Busy day again! And it looks like it is about to be this hectic everyday until mid-April until I submit my first three chapters to my advisor as promised. Sharing some reads from the past few days here.
On trying to talk openly about financial insecurity, in a world where talking openly about financial insecurity can be a double-edged sword, especially professionally:
Most writers I know who’ve been really poor practice similar forms of self-censorship. Sometimes the reasons are obvious even to someone who’s never had money problems. One writer I know went through a patch where he had to report to a subway cleaning crew to keep getting his welfare checks. He talked about this openly to friends, but went through extreme contortions to hide it from a publisher who was considering hiring him. When I was first profiled for a women’s magazine, I had their photographer come to my apartment, only to have her look around and instantly suggest we go out to a park. After that, I had photographers meet me at a richer person’s apartment to save everyone time and embarrassment.
But often the decisions are less clear-cut. Social media, for instance, can be the ideal forum for openly discussing social class—but it’s also notoriously a place where going too far can damage your career. Most of us filter what we say. This affects how we talk about being broke. A post about student debt is safe, but one about living in your car risks losing face and professional standing. It can even come across as a passive-aggressive jab at more affluent people. One writer friend of mine commented: “On Twitter, we make jokes about being poor. We don’t talk about the fucking dread eating through us because we’ll never be stable. We don’t talk about what it means, that we’re on Twitter because we can’t afford therapy or social lives.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, asked at SXSW on the economic challenge of the labour force being replaced by automation:
We should not be haunted by the specter of being automated out of work. We should not feel nervous about the toll booth collector not having to collect tolls anymore. We should be excited by that. But the reason we’re not excited by it is because we live in a society where if you don’t have a job, you are left to die. And that is, at its core, our problem.
Which means that we could be able to decouple the notion of employment with the idea of being able to survive:
We should be excited about automation, because what it could potentially mean is more time educating ourselves, more time creating art, more time investing in and investigating the sciences, more time focused on invention, more time going to space, more time enjoying the world that we live in. Because not all creativity needs to be bonded by wage.
Remember my post about being internalised by capitalism? I feel like before we get excited by the prospect of automation and scurry off to paint or read, there are definitely a number of systemic and structural amendments that we must take a look into in order to be able to turn this situation into reality.
I currently have in one of my tabs today a journal about a post-colonial radical women’s movement called the Angkatan Wanita Sedar (AWAS) (Conscious Woman’s Front) which operated post World War II Malaya (pre-1963 Malaysia). It’s very interesting to me because like many fronts of history, their stories were always very much, conscious or subconsciously, being overshadowed by those of men’s, and it’s history of the badass women of my people! I haven’t read it yet as I have reached my mental capacity for the day, but I will tomorrow (and I am very excited!) so I will report, probably.