GABBLER RECOMMENDS: ”How Twitter can ruin a life” by Emily VanDerWerff

She had at least some reason to expect that the complete vacuum of personal information about her — the short author bio attached to the story said only that she was born in 1988 — wouldn’t be questioned. Trans spaces, both online and in real life, have a long history of allowing an anonymity that paradoxically hides within one’s true identity.

If you want to attend a support group meeting and say your name is Isabel and you use she/her pronouns, you will be treated as such, no matter how you look or what name is on your driver’s license. Gatekeeping in a trans space usually involves loosely enforced rules that focus on giving those who exist within them a safe place to explore their identity. Those rules almost never attempt to determine that someone is “trans enough.”

But anonymity isn’t always welcome on the internet, where an anonymous identity can be weaponized for the worst. That gap — between the good-faith anonymity assumed in trans spaces and the bad-faith anonymity increasingly assumed online — was the one Fall wandered into.

At its core, “Attack Helicopter” is about the intersection of gender and American hegemony. On that level, it has plenty to say even to cisgender people. After all, if all gender is on some level a performance (and it is), then it can be co-opted and perverted by the state. But if it’s also innate on some level (and it is), then we are powerless against whatever it is that enough people decide gender performance should look like. We are constantly trapped by gender, even when we know we are trapped by it. You can’t truly escape something so all-pervasive; you can only negotiate your own terms with it, and everybody’s terms are different.

The conversation around gender “is dominated by those who can tolerate and thrive in it. It is conducted by the voices of those who are able to survive speech and its consequences,” Fall says. “But it is a conversation that is, by necessity, reductive. We need teams and groups and identities, not just to belong to, but as mental objects to manipulate and wield. If we tried to hold 10 million unique experiences of gender in our mind they would sift through our fingers and roll away.”

Such a conversation around gender is not particularly conducive to those who are figuring out their gender in public, as all trans people must do eventually. It’s especially not conducive to artists who are exploring their gender in their art, under even greater degrees of public scrutiny. Which is to say: That conversation is not conducive to people like Fall.

The delineation between paranoid and reparative readings originated in 1995, with influential critic Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. A paranoid reading focuses on what’s wrong or problematic about a work of art. A reparative reading seeks out what might be nourishing or healing in a work of art, even if the work is flawed. Importantly, a reparative reading also tends to consider what might be nourishing or healing in a work of art for someone who isn’t the reader.

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I don’t know if I necessarily agree with this article but… “How the Golem Came to Prague”

As we have seen, the move to the center (both religiously and geographically, since Prague is much closer to the heart of the Hapsburg Empire than the Polish city of Chelm) was a spectacular success. For nearly a quarter of a century after Grimm’s report there is no written record of any specific ecotype of the Golem legend, and one could imagine countless variants circulating orally. But once the tale is fixed in Prague, it quickly becomes the standard reflex and ultimately the authoritative version through Weisel, dominating the next six decades until it is swallowed up by Rosenberg’s more fully developed Prague narratives.26 That the attachment of Grimm’s uprooted Golem to the Maharal is in large part an attempt to emphasize the power of the holy word is evident in one of the main differences between Jewish and Christian accounts of the Golem in this period. All Christian accounts follow Grimm in identifying the utterance of holy words as the key to the animation process. The Jewish versions, on the other hand, emphasize the act of writing the secret name and inserting it into a cavity of the head (usually the mouth), an act which by definition defies pronunciation. It is not a magical spell that brings the Golem to life; it is an act of literacy, that is, an act of reading, studying, and writing, which are all meditations on the nature of God. This act strongly distances itself from the conjuring power of the words used by Grimm’s anonymous ‘‘they,’’ where ‘‘Schemhamphoras’’ is more like abracadabra.27 Moreover this act of literacy is about rewriting or reclaiming the creation in Eden by transferring the divine voice into the written form of the divine name. It would seem, then, that only a rabbi with a specific name can control the Holy Name. Man might not be able to speak for God, but he can quote him on parchment.

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I don’t know how necessarily fair it is to say/imply that Christians emphasized the speaking of the word/oral traditions, when it was a Jewish concept in the book of Exodus that names spoken aloud have power (God to Moses). 

There’s also likely something to be said about the word “nephesh” but I’m too lazy to get into an argument requiring research right now.

