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Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Hot Allostatic Load – The New Inquiry
"HI

I am too sick to write this article. The act of writing about my injuries is like performing an interpretative dance after breaking nearly every bone in my body. When I sit down to edit this doc, my head starts aching like a capsule full of some corrosive fluid has dissolved and is leaking its contents. The mental haze builds until it becomes difficult to see the text, to form a thesis, to connect parts. They drop onto the page in fragments. This is the difficulty of writing about brain damage.

The last time I was in the New Inquiry, several years ago, I was being interviewed. I was visibly sick. I was in an abusive “community” that had destroyed my health with regular, sustained emotional abuse and neglect. Sleep-deprived, unable to take care of myself, my body was tearing itself apart. I was suicidal from the abuse, and I had an infected jaw that needed treatment.

Years later, I’m talking to my therapist. I told her, when you have PTSD, everything you make is about PTSD. After a few minutes I slid down and curled up on the couch like the shed husk of a cicada. I go to therapy specifically because of the harassment and ostracism from within my field.

This is about disposability from a trans feminine perspective, through the lens of an artistic career. It’s about being human trash.

This is in defense of the hyper-marginalized among the marginalized, the Omelas kids, the marked for death, those who came looking for safety and found something worse than anything they’d experienced before.

For years, queer/trans/feminist scenes have been processing an influx of trans fems, often impoverished, disabled, and/or from traumatic backgrounds. These scenes have been abusing them, using them as free labor, and sexually exploiting them. The leaders of these scenes exert undue influence over tastemaking, jobs, finance, access to conferences, access to spaces. If someone resists, they are disappeared, in the mundane, boring, horrible way that many trans people are susceptible to, through a trapdoor that can be activated at any time. Housing, community, reputation—gone. No one mourns them, no one asks questions. Everyone agrees that they must have been crazy and problematic and that is why they were gone.

I was one of these people.

They controlled my housing and access to nearly every resource. I was sexually harassed, had my bathroom use monitored, my crumbling health ignored or used as a tool of control, was constantly yelled at, and was pressured to hurt other trans people and punished severely when I refused.

The cycle of trans kids being used up and then smeared is a systemic, institutionalized practice. It happens in the shelters, in the radical organizations, in the artistic scenes—everywhere they might have a chance of gaining a foothold. It’s like an abusive foster household that constantly kicks kids out then uses their tears and anger at being raped and abused to justify why they had to be kicked out—look at these problem kids. Look at these problematic kids.

Trans fems are especially vulnerable to abuse for the following reasons:

— A lot of us encounter concepts for the first time and have no idea what is “normal” or not.

— We have nowhere else to go. Abuse thrives on scarcity.

— No one cares what happens to us.

This foster cycle relies on amnesia. A lot of people who enter spaces for the first time don’t know those spaces’ history. They may not know that leaders regularly exploit and make sexual advances on new members, or that those members who resisted are no longer around. Spaces self-select for people who will play the game, until the empathic people have been drained out and the only ones who remain are those who have perfectly identified with the agendas and survival of the Space—the pyramid scheme of believers who bring capital and victims to those on top."



"
TRASH ART

When it was really bad, I wrote: “Build the shittiest thing possible. Build out of trash because all i have is trash. Trash materials, trash bodies, trash brain syndrome. Build in the gaps between storms of chronic pain. Build inside the storms. Move a single inch and call it a victory. Mold my sexuality toward immobility. Lie here leaking water from my eyes like a statue covered in melting frost. Zero affect. Build like moss grows. Build like crystals harden. Give up. Make your art the merest displacement of molecules at your slightest quiver. Don’t build in spite of the body and fail on their terms, build with the body. Immaculate is boring and impossible. Health based aesthetic.”

Twine, trashzines made of wadded up torn paper because we don’t have the energy to do binding, street recordings done from our bed where we lie immobilized.

Laziness is not laziness, it is many things: avoiding encountering one’s own body, avoiding triggers, avoiding thinking about the future because it’s proven to be unbearable. Slashing the Gordian Knot isn’t a sign of strength; it’s a sign of exhaustion."



