims as heterosexual. The very idea that these two categories could intersect often provokes discomfort, rooted in a historic homophobic stance towards same-sex behavior in the concentration camps. Longer quote herunder )

    • Stephen Jorgenson-Murray (CityMetric) Ducks and the City: How Birds Thrive in Urban Spaces - great read on urban avian adaptation, urban bird conservation, and fun bird facts. Marred by the inexplicable assumption that Australians regard kookaburra laughs as annoying (wtf? has this man ever spoken to an Australian?).
    • Karl Smallwood (Todayifoundout), Do scientists ever name creatures out of spite? Answer, not normally: the parasite named after Obama, for instance, is described by its discoverer as 'It's long. It's thin. It's cool as hell.' However, Papa Linneaus himself named a 'useless weed' after a botanist he disliked. (H/T [profile] conuluy for the link)
    • Stephen T. Wright (Ars Technica), The Linux of Social Media, on the history of LJ. (Also H/T [personal profile] conulyContains the delightful fact that LJ comments came into existence because Brad wanted to post a snarky reply to one of his friends' posts, back in the day. Also contains proof that, yanno, the internet hasn't changed much, eg:
      Paolucci sums it up best: “Back in 2007, at the height of the burnout phase, when we were all going for the gallows humor, we joked that we would post in the news journal that we were giving everybody $100, a pony, and a latte, and the first five comments would be people objecting that they couldn’t have caffeine, somebody saying they were allergic to ponies, and somebody going to a screed about how free money is the root of all evil in society,” she recalls. “It was black humor, but it was kind of true. There was an antagonistic relationship between the ‘power user’ and the people emotionally connected to the community versus the people making decisions for the product. There was no trust in either direction. That antagonism is really what doomed it.”

    • Michelle Alexander (NYT), on Palestine solidarity and the legacy of Martin Luther King.
    • Miriam Berger (Foreign Policy magazine), Palestinian in Israel, on the increasing unpopularity of the official government category 'Arab Israeli', and growing preference for identification as 'Palestinian' amongst those groups.
      Arab-Israeli—the official media and Israeli government term for the 20 percent of Israel’s almost 9 million citizens who are Arab-Palestinian—is increasingly unpopular among the people it’s meant to describe. Only 16 percent of this population wants to be called “Israeli Arab,” according to a 2017 survey by the University of Haifa professor Sammy Smooha provided to Foreign Policy.
      “The largest now and the most growing identity is a hybrid identity, which is ‘Palestinian in Israel’” or a similar combination, Smooha said. longer quote hereunder )

    • Also Miriam Berger (Columbia Journalism Review), on the limitations of Palestinian journalism within Israel.


    Items of humorous interest:
    highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
    Currently Reading:
    Fiction: At Swim, Two Boys, which finally got its claws into me and ate my brain to the tune of 1/3 of the book on Sunday. There's a lot going on there, especially with MacMurrough.
    Also: Yelena Moscovitch, Virtuoso, which is promising but hasn't got its claws into me yet, and Ali Smith's Winter, which not only hasn't got its claws in but seems less promising than Autumn.
    Lit Mag: Latest issue of The Lifted Brow, the Blak Brow issue
    Academic: nothing, on account of finishing something yesterday
    Other: n/a

    Recently Finished:

    Maddern, McEwan, and Scott, Performing Emotions in Early Europe. Review copy. I haven't quite made up my mind what I think of it overall, but I do think if it had been able to be completed on time it would have been very useful to those of us involved in Emotions and Medieval Textual Media.

    Online Fiction:
    • John Chu (Tor.com), Beyond the El. Magic, family, grief, and paper dumplings. Relatively simple plot freights a lot of complex dynamics.
    • Yoon Ha Lee (Lightspeed Magazine podcast / online text), The Coin of Heart's Desire. A very young empress inherits a dangerous throne, and makes a bargain with a dragon.
    • Theodora Goss (Lightspeed Magazine podcast/text) Queen Lily. One part re-versioning of Through the Looking Glass through the POV of the white queen's daughter, one part story of an older Alice attempting to process the impact Wonderland and Rogson had on her as a child. Not... not easy going - there's that creeping feeling of 'oh no, what did he do, although nothing is specified within the text.
      “Lily? Lily? There’s someone here to see you.”