 

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: The Revival of Stoicism by Shayla Love

Ada Palmer, an historian at the University of Chicago, argues that Stoicism is popular in places like Silicon Valley particularly because it doesn’t require a person not to be a CEO of a successful company to be a Stoic. “The Romans loved Stoicism because it was a philosophy that was compatible with political life,” Palmer said.

It’s perhaps unsurprising then that billionaires love a philosophy that doesn’t require them to give up on their wealth, but accept their role in the world, and counsels the less fortunate to not worry so much about their circumstances and accept their lot—as Zeno did when he lost all of his possessions.

“There is a risk that the mega-rich will seek philosophies that basically validate themselves and their lifestyles rather than awakening them to their blind spots, their obligations to their fellow beings,” Evans said.

The metaphysical side of ancient Stoicism contains an explanation as to why we shouldn’t worry about external events but simply our reactions to them—but it raises more potential problems.

The Stoics were monists, and thought that the universe was all connected, made of a divine rational substance called logos. The universe, they believed, was rational because it was organized by logos: Whatever happens is what’s meant to happen. Even things that seem bad to you have been ordained by the divine spark of logic, and so what’s actually bad is your response, which you can change and have control over.

“Stoicism is thus from the outset a deterministic system that appears to leave no room for human free will and more responsibility,” wrote Gregory Hays, associate professor of classics at the University of Virginia, in the introduction to his translation of Meditations. “In reality the Stoics were reluctant to accept such an arrangement, and attempted to get around the difficulty by defining free will as a voluntary accommodation to what is in any case inevitable.” Hays described it like this: Imagine that we are like a dog tied to a moving wagon. “If the dog refuses to run along with the wagon he will be dragged by it, yet the choice remains his: to run or be dragged.”

Zuckerberg agreed that in the community that takes Stoicism seriously, the people she’s writing about are in short supply. But in the types of online meeting grounds she explored in her book, she said, “the use of Stoicism is much more superficial yet also more disturbing.” She maintains that it’s the “unfortunate responsibility of people who take Stoicism seriously to insist that out-of-context quotations from Marcus Aurelius aren’t the full picture when it comes to Stoicism, and the reality is a lot more nuanced and less individualistic.”

Whiting felt that Zuckerberg’s warnings in her book went unheeded, and that people dismissed her. “I thought that we did not respond as a Stoic community with kindness to Donna,” Whiting said. “I don’t think we did enough to thank her for the stance that she took and the effort that she made. People say, ‘Oh, you know, she made us look bad.’ She made us look in the mirror.”

Stoicism is a wonderful philosophy, but there are some elements missing, if it’s taken on too unilaterally. Evans found that focus on the rational can omit ecstatic, non-rational approaches to healing and meaning. Incidentally, this can be the case with CBT as well, which is not for everyone, or for every problem. “Some people find the idea of trying to rationalize away your negative beliefs doesn’t work, which is why some people prefer Acceptance and Commitment Therapy,” Evans said. “I have a friend with OCD, and he can’t Socratically dispute his intrusive beliefs. That just makes it worse.”

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Károly Kerényi on Hephaestus and Aphrodite

“I shall have much to say about Hephaistos [Hephaestus]. Let is suffice for the moment to say that he was, according to most tales, a skilled and sturdy master metalworker, yet at the same time only a crippled craftsman dwarf. He created young virgins made of gold, who moved as fi they were alive, and thought and talked and worked. He fashioned the first woman, Pandora. She was not his wife, but the wife of beings closely resembling him. Hephaistos’s wife — according to Homer, in his Iliad, and according to Hesiod – was the youngest of the Graces, Aglaia, “the glorious”. Did more ancient tales (which these poets knew) mean that she, took was a living work of art? It may be so, for charis (“grace”) also means the delightfulness of art. Or was it their purpose to give the smith-god a lesser Aphrodite for wife, instead of the great one? In any case, in our tongue the love-goddess could also have been called Charis. In the Odyssey, the spouse of Hephaistos was Aphrodite, and Ares was her lover.”

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Starting Memorial Day, we’re marching into Pride Month with a free ebook download. Both our books are not only super QUEER but super FREE.

From May 31 to June 2, both of our books are free:

Vol. 1 | Vol. 2