Apologies, dear reader(s), you must have been veritably frothing at the mouth / gnashing your teeth due to my extended pause for “stuff Alicia read online and thought was kewl” content. Or maybe not. But still, much juggling of things has been going on in the wilds of 1) my head; 2) London. Incidentally, did you know that “juguler” is an old (and thus now rare) French term for “strangle”, “seize by the throat”, or figuratively “curb” something or someone? Some months, I think the superficial coincidence of spelling and sounds between “juggle” and “juguler” really points to a similarity of meaning between the two words… Anyhoo, enjoy the below!
- On emotional labour:
o At The Toast, Jess Zimmerman writes a powerful, aching piece on the invisible – and so often unreciprocal, gendered – service of emotional labour. In a nutshell:
… it is basically impossible to monetize [emotional labour], short of demanding funds to build a gold bridge. Not that I’d charge my friends – but I don’t charge to edit stuff for them either, nor do usually they charge me when they knit me something or draw me a picture or feed my dog. Yet that work is still considered to have value. I’ve offered to pay for dogsitting, they’ve offered to pay for editing; often we arrange some kind of barter in lieu of payment. If we wanted to charge someone else money for these services, it would not be considered absurd. But emotional labor? Offering advice, listening to woes, dispensing care and attention? That’s not supposed to be transactional. People are disturbed by the very notion that someone would charge, or pay, for friendly support. It’s supposed to come free.
o Zimmerman’s article inspired a fantastic, lengthy Metafilter thread, in which users swap personal stories and ideas for fixing the broken emotional economy. Yes, it’s a behemoth at 1700+ comments right now, but it is utterly worth it. Please go and read it now, if you have any interest in ever having any relationships with any sentient subject ever.
o Metafilter user MonkeyToes shared an excellent short piece by Judy Brady, “I Want A Wife”, which emphatically lays out the benefits of having a “wife”, i.e. individual who takes on almost all emotional labour for their partner, alongside picking up myriad practical household/relationship responsibilities. For example:
5- I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife's duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course studies. And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them.
Fuck it, I am a wife – not by any means Brady’s sort of wife, thanks to a very equitable split of all kinds of work with my husband – but still, I want a wife too. I think my husband could use one as well.
o The Zimmerman piece and concomitant Metafilter thread sparked a ton of self-reflection amongst Mefites, myself included. So, check out the other threads flowing from this one: a meta discussion of the original thread; a user trying to build a self-assessment checklist for emotional labour; a user seeking suggestions for songs which highlight unequal emotional labour; how to bring up non-reciprocal/fraught emotional labour situations in a romantic partnership and parent-child context.
- On punctuation, language, and signage:
o In a 2013 French-language blog post, Robert Chaudenson argues that linguistic choices for an officially authorised French term for “an email” – i.e. “un email”, “un mél”, or “un courriel” are of significant importance. (Dodgy English Google translation of the post here) Chaudenson alights on some key issues for francophone linguistics: “French” is not monolithic – Quebec exists and has a vibrant language culture – and the constant attacks/influence of Anglo-American language on the French language.
o Keith Houston offers up a précis of his book, Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks, in a 2013 piece for the New Yorker. In a fairly short, accessible article (with nice images of manuscripts!) Houston runs through the origin stories of a few kinds of punctuation. More interesting than you might think. See also Houston’s blog with lots of content on the same themes.
o User experience (UX) designer Molly Clare Wilson argues with verve (and handy visual examples) for the need for “neutral” user images – often used as default images for social media and the like – to be actually, genuinely neutral. In her words – don’t just “put a skirt on it” to define a “neutral” womanhood, and “don't designate ‘man’ with a stripey corporate neck decoration, please. And what is up with the shopping bags vs. briefcases thing? Kindly cut this the @#$k out, thanks.”
- On strangely amazing cats:
o Casa’s Nekomura san is a Japanese web-comic by Hoshi Yoriko (translated into English by Mika Yoshida and David G. Imber), recounting the daily life of a housekeeper-cat who takes a job in an editorial department. It’s slow-moving and weird and utterly absorbing, my gift to those in need of serious click-through distraction right now.
o In June, thousands of people attended the funeral of Tama, a cat who staffed a train station in rural Wakayama prefecture (Japan) and seemingly rescued the rail-line from economic collapse. During her eight year career with the Wakayama Electric Railway, she received a host of promotions, and is now known posthumously as “honourable eternal stationmaster” – she is also now venerated as a Shinto goddess.
- On the business of academia:
o 2015 is the 10th anniversary of the elearning symposium at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies. To mark the event, an edited volume showcasing best practice case studies (from the UK and beyond) and self-analytical pieces relating to using technology to teach language. Read it as pdf ; epub; or paperback.
o A dissection of the potential pitfalls of academic public engagement, in this instance cultural appropriation, is offered by this Metafilter post focussing on Boston Museum of Fine Art’s call to visitors to wear a traditional kimono, a replica garment from one pictured in a Monet work.
o I blogged about #s406 at Leeds’ #IMC2015 over here. Another relevant round-table was #s1403: a discussion between medievalist #Twitterati about the role of Twitter in medieval scholarship and pedagogy. Jonathan Hsy, one of the participants, has put together a great Storify of relevant tweets summarising the session.
- Why I love the internet and (some) people (sometimes):
o In Melbourne (Australia), trees have been given email addresses, so people can alert authorities to any problems with the tree – disease, fallen branches, the usual. But! Melburnians are re-purposing the practical addresses, and sending the trees personal emails. I am overwhelmed with joy and love at this. Please can we get email addresses for trees in London? Please?
o Jim is this artist guy on the internet, who will illustrate any scenario you email him with the “specialist” tool of MS Paint. He has skillz, and has produced some of my favourite art of all time. Cases in point: 1, 2, and 3.