      The White Queen is hovering over her with an expression of concern. But then the White Queen always has an expression of concern. Her forehead, under her neat white cap, is permanently wrinkled.

      “It’s Alice. You remember Alice, don’t you?” The White Queen turns to Alice and says, “She hasn’t spoken for days. I’m not even sure how much she understands of what I tell her. At first I thought she was getting better because the coughing had stopped, but the doctor says we should prepare ourselves for the worst . . .”
      Alice presses her hand and says, “Thank you, Mrs. MacDonald. Can I sit with her for a little while?”
      “Of course, my dear,” says the White Queen. “I have to give George—Mr. MacDonald, that is—his dinner. I’m sorry my husband can’t see you—this is one of his bad days, and he has no strength for visitors. He’s so worried about Lily. After Mary died, he could not get out of bed for weeks. It’s just too much, isn’t it? A mother should not have to . . . Well. I’ll be back presently.” And then she leaves the room, her hands over her face, as though she can’t bear to see the dark forest closing around her.

      I had somehow missed the memo about Rogson (Carrol), so, uh, this all came as a bit of a shock to me. I suspect it's in conversation with Alan Moore's Lost Girls, but having never read that, I can't say how.
    • Ashok K. Banker (Lightspeed Magazine podcast and online text), A Love Story Written On Water. I have mixed feelings about this one: it's engaging, it's good worldbuilding, and I really like fantasy fiction that works in the modes of orality and myth, with slippage between the divine and human realms. However, a lot of how this story treats sexuality got my back up. One way of summarising this plot would be 'a man stares too long at a naked woman, and, instead of being pissed, she desires him because he's 'bolder' than the other men who courteously look away, and so she moves heaven and earth to sleep with him, but ultimately messes him around, as supernatural women are wont to do'. That's... reductive, there's more going on here. But still. There's a lot of 'she will give you pleasure' and 'had her whenever he wanted', and her lust is figured in terms of willingness to pleasure him, if you see what I mean.
      At any rate, it's first in a series, short stories linked to Banker's Upon a Burning Throne, which itself draws on the Mahabharata. Perhaps if I knew the mythological references, I would appreciate them more. (Ed: or, perhaps, were I more aware of Indian literary context, I might have already known he didn't have a great rep re women)


    Up Next: Nothing in particular. I still have a lot of NetGalley reads, some of which I think I will default on. I'm mostly feeling a compulsion to read *all* the Problematic Queer Literature. Every time someone complains about a queer classic I add it to my list. It's getting to be quite a long list.

    Publication: Speaking of EMTM, it's apparently out now. I got my offprint PDF, and my hard copy awaits me in Geneva.




    Music Notes: As a result of figure skating I discovered Kaleo, the band behind the Way Down We Go song from the Logan movie, and I'm love!

    Through listening to them on Spotify, I have also discovered Dermot Kennedy, who does a good line in pensive dude with piano. Likewise Bishop Briggs, British indie artist who has - on the bass of her lyrics - absolutely terrible taste in relationships, but impressive vocals.

    Also, I found this one a few weeks back: did you know Avril Lavigne put out a new track last year? It's sort of country-pop?
    highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
    Of late my WAYRW posts have been getting bottom-heavy - what started as a few links to online fiction at the end has turned into a linkspam. Linkspams are great, but perhaps this one deserves a separate ritual of its own. I've just discovered that a. Semagic still exists and b. it's interoperable with Dreamwidth (I only stopped using it because when DW first launched I don't think it played nice with Semagic), and can therefore be used to create running drafts! I now have a WAWYR template draft and a linkspam draft and a couple for my fannish alt account as well.