"SOCIAL DYNAMICS

COMMUNITY IS DISPOSABILITY
There are no activist communities, only the desire for communities, or the convenient fiction of communities. A community is a material web that binds people together, for better and for worse, in interdependence. If its members move away every couple years because the next place seems cooler, it is not a community. If it is easier to kick someone out than to go through a difficult series of conversations with them, it is not a community. Among the societies that had real communities, exile was the most extreme sanction possible, tantamount to killing them. On many levels, losing the community and all the relationships it involved was the same as dying. Let’s not kid ourselves: we don’t have communities.

—The Broken Teapot, Anonymous"

People crave community so badly that it constitutes a kind of linguistic virus. Everything in this world apparently has a community attached to it, no matter how fragmented or varied the reality is. This feels like both wishful thinking in an extremely lonely world (trans fems often have a community-shaped wound a mile wide) and also the necessary lens to convert everything to profit. Queerness is a marketplace. Alt is a marketplace. Buy my feminist butt plugs.

The dream of an imaginary community that allows total identification with one’s role within it to an extent that rules out interiority or doubt, the fixity and clearness of an external image or cliche as opposed to ephemera of lived experience, a life as it looks from the outside.

—Stephen Murphy

These idealized communities require disposability to maintain the illusion—violence and ostracism against the black/brown/trans/trash bodies that serve as safety valves for the inevitable anxiety and disillusionment of those who wish “total identification”.

Feminism/queerness takes a vague disposability and makes it a specific one. The vague ambient hate that I felt my whole life became intensely focused—the difference between being soaked in noxious, irritating gasoline and having someone throw a match at you. Normal hate means someone and their friends being shitty toward you; radical hate places a moral dimension onto hate, requiring your exclusion from every possible space—a true social death."



"There is immense pressure on trans people to engage in this form of complaint if they want access to spaces—but we, with our higher rates of homelessness, joblessness, lifelessness, lovelessness, are the most fragile. We are the glass fems of an already delicate genderscape.

Purification is meaningless because anyone can perform these rituals—an effigy burnt in digital. And their inflexibility provides a place where abuse can thrive—a set of rules which abusers can hold over their victims.

Deleuze wrote, “The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.”

>>

ENDING

People talk about feminism and queerness the way you’d apologize for an abusive relationship.

This isn’t for the people who are benefiting from these spaces and have no reason to change. This is for the people who were exiled, the people essays aren’t supposed to be written for. This is to say, you didn’t deserve that. That even tens or hundreds or thousands of people can be wrong, and they often are, no matter how much our socially constructed brains take that as a message to lie down and die. That nothing is too bad, too ridiculous, too bizarre to be real when it comes to making marginalized people disappear.

Ideology is a sick fetish.

RESISTING DISPOSABILITY

— Let marginalized people be flawed. Let them fuck up like the Real Humans who get to fuck up all the time.

— Fight criminal-justice thinking. Disposability runs on the innocence/guilt binary, another category that applies dynamically to certain bodies and not others. The mob trials used to run trans people out of communities are inherently abusive, favor predators, and must be rejected as a process unequivocally. There is no kind of justice that resembles hundreds of people ganging up on one person, or tangible lifelong damage being inflicted on someone for failing the rituals of purification that have no connection to real life.

— Pay attention when people disappear. Like drowning, it’s frequently silent. They might be blackmailed, threatened, and/or in shock.

— Even if the victim doesn’t want to fight (which is deeply understandable—often moving on is the only response), private support is huge. This is the time to make sure the wound doesn’t become infected, that the PTSD they acquire is as minimized as … [more]
porpentine  community  via:sevensixfive  feminism  abuse  disposability  identity  interdependence  ptsd  trauma  recovery  punishment  safety  socialmedia  call-outculture  society  culture  violence  mobbing  rape  emotionalabuse  witchhunts  silviafederici  damage  health  communication  stigma  judithherman  terror  despair  twine  laziness  trashart  trashzines  alliyates  social  socialdynamics  stephenmurphy  queerness  jackiewang  complaint  complaints  power  powerlessness  pain  purity  fragility  gillesdeleuze  deleuze  solitude  silence  ideology  canon  reintegration  integration  rejection  inclusivity  yvetteflunder  leadership  inclusion  marginalization  innocence  guilt  binaries  falsebinaries  predators 
december 2015 by robertogreco
A “No to” Poem — The Message — Medium
"This self-contradiction happens many times, presumably the result of the poem being written collectively. It’s also possible a given pair of such lines represents the mental state of an individual who holds two opposing views at once. In any case, many times the work asks you, the reader, to hold two opposing views, which is unusual in a manifesto (less unusual in a poem).

