I really liked this piece (I do get some great pointers via FaceBook, like anything it's who you know, right?):
It resonates with a lot of things I've said here about history over lo these many years - that one example of something doesn't mean it was universal or even that it totally alters the narrative:
Whatever the evidence you have remember not to go too far beyond it. Imagine that you find a Saxon site in Kent, fine. Saying that ‘Kent was conquered by the Saxons’ as a result of your findings goes way beyond the available facts.
So very, very true.
And to mention my own annoying self-diagnosis medical instance, being banged on at great length at an academic institution party by somebody who claimed that they had worked out The Definitive Treatment for MS on the basis of their own experience (it involved, among other things, the fact that they had been drinking practically industrial quantities of diet coke) but that they were being a bit cagey because of wanting to patent it -
This was fairly soon after my brother's diagnosis (early 90s or so) and one thing that was apparent from the reading I'd seen (what with having unusual access to medical literature) was that MS is usually a remitting disease and quite serious debilitating episodes can be followed by more or less return to functionality. Also I was aware of the long history of things that had been taken to be the magic bullet precisely because of this factor.
(Am currently gradually recovering from a fairly severe version of my own invisible disorder, migraine. About which there are also People's Pet Theories. I have some food triggers - as my dr rdrz are doubtless aware with all my whinges about Surpriz Cheez or chocolate - but I wouldn't say that was the only reason. I have no idea, for example, what caused this one.)
(Chris Carter: still pretending the mythology makes sense. GIVE IT UP, CHRIS. EVERYONE KNOWS.)
I am actually feeling all warm and fuzzy even though I am sure the series will be a disaster. You guys! I met so many of you guys through The X Files! I got into online fandom through The X Files! I got into LJ through The X Files! I want to throw my arms around you like Muppet Angel.
I finished that book The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away yesterday, and still thinking about it. The contributors appear to be writers by profession, which has I suppose pluses and minuses, and even people who aren't writers would probably strive to impose some kind of narrative, though I felt that one of the issues might be the resistance to narrative of instances where friendships inexplicably fade, or blow up for apparently no reason.
I also felt that perhaps the selection covered a somewhat narrow range, in that the stories tended to skew to friendships of childhood/adolescence/early adulthood (with some exceptions), which are possibly going to drop away with life changes.
It additionally struck me that perhaps there are kinds of intense friendships, or friendships forged in the pressures of some situation, which don't have staying power (this was mooted in at least one of the essays).
Not much about the impact of the internet, or the role of online friendships, but that might be due to the fact that these were largely looking back to earlier stages of life from c. 2005.
(That Acker/Wark book I think pointed up very well the way that email facilitated rapid and exciting exchanges and how thrilling this was when it was a relatively new thing.)
While face to face contact is all very well (though I think its benefits may be overrated and it can be as thin and as superficial as any hasty 'like' on Facebook, surely?) and it helps in matters like having someone to hold a spare set of keys or feed one's pets in an emergency to have someone who is present in the near vicinity, I think there are problems with this WOEZ DIGITAL theme.
For one thing, it's not either/or, is it? I have been to all sorts of meetups f2f with people I first met in the plastic box - these things complement one another.
And for another, on the need for connection, there is surely an element of finding the people among whom one does not feel lonelier than when one is alone? I.e. the 'kindred spirits', 'fellows of one's totem'.
I've seen a lot of support and caring among people who may not ever have met in the flesh, online. (And I was sustained through my month in Urbana-Champaign by my personal virtual village.)
However, I'm not sure that friendship is something that there might be an app for: If only you could swipe right to find a new friend. Because I'm not entirely sure that that would work. Common interests are all very well, but there is that thing where mutual friends and acquaintances think that two people should meet because they have So Much In Common and it's a disaster, perhaps because there are subtle mismatches about the things in common, or whatever.
Sekkrit Projekt #ifitoldyouidhavetokillyou isn't actually over, but it is now at the stage where I am no longer contemplating huge piles still to be got through somehow.
What I read
I seem to have picked some winners as freebies from US scholarly press (and although I would have preferred ebooks on principle, will admit that these are rather nice physical objects):
Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark, I'm Very into You: Correspondence 1995--1996 (2015) which is actually impassioned (mostly about ideas) exchange of emails over the space of a few months and an intriguing read.
Vivian Gornick, The Men in My Life (2008) about male writers whom she has found saying things that she could identify with but who were also problematic in many ways. I suppose I was vaguely aware of Gornick from various collections of 1970s feminist writings, but I am now rather a fangirl and looking out for her other stuff.
Kate Zambreno, Heroines (2012) about which I was ambivalent - it was a compelling read but I found something self-indulgent and unexamined privilegy about it, and although towards the end she was yay female blogosphere she was rather nasty about second wave feminism (which, really, All More Complicated) and getting into that whole dodgy generations-of-feminism and former generation as somehow Bad Mother trope.
Plus several others that I have not yet started.
Elizabeth Moon, Deeds of Honor: Paksenarrion World Chronicles (2014) - pleasant enough but the stories probably don't make much sense if you haven't read the various novel series set in that world.
Susan Palwick, Mending the Moon (2013), which was lovely, in spite of the set-up - much-loved friend and adoptive mother brutally murdered on vacation, the impact on those left behind - beautifully done, and about the redemptive power of popular media.
On the go
Still Run Away Home for trennels readthrough.
Bogging down in The Ariadne Connection, which seems to keep everything dialled up to 11 all the time, there is a significant viewpoint character who embodies a set of tropes I find problematic (I can only hope that they are set up for a redemptive arc, because otherwise, I am a bit ugh), and what it maybe needs are a few more quiet moments - cf Beth Bernobich's lovely post on Quiet Moments in Epic Fantasy. Thrillers could also do with moments when things let up for a moment. Also, it's all so serious - I remember the earlier things by Stamey that I read having a lighter touch?
Started, and dipping in and out, Andrew M Butler, Solar Flares: Science Fiction in the 1970s (2012), to help clarify my own thoughts on that dismissed decade.
Also, because somebody mentioned it on FaceBook, Jenny Offill, Elissa Schappell, The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away (2005) - may have further thoughts, given my interest in women and friendship, once I've finished it.
Well, somebody I know has just published (pseudonymously) Bought by the Billionbear, a shapeshifter erotic romance, and at 99p I'm prepared to give it a whirl (also, quite short).
Also, have ordered a couple of Gornick's other works, so those are on the pile as well.
Chapter Twelve of Answering Prayers by velvetwhip.
Chapter Thirteen of Dreams and Mirrors by kikimay.
AtSverse icons by shameless666.
TheToast give us "Every Argument About BtVS on the Internet From 1998 Until Now".
MindyKaling talks about Buffy/Angel/Spike.
Not to get all Val Longstreet in The Cricket Term over this, but I am aware that this is probably the last substantial cataloguing job I shall complete.
Which is a very weird feeling.
I daresay there will be a few odd small things -
- and I'm not entirely ruling out the possibility of 'coming back on a contract basis' for some particularly tasty collection of archives -
- but the likelihood is that this is going to be the last.
It's not even as though I'm going to be leaving for ever, rather than coming back in a new guise.
(Not so much clearing my desk, as just moving everything along to a different spot.)
Cataloguing a collection is very much the 'what I do is me, for this I came' element of the job.
It's an archivist thing.
Because I came across this today, and it seems to fit in with themes and motifs that have been around recently, and because, hey! she used to be my GP! (as well as President of the Royal College of GPs) The art of doing nothing.