    Onwards, to Les Liens du Lundi!


    Short essays, current affairs, hot takes:
    • Anna Spargo-Ryan (Meanjin blog), The Best a Woman Can Expect

    • ‘Men need to hold other men accountable,’ says the disembodied social justice campaigner. Sure, but women make most household purchases, especially groceries and including grooming products. Women influence almost every buying decision in almost every family unit in western countries. Plus, women buyers represent a more profitable market for Gillette; their razors—this brand included—cost more but perform an identical function.

      NY Mag’s Josh Barro says the difference with Gillette’s campaign is that it ‘asks [men] to do something’. He suggests loyal customers may feel ‘accused’ by the brand. And if the public response is anything to go by, plenty of dudes do feel like Gillette is literally saying to their faces, ‘Sir, you are a rapist.’ But they’re a small proportion of the customer base. The point of this vignette is not necessarily to encourage men to self-reflect.

      This is not an ad for men. This is an ad for women.


    • Tufted Duck gives rise to a 'mega-twitch' in Werribee, Vic

    • Alice Yevko's twitter thread on links between her peers being outraged at Marie Kondo and the instability of housing in the UK right now:

    • Rebecca Shaw/Brocklesnitch, on the Queerstories Podcast: 102. The Sky is Gay (No transcript yet that I can find). Contains the memorable line 'The rainbow is ours. We won it fair and square in the war of leprechauns vs homosexuals.' It's right on the edge of too-cringey-for-me that a lot of standup lives in, and I have a love-hate relationship with sophistic arguments pursuing improbable ends, but I certainly laughed a lot at this and you might too.

    • Tom Gould (the 'You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack' guy), The Life-Changing Magic of Decluttering In A Post-Apocalyptic World. Cartoon. Notable panel caption: 'If an item does not spark joy, thank it and quietly send it on its way. But do so very quietly, so as not to attract the attention of the monstrous things beneath the earth.'


    Longreads - essay, memoir, other
    • Kate Wagner of McMansionHell (for Curbed.com), The myth of 'we don't make houses like we used to - material history of US homebuilding trends, H/T [personal profile] conuly for the link.

    • Pankaj Mishra (NY Times), on The malign incompetence of the British ruling class, which beautifully combines astute analysis and schaudenfreude.

    • It is actually more accurate, for those invoking British history, to say that partition — the British Empire’s ruinous exit strategy — has come home. In a grotesque irony, borders imposed in 1921 on Ireland, England’s first colony, have proved to be the biggest stumbling block for the English Brexiteers chasing imperial virility. Moreover, Britain itself faces the prospect of partition if Brexit, a primarily English demand, is achieved and Scottish nationalists renew their call for independence.
      It is a measure of English Brexiteers’ political acumen that they were initially oblivious to the volatile Irish question and contemptuous of the Scottish one. Ireland was cynically partitioned to ensure that Protestant settlers outnumber native Catholics in one part of the country. The division provoked decades of violence and consumed thousands of lives. It was partly healed in 1998, when a peace agreement removed the need for security and customs checks along the British-imposed partition line.

    • Gabriel M. Schivone (Electric Literature), Corporate Censorship is a serious and mostly invisible threat to publishing. Covers in detail a story I never heard before, about Warner corporate cancelling not only a Chomsky book but the entire academic publishing arm that had dared to contract it.

    • Jill Richards interviews Sylvia Federici for the Boston Review, on the topic of the Wages For Housework movement in the 70s. It explains a bunch of things I never understood about that movement, having only seen it referenced in passing.

    • Long quote )
    • Camille Nurka, Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery: Deviance, Desire and the Pursuit of Perfection (text of lecture given at the Women in Time Symposium, Nov 2018, Hobart). Gives a fascinating (at times disturbing) history of labiaplasty focusing on medical history and racialised european science. Also notable for a great 'mea culpa' re: Nurka's cultural studies background having lead her to dismiss the discipline of history. There are some confronting images from 19th century european medical texts.