The poem is angry and it is exhausted. It is angry at many things, some of them related to sexual assault, some of them related to how people enact their activism. It is exhausted by the same things. The poem is 3,712 words of free verse, an average of 14 words per line. 243 of those lines are tweetable and 28 are too long to tweet."



"The manifesto is author-less; it was written collectively. Its authors are identified only by geography:



So it’s impossible to know how many people were involved. At least 11, and since there are 271 lines to the poem and each line seems to represent an individual thought, then 271 is probably the upper potential limit of the collective. So: I’d estimate somewhere between 11 and 271 people wrote the poem. They all identify as feminists but that doesn’t specify anything about gender or anything else. I made a little chart of the number of people involved by country:"



"I think this poem is fascinating today but I think it will also be fascinating 85 years from now, to one or more people, after many of the things to which it refers— the reading series, the people and places — cease to exist. It will define something specific about this moment in history. I doubt that 85 years will eradicate the cultural need for feminism, activism, or poetry. So this poem will help people understand how things have changed, or not, in the year 2100. They will be able to compare it to things that came before and to things that followed and know something about how things change in general."



"There are some things about this poem.

First, that it was written collectively and internationally via the Internet. Before this poem when you told me about collectively generated digital creative activist work my first thoughts were of 4Chan and Gamergate — of memes, not poems. So this poem changed that for me, it broadened the scope of what anonymous collectives can do online.

The idea of unidentified individuals collaborating and creating things has been understood by many people as a dangerous, bad thing connected to harassment. But this poem is the product of people working collaboratively and anonymously to create art that they hope will have a positive social impact. It is also a public policy statement, from a group without a name (even Anonymous has a name). Maybe this “No Collective” has already ceased to exist."

********

I don’t know how to read this thing. I mean, I could read it from beginning to end. But I burned out on that. Instead I’ve been coming back to it over a couple of weeks, digging out the PDF, and thinking it through.

It’s pretty much without imagery and metaphor. It’s incantatory. It acknowledges a diversity of opinion on some things (Melville House) and refuses a diversity of opinion on others (the reality of sexual assault).

The fact that it was written collectively makes it unclear to me, at any point of the poem, whether I am reading something that was written by an individual and then glued together, or if each line was collaboratively edited. How was it edited by the Chicago Review? I wish I knew which tools were used to compose it, because that matters. Google docs? An email list with a single editor? Facebook chat? How could you find out? Who could you ask? The things that are stable (“No to rape”) are very stable; other things are completely unstable. This poem raises a million questions about what it means to read things and how the Internet is changing writing. There are many poetic manifestos in the world and I’m sure some of them were anonymously written but the thing I keep thinking about is how there are now a set of technologies — in the broadest sense, not just the Internet but technologies of self-organizing and collaboratively working — that enable the rapid creation of new things in reaction to events."



"I’ve half-followed the Alt-Lit scene for a while and have probably spent 20 years reading about “digital poetics,” and this is the very first time I went, well, there you go.

It seems that a lot of worlds are starting to collide. It also feels that anonymous international collectives of varying sizes and shapes, with radically different ideologies, will claim their voice in culture moving forward, ranging from 4Chan and Gamergate, which are very masculine entities, to this no collective, which is avowedly, fundamentally feminist. I expect people sharing other kinds of belief systems will start operating and creating as collectives, too."
feminism  language  paulford  poetry  rape  2015  authorship  googledocs  cocreation  collaboration  writing  howwerite  activism  collectivism  poems 
may 2015 by robertogreco
29. You Will Learn the Meaning of Muzombo — Why 2015 Won’t Suck — Medium
"This December, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, chiefs from the Lega tribe, on their own initiative, came to Bukavu from their villages, hours away, to express their decision to set up new traditional laws not only against sexual violence and rape but also forbidding early marriage for girls, forced sororate or levirate marriages (when a young girl is married to the brother of her deceased husband), child labor and privileging boys’ education while keeping girls uneducated. They are setting those acts as taboos, locally known as “Muzombo,” which entitle any offender to the most severe punishment in the community. Any offense will be thoroughly investigated at the traditional level, and seriously punished.

