I’m behindhand with my 2016 round up posts–but also I’m travelling this weekend and anticipate finishing at least another book or two before the year is over. So I’ll be back next week with more about my favorites and the reading year. For today, here are some of my favorite posts here from the last twelve months.
“Making without context” (on the maker movement, the history of crafts, and the tension between them):
Rather than pausing to learn the history of a craft or what shaped it, maker culture wants to recreate it so it can be produced (as long as you do it exactly right). It creates an expectation of production rather than listening, replacing the relationships between people with a pressure to stay on top of flashy technology which often doesn’t last very long.
“Pop culture and me” (how I used to be snotty about liking popular things and learned that I should try to resist that urge):
The process of sharing your love of [insert tv show/movie/album/book] builds a shared language: jokes, references, crossovers to other favorites. They’re about being able to say, “RIGHT IN THE FEELS” or “I feel like your inner April and inner Leslie are fighting” (as I memorably said to my boss) and knowing that the other person is going to get it. It is fundamentally about that common sharing & understanding.
“Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer” (a review where I managed to unpick some of why this book fascinated and troubled me):
So, this is science fiction, but it’s the kind of science fiction that talks about Thomas Carlyle and Voltaire all the time. The Enlightenment is as powerful a force in this society as any other point in history–we are given a sense of the great philosophers and thinkers of the fictional near past, but they also hearken back to the 18th century. And there’s the kind of science that basically looks like magic, also possibly real magic in the form of a mysterious child named Bridger. This is what I mean by peculiar.
“On the one hand lies darkness, and on the other only hope”: why I love Galadriel
When I first read Lord of the Rings in middle school, I didn’t think of myself as having much power at all. And even now, it’s not necessarily how I think of myself. But rereading these passages it strikes me how clearly Galadriel, out of all the characters in LotR, shows the way that our own talents and strengths can be twisted. By refusing that path, she acts with integrity and remains herself. It’s not an easy thing, but it’s a true thing.
We don’t necessarily have to like the characters better after we find out their secrets (Too Like the Lightning is a good recent example of this). But what we learn shouldn’t be antithetical to what we already know. If a story has carefully set up a character loving the color blue, for instance, suddenly saying, “AHA! They actually hate the color blue and have loved purple all along!” doesn’t work too well for me. In that case, a twist can become a “gotcha!” on the part of the author.
I think what I want is for self care to be recognized as —as self preservation. As a work that I and others to keep breathing, to keep going, to not lose ourselves. I think we can and should encourage everyone to do what they need to in order to keep going—but we shouldn’t make the mistake of forgetting that this is not an equal thing for everyone.
“Thoughts on Lady Rage” (a very personal musing on anger):
I know that women are told to be quiet and meek in a way men aren’t. I hate this. I want to rage against what’s wrong in the world. And yet–and yet–I also see the ways that anger can be toxic for me–both my own and other peoples’. I hate that women, are told that their justified anger is wrong, unseemly, too much. And yet there are times when I literally physically feel anger building up in my body and it hurts.