    • Long quote. Argues labiaplasty note driven primarily by pornography. )


    Notable DW content this week:

    • [personal profile] redsnake05 asks What do we do with a problem like Mariam, or, a narrative interpretation of a Vogue Japan fashion spread through the structure of The Sound of Music. Image-heavy. Lightly delusional feeling to it.

    • It has been Declared, by internet consensus, that February shall be Shitpost February. [personal profile] sara makes the case for Shitposting in February, thus:
      Since I have suggested it twice in comments and people seem to like the idea, I now propose it formally, a solution to two experiences we might like not to have: one, February, when it rains, or is excessively hot, or is in some other way invariably unsatisfactory! a month from which we would like to be distracted until circumstances improve! and two, this illusion that DREAMWIDTH IS FOR SERIOUS, which...no, I am here to assure you that we have been entirely full of shit on this website since the dawn of same.

      I will probably not shitpost in February (because as well as OLD and ERUDITE AS FUCK I am TIRED), but I endorse this concept all the same.

    • If you wish to make your shitposting more thoroughly randomised, [personal profile] melannen has built a shitpost topic recombinator.. And a basic javascript guide to walk you through how to build such a thing yourself.

    • [personal profile] astolat built a bookmarklet that generates a pullquote from any DW post, with attribution, to be used in similar fashion to a tumblr reblog. Melannen tinkered with it and made a version that will warn you if you're pull-quoting from anything that's locked.
    highlyeccentric: Little Mermaid - Ariel - text: "I got nothin" (Got nuthin)
    1. Comment to this entry saying 'Ooo Shiney!' and I will pick 3 of your icons.
    2. Make an entry in your own journal (or just reply if you prefer) and talk about the icons I picked!

    [personal profile] used_songs picked:



    Okay, so, many moons ago LJ/DW era internet discovered 'oddly specific', a site that displayed photos of, well, oddly specific signs. I believe I got my KFC/Holy Grail icon image from there, too, although I had the pleasure of seeing that one in person in Canberra in 2010 or 2011. I think the site has now been folded into the Cheezburger empire, and last I checked, it just wasn't as funny as it used to be.

    Below, some choice Oddly Specific signs:
    Mixture of Engrish, deliberate jokes, and wtf )

    And that is the best explanation I can give for Be Aware of Invisibility.



    It me! I asked Dad to look out an old picture of me, age two-ish, proudly standing in a bucket (because I wished to caption it Mah Bukkit, yes I AM that person) and he found this too. Here I am, gleefully reading since long before I could actually parse text.



    This one is by jillicons. I picked it up from one of those 'here, i made these icons!' posts, and I just love the colours on it. I think I picked it up *before* I became semi-obsessed with birds, even.

    Comment if you would like me to select some of your icons!
    highlyeccentric: ('Confidences' Harold)
    Apropos of I-don't-recall-what on Tumblr I have suddenly discovered the art of Harry Wilson Watrous, and it is felicitous that his name is Harry, because... Harold. Harold.

    Exhibit:

    Edwardian women at a cafe table

    Sayeth the little doggie under the chair: 'Harold, they're lesbians'.

    Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13


    Opinions, please

    View Answers

    Cane has Big Top Energy
    4 (30.8%)

    Hair Bows tolerates Cane's bravado will put her in her place at earliest opportunity
    2 (15.4%)

    50/50 and you never know which way it's going until the petticoats are off
    7 (53.8%)



    More Watrous ladies hereunder )


    Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 10


    Harold

    View Answers

    He knew
    5 (50.0%)

    Clueless and they're snickering about it
    0 (0.0%)

    He totally knew
    5 (50.0%)

    He trained in Paris, honestly
    6 (60.0%)

    He invented a cryptid and as we know cryptids are queer culture
    2 (20.0%)

    You can't prove his wife wasn't a lesbian
    8 (80.0%)

    Profile

    highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
    highlyeccentric

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