The crisis of sexual violence in the Congo and the use of rape as a weapon of mass destruction, against which we have been fighting for the last 16 years, remains. But we are hopeful now that nations worldwide seem to be rising to the issue and deciding to engage. In June, the British government hosted a Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London. One hundred fifty nations represented by their ministers of foreign affairs took a stand against sexual violence with a unified resolution. Barack Obama signed an executive order to freeze the assets of all criminals and their accomplices who commit or have committed crimes in the Congo. Those diverse engagements, from the highest positioned leaders to the common citizen in the society, give us hope for the year 2015."
congo  drc  2015  muzombo  violence  denismukwege  sexualviolence  rape  women  girls  taboos  gender 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Dishonor Code: Rape, Reputation and Repercussion at U.Va | quiteirregular
"Our traditions, our reliance on honor, our language of quiet gentility are what reinforce toxic levels of privilege."



"A call to tradition is a call to protect our fun at the expense of another person’s comfort. I saw it, and participated in it, while at Oxford as an undergraduate. When balls, black tie, sub fusc, and formal halls would come under attack as practices that made the University an uncomfortable and even hostile space for people who did not come from a white middle- or upper-class background, I, too, would join in the cry that these traditions were what made Oxford so wonderful, so special. It is only in retrospect that I wonder to what extent what I really meant was, “if you can’t conform to this special place, then you don’t really belong here. It’s not on me to make room for you.”

That was hard to see as a student, as someone who enjoyed those traditions. But from the vantage point I now have, as an outsider looking in at the undergraduate life of another University whose calling card is also old-fashioned tradition and gentility, I can see more clearly that when we say we live in a “community of honor” we mean, “to question our community is to question our honor.” When we say we prize tradition, we must admit that that tradition is built of slavery, and racial, class, and gender privilege.

This all came starkly to light the day the Rolling Stone article went live. President Sullivan sent an email within the day, which opened by addressing, before any solidarity with the student who spoke up, before any responsibility for the botched investigation, and certainly before any responsibility for the crime happening on our campus in the first place, the “negative portrayal” of the University.

In a desperate attempt to preserve and increase our reputations, we rest on concepts like honor and tradition to shut down debates about privilege and diversity. I am not the first to point out that it’s hard to have your privilege questioned. And I do not pretend that this is the only problem. There are state-wide legal frameworks that perpetuate rape culture (such as the fact that due to still extant Virginia brothel laws, only frats can serve alcohol, all sororities are dry), and there are frameworks within the university as well – we are a business, and powerful, wealthy donors cling tightly to tradition.

But there is also the way we talk about ourselves, and the words we use. When your traditions are built on a history of white supremacy, perhaps it’s time to criticize them. When Honor is a word we use to make ourselves feel better, it is merely an empty construct. Coming forward to speak through your pain and terror about assault is honorable. And there is only one honorable thing we can do in return: listen."
uva  privilege  tradition  gentility  2014  honor  power  prestige  listening  whitesupremacy  rape  diversity  fraternities  race  history  gender  via:maxfenton 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Texas in Africa: show me the data
"In other words, it's much more complicated than just the mineral trade. Which is why the argument that shutting down the mines will end all of this violence is fundamentally flawed. It is, quite frankly, based on incorrect assumptions and a lack of rigorously-analyzed evidence.

An all-encompassing focus on the mineral trade won't end violence in the eastern DRC. Assuming that it were even possible to track the Congo's minerals from source to market and that it would be possible shut down the militarized mineral trade (and, given the limits of technology and oversight, those are two mighty big assumptions), would the loss of income really force these armed groups to the negotiating table? These forces are already well-accustomed to terrorizing local populations to obtain the necessities of life. Would their behavior really change if they lost this income stream? I'm not sure. And, we must remember, there's the tiny problem of external financing of these armed groups (especially the FDLR) that the international community has until very recently completely ignored.

Then there's the lingering detail of the 1 million+ people who depend on the mineral trade for their livelihoods. Any program to shut down the mines have to take their employment into account. As Harrison Mitchell and Nicholas Garrett continue to point out, legitimizing the mineral trade is a far better idea than shutting it down.

I do not know a single scholar of the Congo who buys into the "cell phones cause rape" thesis. We all understand that the situation there is far too complex to be reduced by the activists to a simple resource war that could be solved if we just pressure Congress to stop the conflict mineral trade (How many of you are willing to give up your mobile phones to stand in solidarity with Congolese women? Keep in mind that there aren't any conflict-free cell phones.).

This doesn't mean that minerals don't matter. But the militarized mineral trade is a symptom of the disease of state failure, not the root cause of violence. Even setting aside all of the logistical issues with certification, controlling supply chains, taking physical control of the mines, developing the technology necessary to track minerals, finding livelihoods for newly unemployed miners, and creating a degree of consumer consciousness that's stronger than the desire for an iPhone, the violence won't end. It won't. There's no entity capable of stopping it.

Treating one symptom rarely cures a disease. We all want the people of the Congo to live productive, peaceful lives that are free from the constant threat of violence. We all agree that the eastern DRC is in many ways the linchpin for regional stability. But until there is serious security-sector reform, the Congolese government can actually control its territory, tax, and pay its soldiers, and the regional dynamics that drive much of the conflict over land, citizenship rights, and Rwanda's role in the region are settled, armed groups and civilians will continue to commit horrific acts of violence, simply because they can. "Doing something" about the mineral trade won't change that fact.

Policymakers would do well to focus less on oversimplified solutions to extraordinarily complex problems, and to instead turn their attention to giving the people of the DRC what they deserve and need: peace, public order, and a chance to make life better. That will require a long-term, sustained effort that doesn't pretend the peacekeepers only need to stay another six months or a year. It will require negotiating with unsavory non-state actors. It will require honest assessments of regional actors' territorial and sphere-of-influence ambitions. It will require the recognition of corruption in all its many varied forms, and of the need to directly target aid to its beneficiaries.

Above all else, it will require policies that are based on facts, not assumptions. The stakes are too high not to pursue policies that are data-driven and have a reasonable chance of success.

Then again, maybe it's easier to oversimplify things."
via:vruba  2009  lauraseay  congo  mining  violence  rape  economics  policy  politics  complexity  oversimplification 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Mary Beard Takes On Her Sexist Detractors
[Alt URL: http://www.newyorker.com/?p=2715385 ]

"Finally, Beard arrived at the contemporary chorus of Twitter trolls and online commenters. “The more I’ve looked at the details of the threats and the insults that women are on the receiving end of, the more some of them seem to fit into the old patterns of prejudice and assumption that I have been talking about,” she said. “It doesn’t much matter what line of argument you take as a woman. If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it.” Such online interjections—“ ‘Shut up you bitch’ is a fairly common refrain”—often contain threats of violence, a “predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder, and so forth.” She mildly reported one tweet that had been directed at her: “I’m going to cut off your head and rape it.”"



"Beard’s ancient world can seem, at least on the surface, rather like the more urban and liberal parts of our own. Her Rome is polyglot and multicultural, animated by the entrepreneurialism of freed slaves in overcrowded streets. At the same time, Beard warns against the danger of smoothing away the strangeness and foreignness of Roman life. Her latest book, “Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up,” which has just been published, is an engaging exploration of what made the Romans laugh—bad breath, among other things—but it also explores dimensions of Roman sensibility that have become elusive to us. Beard observes that there is no word in Latin for “smile,” and makes the striking suggestion that the Romans simply did not smile in the sense that we understand the social gesture today. […] Beard’s popularizing bent is grounded in a deep knowledge of the arcane, and she gives new insight into the hoariest of topics, according to Elaine Fantham, a well-known Latinist who is a generation Beard’s senior. “If you are a Latinist, you are always being asked to talk about Pompeii,” Fantham says. “When Mary does something, it is not old hat. It becomes new hat.”"



"Gill’s review of “Meet the Romans” had been a turning point, Beard explained. “That is when it became kind of a personal calling, because I spoke out and said, ‘Sorry, sunshine, this is just not on,’ ” she said. “The people who read the Mail are middle-aged women, and they look like me. They know what he’s saying. For all the very right-wing, slightly unpleasant populism that the Mail trades in, its readership is actually people who know an unacceptable insult when they see it. They’ve got gray hair. He’s talking about them.”"



"In another highly publicized incident, Beard retweeted a message that she had received from a twenty-year-old university student: “You filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting.” One of Beard’s followers offered to inform the student’s mother of his online behavior; meanwhile, he apologized. Beard’s object is not simply to embarrass offenders; it is to educate women. Before social media, she argues, it was possible for young women like those she teaches at Cambridge to enjoy the benefits of feminist advances without even being aware of the battles fought on their behalf, and to imagine that such attitudes are a thing of the past. Beard says, “Most of my students would have denied, I think, that there was still a major current of misogyny in Western culture.”

Beard’s zest for the online fray seems indefatigable. If there is a newspaper comments section excoriating her, readers may be surprised to come across comments from Beard, defending herself. If there is a thread praising her on Mumsnet, a popular British site for parents, she may pop up there, too, thanking her admirers. When she feels that she has been misrepresented in a newspaper article, she takes to her blog to explain herself further. If she gets into a Twitter spat, it is likely to be reported on by the British press, to whom she will give a salty, winning quote. When asked by the BBC what she would say to her university-student troll, she replied, “I’d take him out for a drink and smack his bottom.”

There is, she acknowledges, an irony in the imbalance of power: as a prominent scholar, she does have a voice, however unpleasant the threats to silence her may be. Most of her Twitter detractors are grumbling to only a handful of followers, at least until she amplifies their audience. She has discovered that, quite often, she receives not only an apology from them but also a poignant explanation. After she published the genitalia photograph on her blog, the man who ran the site where the image had originally appeared wrote her a long letter. “He explained his personal circumstances—he was married with kids—and he said how he should never have done it, in a way that was very eloquent,” she told me. After a “Question Time” viewer wrote to her that she was “evil,” further correspondence revealed that he was mostly upset because he wanted to move to Spain and didn’t understand the bureaucracy. “It took two minutes on Google to discover the reciprocal health-care agreement, so I sent it to him,” she says. “Now when I have a bit of Internet trouble, I get an e-mail from him saying, ‘Mary, are you all right? I was worried about you.’ ”

The university student, after apologizing online, came to Cambridge and took Beard out to lunch; she has remained in touch with him, and is even writing letters of reference for him. “He is going to find it hard to get a job, because as soon as you Google his name that is what comes up,” she said. “And although he was a very silly, injudicious, and at that moment not very pleasant young guy, I don’t actually think one tweet should ruin your job prospects.”

At the same time, Beard questions a narrative in which her troll is recast as her errant son and she takes on the role of scolding but forgiving mother—a Penelope who chastises Telemachus for being rude, then patiently teaches him the error of his ways. “There is something deeply conservative about that reappropriation of errant teen-ager and long-suffering female parent—it is rewriting the relationship in acceptable form,” she says. “If I said to my students, ‘What is going on here?’ and they just came out with a happy-ending story, I would be very critical. I would say, ‘Haven’t you thought about how the same sorts of gender hierarchies are written in different forms?’ ” Despite this analysis, she feels emotionally satisfied with the outcome. “Some of these adjectives we use, like ‘maternal’—try putting ‘human’ in there instead,” she told me on one occasion. “If being a decent soul is being maternal, then fine. I’ll call it human.”



"Her wrongness lay not in her political position, she explained to me, but in the language she chose to express it. Beard believes that there was a very brief moment after 9/11—“a kind of extra-ordinary rhetorical aporia”—when there was not yet a consensus about how to define the attacks, and that this gap had firmly closed in the interval between her composing her contribution and its publication, two weeks later. In the years that followed, she added, “we have constructed a series of ways in which we can disagree about 9/11 without it being hurtful.” Beard remains in occasional contact with some of the people who were angered by the L.R.B. essay, and feels grateful to all those who engaged with her rather than demonized her. Through listening, she made herself heard."



"I was an intellectual control freak, and Greek was quite good for that—you could be good at it. You could master it.” She appreciated the ancient languages precisely because nobody spoke them anymore. She told me, “Part of the pleasure of knowing Latin is that you don’t have to learn to say, ‘Where is the cathedral?’ or ‘I would like a return ticket, second class, please.’ You actually get to the literature. You don’t always have to be making yourself understood.”"



"As Beard continued through the basement, her eye fell on a dozen Roman tombstones arrayed against a wall, in a gloomy half-light. They were from a site on the Black Sea, and each was engraved with a standardized image of the dearly departed. “They look horrible, don’t they?” she said. “It’s good to come along and say they are awful. You are so trained to admire them. At school, the older the object is the more respect you were supposed to give it. But you can look at them there, all piled up, and they appear to be what they are: mass-produced, not very good gravestones. Thank God the ancient world was democratic enough that it turned out crap.”"



"In “Oh Do Shut Up Dear!,” Beard’s lecture at the British Museum, she referred to one of the very few occasions in Roman literature when a woman is permitted a public voice. After Lucretia, the wife of a nobleman, Conlatinus, is raped by Tarquin, a royal prince, she denounces her rapist, then kills herself to preserve her virtue. This rape story, as told by Livy, sets into motion the founding of the Roman Republic: Lucretia’s defenders swear that hereditary princes will no longer assume privileges through violence. In her lecture, Beard acknowledged that it is easier to document ways that women have been silenced than it is to find a remedy to their silencing. (Virtuous suicide is not an option.) The real issue, she suggested, is not merely guaranteeing a woman’s right to speak; it is being aware of the prejudices that we bring to the way we hear her. Listening, she implied, is an essential element of speech."
trolls  internet  twitter  listening  feminism  rape  academia  gender  history  ancientrome  2014  commenting  web  online  socialmedia  materalism  empathy  civility  behavior  grace  humanism  discourse  classics  ancientgreek  latin  hibrow  lowbrow  culture  democracy  cultureproduction  power  marybeard 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Algorithmic Rape Jokes in the Library of Babel | Quiet Babylon
"Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel twisted through the logic of SEO and commerce."

"Part of what tips the algorithmic rape joke t-shirts over from very offensive to shockingly offensive is that they are ostensibly physical products. Intuitions are not yet tuned for spambot clothes sellers."

"Amazon isn’t a store, not really. Not in any sense that we can regularly think about stores. It’s a strange pulsing network of potential goods, global supply chains, and alien associative algorithms with the skin of a store stretched over it, so we don’t lose our minds."
algorithms  amazon  culture  internet  borges  timmaly  2013  jamesbridle  apologies  non-apologies  brianeno  generative  crapjects  georginavoss  rape  peteashton  software  taste  poortaste  deniability  secondlife  solidgoldbomb  t-shirts  keepcalmand  spam  objects  objectspam  quinnnorton  masscustomization  rapidprototyping  shapersubcultures  scale  libraryofbabel  thelibraryofbabel  tshirts 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Charles P. Pierce on the brutal truth about the crimes at Penn State - Grantland
"It happens because institutions lie. And today, our major institutions lie because of a culture in which loyalty to "the company," and protection of "the brand"…trumps conventional morality, traditional ethics, civil liberties, & even adherence to the rule of law. It is better to protect "the brand" than it is to protect free speech, the right to privacy, or even to protect children."

"Independent action is usually crushed. Nobody wants to damage the brand. Your supervisor might find out, & his primary loyalty is to the company…why he got promoted to be supervisor…

…institutions of college athletics exist primarily as unreality fueled by deceit…that universities should be in the business of providing large spectacles of mass entertainment…

It is not a failure of our institutions so much as it is a window into what they have become — soulless, profit-driven monsters, Darwinian predators w/ precious little humanity left in them…Too much of this country is too big to fail."
pennstate  religion  grantland  collegesports  colleges  universities  2011  toobigtofail  ethics  morality  corporatism  loyalty  humanity  humanism  fear  failure  jerrysandusky  romancatholicchurch  rape  childabuse  law  corruption  civilliberties  collegefootball  us  crime  truth 
november 2011 by robertogreco

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